Lionel Messi is expected to sign his new Barcelona contract later this week and could mark his new era at the club at the Joan Gamper Trophy match on Sunday.
Messi is set to return from his post-Copa America holiday but it is not clear whether he will be ready to play in the pre-season game against Juventus, having yet to train and still not technically employed by the club.
However, the intention is for him to be present at the game at the Johan Cruyff Stadium at Barca’s training ground, where he could also give the traditional pre-season speech as captain.
Last month Messi verbally agreed a new five-year deal that will see his wages cut by 50 per cent, the final details of which were completed in the last few days thanks to a new injection of cash into La Liga from CVC investments.
Barca are expected to receive up to £230m as their share of a £2.3bn package, 90 per cent of which is to be distributed between the clubs, according to reports in Spain, significantly improving what had been a tight budget for the upcoming season.
And it means Messi, who remains a free agent after his previous deal expired on July 1, can be officially announced as a Barca player again before the weekend.
Barcelona were struggling to reduce their wage bill in line with La Liga’s financial fair play rules for this coming season, and have been in talks with vice-captains Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets and Sergi Roberto about reducing their salaries by 40 per cent in return for contract extensions.
They have also been trying to sell several high earners including Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele, Philippe Coutinho, Samuel Umtiti and Martin Braithwaite but – again – have not yet found solutions for any of them.
Wage caps in La Liga are calculated prospectively based on a club’s financial health and they must adhere to their cap in order to avoid future financial penalties. The cost of the Covid-19 pandemic had severely reduced Barca’s budget for the 2021-22 campaign.
The investment from CVC has eased the pressure, but they must still restructure their wage bill to help ensure the long-term stability of the club.
Barca’s opening La Liga game against Real Sociedad is in 12 days’ time, where Messi is expected to begin his 18th senior season as a Barcelona player.