(Photo: Кирилл Венедиктов – https://www.soccer.ru/galery/1055457/photo/733486 – Wikipedia.org)

Football star Lionel Messi has spent the better part of his career playing with Barcelona. He left Newell’s Old Boys when he was still a boy – at the age of 13, in 2000 – to play with Barca overseas, and never left. That is until his last contract with the club expired at the end of last month. Since then, every news portal and reputable betting site has been speculating on where he’ll go. Well, now we have an answer: he’ll stay with Barca for five more years.

Messi stays put

Last fall, we witnessed a conflict erupt between the 34-year-old football star and the club. Both parties blamed each other for the team’s precarious performance last year, especially after Bayern Munich beat Barca 8-2 in a game. Messi wanted to leave Barca last September but was reportedly stopped by his 700 million euro termination fee. So, apparently, he decided to stay until it expires and become a free agent – this in spite of most parties, including Barca’s management, expecting him to extend.

Ultimately, Messi stood put until the end of June when his contract expired – and became a free agent when it did. Then, he was busy playing in Copa América for a while, leaving the whole world wondering what he could do next.

A new deal

The answer to all this speculation has finally emerged: Messi will stay with Barcelona for five more years. And he will do so with a 50% pay cut as well. One of the reasons for this may be the fact that his nemesis – Barca ex-president Josep Bartomeu – has resigned from the club, and his place was taken by Joan Laporta. Then, there is the question of success that was another source of conflict. Well, Barca may have lost La Liga but it won Copa del Rey, which is a good sign.

Messi apparently acknowledged the precarious finances of the club and accepted a massive pay cut. Apparently, money was never an issue in his negotiations for a new contract. At the same time, the player reportedly wants to set an example.

Make no mistake, Messi staying with Barcelona on a five-year contract is not a done deal just yet. The two parties agreed on principle, with the last remaining details to be worked out. The negotiations are, in turn, in a “very advanced stage” as reported by the Spanish sports portal Sport.es, so it seems safe to say that the 34-year-old Argentine football star will likely end his career at Camp Nou – when he turns 39.