It has been reported that Ronald Koeman has admitted that he is ‘concerned’ about Lionel Messi’s Barcelona future after the superstar’s contract expired last week, but has ‘full confidence’ in club president Joan Laporta’s ability to sort out the issue.
Messi, who is currently on international duty with Argentina and preparing for a Copa America final against Brazil, is now a free agent after a tumultuous year with Barcelona.
The 34-year-old has remained cagey about whether he will stay with the Catalan giants, who are in a deep financial crisis that is one of the biggest barriers to keeping hold of their talisman.
Speaking at a charity golf tournament, Koeman revealed the issue remains on his mind but that he expects Laporta to solve it.
‘Whenever an issue isn’t resolved, you have to be concerned,’ Koeman told Spanish newspaper Marca.
‘But I have full confidence in our president to fix this issue; it’s very important for the club, but also for LaLiga, that the best player in the world remains and we all have to make an effort to ensure he continues with us.’
That confidence may be misplaced given Barcelona’s significant financial woes. The club’s chief problem is the wage bill, as LaLiga has its own Financial Fair Play rules limiting what each club spends on salaries.
According to Catalan radio RAC 1, Barcelona need to wipe £156million (€187m) off their existing wage bill. Their limit was £296m (€347m) last year and now it’s £136m (€160m).
This makes the notion of providing Messi with even a much-reduced new deal – compared to the gargantuan contract he signed in 2017 – a very tough ask.
Messi reportedly wants to stay but Barca must fix the massive hole in their finances first.
The Argentine is said not to be in a charitable mood, given he has done nothing but bring revenue and trophies for the last 15 years.
Barcelona are desperately looking to sell high-earning players to cut their wage bill, but have stumbled repeatedly over shifting the likes of Philippe Coutinho and Samuel Umtiti.