Report: Messi to sign 2-year deal with Barcelona

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Lionel Messi is staying at Barcelona.

The Argentine will sign a two-year contract extension with the Blaugrana, according to The Guardian's Fabrizio Romano, ending a tense year-long standoff that nearly resulted in an acrimonious exit last summer.

Messi was set to become a free agent on June 30.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta said last month he was "moderately optimistic" that Messi would re-sign with the club.

"He deserves more and could get a better contract somewhere else, but I'm convinced he appreciates the efforts we are making," Laporta added. "I think he is keen to stay.

"For Leo, it's not about money. It's about winning. And that's what we are working on."

Messi informed Barcelona of his desire to leave after a historic 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarterfinals last August. The soon-to-be 34-year-old and his father Jorge believed they could unilaterally terminate Messi's contract and demanded his immediate release. Barcelona insisted no such termination clause existed, saying any team interested in signing Messi would have to pay his €700-million release clause.

Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain emerged as Messi's most likely destinations, and the six-time Ballon d'Or winner reportedly held conversations with City boss Pep Guardiola at around the time of his feud with Barcelona.

Messi ultimately decided against legal action and saw out the final year of his four-year contract, which reportedly paid up to €138 million per season.

The superstar winger's chances of staying increased as the campaign went on. Josep Maria Bartomeu resigned as Barcelona president in October as club members filed a petition to remove him from his position.

Laporta won the organization's presidential election in March and thanked Messi for taking part in the vote.

On the field, manager Ronald Koeman appeared to answer Messi's calls for a new project and emphasized several youth players, including academy graduates Pedri, Ansu Fati, and Oscar Mingueza. Messi also kicked into gear, helping the club win the Copa del Rey, its first trophy in two years, while finishing the season with 38 goals across all competitions.

Now comes the tricky part. Barcelona's total debt stands at €1.173 billion, and the side risks exceeding La Liga's salary cap if it fails to trim fat elsewhere. La Liga president Javier Tebas implored Barcelona to reduce their wages, or the league could prevent the club from registering any new contracts - including Messi's.

Laporta reportedly secured a €500-million line of credit in May to ease the financial burden.

Report: Messi to sign 2-year deal with Barcelona
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