ATLANTA, GEORGIA—Argentine soccer superstar Lionel Messi could become a free agent on Thursday if FC Barcelona fails to sign him to a new deal after his contract with Camp Nou ends on Wednesday.
Sources said Barcelona is now working overtime to secure a new deal with Messi and extend further his 20-year tenure with the team.
The team is now working on a new deal with Messi after his 2017 contract worth more than €500m over four years, including his salary, bonuses, and image rights.
The team who is reportedly facing some financial problem wants to strike a new two-year deal with Messi with the option for an additional year.
Part of the new contract offered by Barcelona to Messi is the freedom to move to Major League Soccer at some point, where he would act as a Barca ambassador before returning to the club in a backroom role of his choosing.
Last summer, Messi, 34 made sports headlines after he told Barca that he wanted to leave the team.
But recent developments have reportedly driven Messi to stay with Barca after the assumption of new Barca president Joan Laporta.
Insiders said Messi could not immediately sign a new contract with Barca since he is still playing for Argentina in the ongoing Copa America 2021.
Argentina faces Ecuador in the quarterfinal on Saturday as Messi targets his first major trophy with the Albiceleste, having previously lost three Copa America finals and one World Cup final.

By bob

A veteran soccer journalist who is an avid fan of Atlanta United and Lionel Messi.