Lionel Messi has reached a verbal agreement with Barcelona on a five-year contract extension with a 50 percent pay cut. Messi is currently a free agent after his previous deal with the club ran out on July 1. He failed to agree on new terms before the expiration of the deal. Messi won his first international trophy last week when Argentina won the Copa America.

The new deal means Argentina forward will be 39 when his new deal expires. He joined the club at the age of 13 and will spend 26 years at the club at the end of the new deal. Last season Messi informed Barcelona that he would like to activate a clause in his contract where he could leave for free. La Liga president Javier Tebas and Maria Bartomeu both blocked the deal last season claiming the clause was only active after June 10.

“I thought and we were sure that I’d be a free agent,” Barcelona forward Lionel Messi said. “The president always told me that I could decide to stay or go at the end of the season and they’re now clinging to the fact that I hadn’t said anything by June 10, when it turns out that on June 10 the La Liga season was still ongoing and we were in the midst of this virus and this illness that altered the whole fixture calendar.”

“And that’s the reason why I’m staying on at the club. I’m now staying because the president told me that the only way I could leave was by paying the €700m release clause, which is impossible,” he added.

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