Lionel Messi set to take wage cut as part of new five-year deal with Barcelona

Club in talks with Atletico Madrid about swapping Antoine Griezmann for Saúl

Barcelona are close to announcing that Lionel Messi has signed a contract to 2026 and are in advanced talks over swapping Antoine Griezmann for Atlético Madrid's Saúl.

Messi has agreed a five-year deal on reduced wages rather than a two-year extension initially discussed. His partnership with Griezmann in attack will end if Barcelona and the Atlético finalise the proposed exchange involving the midfielder Saúl.

Both players are happy with the arrangement but negotiations over their respective price tags must be concluded, with Barcelona saying Griezmann’s value is greater than Saúl’s and wanting money as part of a deal. Liverpool and Chelsea are keen on the 26-year-old Saúl if he does not end up at the Camp Nou. Griezmann left Atlético for Barcelona for €120 million in 2019.

Barcelona have structured Messi’s contract to help them stay within the boundaries of La Liga’s financial fair play regulations. The 34-year-old is taking a significant salary cut but bonuses have been worked in and he is due to earn less this coming season than he will the season after as Barcelona wrestle with their finances.

There is an acceptance that Messi may not see out his contract given that he will be approaching his 39th birthday when the final season of the deal ends. This, too, has been factored into the financial arrangement.

Messi’s future has never been in serious doubt even though he became a free agent at the end of June. He has spent his whole career at Barcelona and held no talks with Paris Saint-Germain, who had an interest and on Wednesday completed the signing of Gianluigi Donnarumma on a five-year deal after the Italy goalkeeper’s contract at Milan expired.

Messi is recuperating after helping Argentina to win the Copa América in Brazil. Barcelona fell short in La Liga and the Champions League last season but have kept faith with Ronald Koeman as manager and signed the free agents Sergio Agüero, Eric García and Memphis Depay and paid for the right back Emerson Royal.

Barcelona have also taken the Austrian forward Yusuf Demir on loan from Rapid Vienna for €500,000 with an option to buy for €10 million but he is listed as a signing for the B team. – Guardia

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