Messi’s future up in the air as Barcelona contract ends

Jun 30, 2021, 7:22 AM | Updated: 7:52 pm

MADRID (AP) — Lionel Messi’s contract with Barcelona is coming to an end Wednesday with no news from the player or the club about his future.

The expectation is that the 34-year-old Messi, who is playing with Argentina at the Copa America, will stay at the Catalan club. He reportedly had been close to reaching a deal to extend his contract for two more years.

Messi’s future has been a mystery since he had his request to leave the club denied at the end of the 2019-20 season. He ended up staying and said he would reconsider his options when this season was over.

A lot has changed since he announced he wanted to leave the club. That decision was made not long after the team’s embarrassing 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the quarterfinals of the Champions League, one of the worst defeats in the club’s and Mess’s history. But since then, Barcelona has a new coach in Ronald Koeman and a new president after the resignation of Josep Bartomeu, who was at odds with Messi.

In came Joan Laporta, who won the club’s presidential election in part because of his good relationship with the Argentina star. He was the president when Messi’s career started. Laporta said recently he was optimistic that Messi would renew his contract. When asked about Messi’s future on Wednesday, he briefly said “don’t worry.”

Messi excelled again this season despite staying against his wishes. He led the Spanish league in scoring with 30 goals and helped the team win the Copa del Rey title.

In Messi’s previous contract, signed in 2017, he reportedly earned 138 million euros ($164 million) per season.

Playing in Barcelona’s favor to keep Messi is the fact the club has been slowly improving financially amid the coronavirus pandemic. Koeman is staying for a second season, and some players are arriving to boost the squad, including Memphis Depay, Sergio Aguero and Eric Garcia.

Messi has won 35 titles in 17 seasons with Barcelona. He helped the club win the Champions League four times, the Spanish league 10 times, the Copa del Rey seven times and the Spanish Super Cup eight times.

While with the club, Messi earned himself a record six Ballon d’Or awards. He is the team’s all-time leading scorer with 672 goals in 778 appearances, and the top scorer in the Spanish league with 474 goals in 520 matches. He also is the player with most matches with the club.

He was the top scorer in the Spanish league in eight seasons and the top scorer in the Champions League on six occasions. His 26 goals against Real Madrid are a record for the “clásico” matches against Barcelona’s fiercest rival.

Messi arrived at Barcelona at age 13, when he and his family came to Spain to try his luck at the club’s youth academy. He made his official debut on Oct. 16, 2004, and two years later helped the club win its first Champions League in a squad led by Ronaldinho.

___

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

___

Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

The International team celebrates a birdie putt by Taylor Pendrith, of Canada, on the 18th green du...
Associated Press

Column: Even a one-sided Presidents Cup can be entertaining

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The final match of the morning session ended, and players in carts navigated their way through parts of 40,000 spectators at Quail Hollow. The grandstand around the first tee already was filling an hour before the next session at the Presidents Cup. Music was blaring, the crowd was chanting. The scene […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Chess world rocked by cheating accusation made by Carlsen

The genteel world of chess has been rocked by accusations of cheating made by the game’s leading player. Magnus Carlsen, the world champion and a player widely considered one of the greatest ever, posted a statement on Twitter in which he said he believed 19-year-old American opponent Hans Niemann “has cheated more — and more […]
1 day ago
FILE - Memphis coach Penny Hardaway gestures during an NCAA college basketball game against Tulsa o...
Associated Press

NCAA puts Memphis on 3 years’ probation, no tourney ban

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The NCAA’s Independent Accountability Resolution Process put Memphis on three years of probation with a public reprimand on Tuesday, but declined to punish Tigers coach Penny Hardaway or hand down an NCAA Tournament ban. The IARP issued only its second decision Tuesday, with cases involving Louisiana State, Arizona, Kansas and Louisville […]
1 day ago
Golden State Warriors' Klay Thompson poses with four Larry O'Brien trophies during Media Day at Cha...
Associated Press

NBA unveils reimagined app, with far more offerings for fans

The NBA unveiled a reimagined app on Tuesday, with the league saying it will help bring fans closer to the game by offering better streaming options and access to more highlights as close to real-time as possible. The app is more than two years in the making, with plans for the project starting in earnest […]
1 day ago
Carolina Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield is tackled by Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Gar...
Associated Press

Browns’ Garrett released from hospital after scary crash

CLEVELAND (AP) — Cleveland Browns star defensive end Myles Garrett was released from a hospital late Monday night after he was injured when he rolled over his Porsche while driving on a rural road following practice. Garrett suffered non-life-threatening injuries in the one-car wreck. He had been taken to the hospital, along with an unidentified […]
1 day ago
FILE - Haruyuki Takahashi, executive board member of the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic ...
Associated Press

Tokyo Olympics bribery arrests widens to third Japan sponsor

TOKYO (AP) — Bribery allegations against a former Tokyo Olympics organizing committee member ensnared a third company that sponsored the Games, as Japanese prosecutors “re-arrested” Haruyuki Takahashi for the third time Tuesday. The latest allegations of dubious payments center on 15 million yen ($104,000) Takahashi and another official received from Daiko Advertising Inc., based in […]
1 day ago
Messi’s future up in the air as Barcelona contract ends