FC Barcelona is hoping to put an end to any notion of Lionel Messi finishing his career anywhere other than Camp Nou, but maintaining the happiness of the world’s best player and ensuring the team remains competitive at the highest level requires hugh reserves of financial resources.
Messi, a winner of eight La Liga titles, four Champions League crowns and three Club World Cups with Barca, is contracted to the club until 2018, by which time he will be 31.
However, every person at Camp Nou is determined to ensure he ends his career as a one-club player. The Argentine has been with the Catalunya since 2001 and it’s a partnership that Luis Enrique and his side ensure continues for the foreseeable future.
In that respect, Barca would have to also ensure they renew the contracts of the most important players around the 29-year-old.
Neymar, Sergio Busquets and Javier Mascherano are the latest crucial first-team members to have committed their futures to the Blaugrana; next on the list are stars such as Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic, Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Andres Iniesta.
Those contract renewals are a pivotal phase of the process as Barca looks to ensure Messi is surrounded by a team that can compete for domestic and continental titles every year until he calls time on his career.
However, it would naturally mean an increase in budget. While FC Barcelona ended the last financial year with record revenues of £593 million, the club spent around £380m on wages – 64 per cent of their total budget – and the extra income saw them increase their wage budget by £35m.
The renewals of Neymar, Mascherano and Busquets have set them back a great deal and the pending extensions with the other star players will only increase the costs.
The light at the end of the tunnel could be further than anticipated, since Messi will be the last to sign a new contract.
His current is already incredibly astronomical. He currently makes £36m per season, though his payment is spread out with him making £19m over the last two seasons, while he will be paid £8m extra in the last two years of his deal.
The club understand that they must raise revenues to around the £900m mark by 2021 in order to hold onto the Argentinian, and so must raise their budget by a huge margin before they will be ready to move on to talks with Messi.