Lionel Messi Reportedly Agrees to New Five-Year-Deal with FC Barcelona

Not so fast! Lionel Messi may not be going anywhere…

The 34-year-old Argentine superstar footballer and FC Barcelona have reportedly reached an agreement for the forward to sign a new five-year deal with the Catalan club, according to ESPN.

Lionel MessiSources added that Messi has accepted a significant wage reduction to prolong his stay.

Messi was a free agent after his contract at Barca expired, and he had courted interest from Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City since first revealing a desire to end his 20-year relationship with Barca last summer.

Messi’s previous contract, which was worth over €500 million ($594m) over four years, expired at the stroke of midnight on June 30.

However, with the return of Joan Laporta as president in March, Messi grew more open to staying at Camp Nou. An official announcement is expected in the coming days.

Laporta had hoped to finalize an agreement before Messi’s previous terms expired. Barca’s financial problems made that impossible, though, with their gross debt over €1 billion. Cutbacks have been essential, in terms of transferring players out, reducing the wage bill and getting Messi to accept a lower salary.

La Liga president Javier Tebas has warned Barca they will not be allowed to register Messi’s new deal if they are unable to reduce spending to comply with the league’s Financial Fair Play rules. Barca’s spending limit has been reduced from over €600m to €347m since the coronavirus pandemic, with further reductions expected to be imposed for the upcoming season.

Therefore, to register Messi’s new deal, in addition to new signings Sergio Aguero, Memphis Depay, Eric Garcia and Emerson Royal, Barca need to continue reducing the wage bill and moving players on. With that in mind, sources at the club refuse to rule out the departure of Antoine Griezmann, a €120m signing in 2019.

Messi is on holiday with his family after his Copa America glory with Argentina last weekend, which was his first senior trophy with his national team.

He will link up with Ronald Koeman‘s squad later in the summer, with Barca’s league campaign kicking off on August 15 against Real Sociedad at Camp Nou.

Messi had first expressed a desire to leave Barca last August after the 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League. His relationship with then-president Josep Maria Bartomeu had reached a breaking point. In a September 2020 interview with Goal, after Barca had blocked his departure, Messi called Bartomeu a “liar” and said the board had been “making things up as they go along” and “plugging holes” for years.

Bartomeu, facing a vote of no confidence, resigned last October and was eventually replaced by Laporta in March. Laporta has a good relationship with Messi and his family. He was Barca’s president when Messi made his first-team debut and when he signed his first professional contract with the club.

Sources told ESPN in April that Laporta was working on a contract renewal for Messi that included the option of playing in Major League Soccer before returning to Barcelona.

In public and in private, Laporta had always maintained that he was “convinced” he could persuade Messi to stay. The club have already made a series of signings this summer, bringing in Sergio Aguero, Memphis Depay and Eric Garcia, as well as recalling Emerson Royal.

Messi first joined Barca’s academy in 2000 and has gone on to play 778 games for the club, breaking Xavi Hernandez‘s appearance record last season. He has scored 672 goals, another club record, and has helped Barca win, among other trophies, 10 La Liga titles and the Champions League on four occasions.

David Silva Signs with Real Sociedad

David Silva is ready to kick things up in Spain…

Real Sociedad have signed the 34-year-old Spanish footballer and former Manchester City midfielder as a free agent, the La Liga side has announced.

David Silva

Silva recently left Man City after a decade of service, in which he won 11 major trophies including four Premier League titles.

Manchester City had recently announced that they’d be honoring Ruiz by building a statue of him outside the Etihad Stadium.

La Real, who finished sixth in La Liga, were searching for a new playmaker after Martin Odegaard ended a one-year loan spell to return to Real Madrid.

Silva had been linked with a move to Italian club Lazio, but instead returns to his home country, having begun his professional career at Valencia.

In a social media post, Silva said goodbye to Man City fans:

“I look back and it’s clear I could not have made a better decision than to accept City’s proposal to join their project back in 2010,” he said.

“Manchester City and I have grown together. In 10 years, I have developed personally and professionally. I have celebrated many victories and titles and lived through epic moments.

“I have seen my lovely child, Mateo, born and I have even started to feel comfortable under heavy rain! City are a fantastic family. I won’t ever forget the way they threw themselves into helping me when I suffered the hardest moments of my life, offering me support and empathy.”

Neymar Expresses Interest in Extending Contract with FC Barcelona

Neymar doesn’t want to move…

The 23-year-old Brazilian soccer star said he wants to extend his contract with FC Barcelona after scoring more goals in Saturday’s 4-0 La Liga win against Real Sociedad at Camp Nou.

Neymar

La Liga leaders Barcelona strolled to victory against the Basque side — with Neymar and Luis Suarez scoring in the first half, and the Brazilian netting his second after the break before Lionel Messi wrapped up the scoring late on.

The latest display from the Catalan side’s superstar attacking trio showed just how well they dove-tail on the pitch, and comes amid further speculation of behind-the-scenes negotiations about a new deal that would tie reported Manchester United target Neymar to Barca for a further three years until 2021.

Real Madrid’s Navas Sets La Liga Clean Sheet Record

Keylor Navas is a perfect No. 10 in the La Liga record books…

The 28-year-old Costa Rican soccer player has broken a club record for clean sheets at the start of a season, after racking up a fourth consecutive clean sheet in La Liga and fifth in a row in all competitions with his clean sheet in Real Madrid’s 1-0 win over Granada on Saturday.

Keylor Navas

Navas is the tenth goalkeeper in La Liga’s 86-year history to record such a streak at the beginning of the campaign.

The fifth straight shutout since the start of 2015-16 betters former Real Madrid keeper Miguel Angel‘s sequence of four on the spin at the beginning of the 1975-76 campaign.

“It was a difficult night for me at the end of the transfer market but that is now in the past,” Navas told reporters.

“Now I am thinking of the present and the coach [Rafa Benitez] believes in me. I have had the chance to stay and I will give my best. I am very grateful to the Real fans for their support which is not easy to earn.”

Marca reports that Navas is now just 10 minutes away from bettering Iker Casillas‘ personal best without conceding a goal, after the Spaniard went 460 minutes without being beaten in 2008-09.

Before Navas, Claudio Bravo was the last man to join the exclusive club of keepers to have remained unbeaten four weeks into the La Liga season, with the Chilean settling quickly into life at Barça last term. Real Madrid’s only other member of this hall of fame is Miguel Ángel, who didn’t concede in any of his first four league appearances in 1975-76.

Navas’ streak has put him in the esteemed company of Barça legends Salvador Sadurní (1968-69), the first to achieve the feat, and Pello Artola (1977-78); Atlético Madrid great Abel Resino (1991-92); Deportivo‘s Paco Liaño (1993-94); Real Sociedad‘s José Ramón Esnaola (1970-71); Celta Vigo‘s Pablo Cavallero (2001-02), Zaragoza‘s Manolo Villanova (1972-73) and Compostela‘s Javier Falagán (1995-96).

Alonso Agrees to Two-Year Deal with Bayern Munich

Xabi Alonso is leaving his beloved home country and heading to Germany…

The 32-year-old Spanish soccer star has agreed to a two-year contract with Bayern Munich for an undisclosed fee.

Xabi Alonso

Alonso had been a midfielder for Real Madrid for five years following his £30m move from Liverpool in 2009.

Alonso, a Champions League winner in May, had just signed a new two-year deal in January.

Bayern moved for Alonso after Toni Kroos joined Madrid following the World Cup and fellow Spaniard Javi Martinez was ruled out until 2015 with a knee injury.

“He has bags of experience and a big personality,” said Bayern boss Pep Guardiola.

“We need a player with his quality and vision. I know he’s 32 but that doesn’t matter in this position, where you need intelligent players, rather than the legs and stamina for the flanks.”

“I had a great time here, we have won big things and now a new chapter opens for me. It was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to take,” said Alonso. “The club did not want me to go. It was my decision and I asked them to understand. The club didn’t share my idea but they understood my need to start a new chapter, to start from zero in a new club.”

Alonso, who won two European Championships and a World Cup with Spain, joined Liverpool from Real Sociedad in 2004 where he won the Champions League at the end of his first season.

Casillas Named IFFHS’ Goalkeeper of the Year

Íker Casillas has reached his goal again…

The 31-year-old Spanish soccer star, captain of Real Madrid and the Spanish national soccer team, has been named goalkeeper of the year for the fifth straight time by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS).
Casillas earned 224 points in voting by sports journalists worldwide to beat out Juventus and Italian national team goalie Gianluigi Buffon, who received 128 points.

Iker Casillas

Chelsea’s Petr Cech finished third with 92 points, followed by Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer with 85, Manchester City’s Joe Hart with 26 and Barcelona’s Victor Valdes with 15.

Prior to winning the award for the first time in 2008, Casillas had finished in the top four in the voting on four occasions between 2003 and 2007.

Casillas picked up the honor despite struggling at the end of last year and being replaced by backup goalkeeper Antonio Adan for Real Madrid’s last match of 2012, a road loss to Malaga in Spanish league action.

Casillas told reporters this week that he’s determined to win back his starting spot in time for Madrid’s next league match Sunday against Real Sociedad at the Bernabeu.

Real Madrid is in third place in the Spanish league standings and trails leader FC Barcelona by a whopping 16 points after 17 games played.