Six-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi is now officially a free agent after his enormous four-year, €500 million Barcelona contract expired at the end of June. The Argentine forward has been heavily linked with European heavyweights Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain. Those are really the only other two elite clubs who could afford to sign him this summer.
While Barcelona still believes that Messi will eventually sign new deal, his status as a free agent has got attention of several elite clubs and even NBA stars. Brooklyn Nets guard Kevin Durant and free agent Isaiah Thomas were among those left in awe after Messi’s mammoth contract expired.
Kevin Durant, Isaiah Thomas left stunned at Lionel Messi’s Barcelona contract
On Thursday, two-time NBA champion Kevin Durant took to Twitter to react to the news of Lionel Messi’s Barcelona contract which expired effective July 1st. The 11-time NBA All-Star responded to a tweet that highlighted Messi’s 4-year, $674M deal at Barcelona, which is dubbed as the largest sports contract in the world.
“Insane” wrote Durant, who signed a four-year contract worth $164 million with the Nets in 2019.
Soon after Durant’s tweet, former Pelicans star Isaiah Thomas also reacted to Messi’s mega-deal with Barcelona. The two-time All-Star joked that he would push his kids towards playing football after seeing Messi’s salary. “OMG. I gotta put my kids in football. LOL,” he wrote.
Earlier this year reports from Marca leaked Messi’s massive contract. It was reported that Messi made a whopping $168.5 million per year over the past four years at Barcelona. To put it in context, Warriors superstar Stephen Curry, the highest-paid player in the NBA in 2021, made just over $43 million. Hence, Durant and Thomas were left rather astonished by Messi’s salary.
Lionel Messi to sign contract extension at Barcelona?
Barcelona continues to be confident that Messi will sign a new contract at Camp Nou, but star forward becoming a free agent is still a worrying development. The 34-year-old handed in his transfer request to leave Barcelona last summer but was forced to stay put and see out the final year of his contract.
It is believed that Messi is looking for assurances at Barcelona that the club will be able to build a competitive team around him in the near future. La Blaugrana won the Copa del Rey in 2020-21 but missed out on the domestic league title in Ronald Koeman’s first season at the helm.
With Messi becoming a free agent, it adds a new layer of complexity to the situation in LaLiga. Should Barcelona re-sign the star player, he will have to be registered in the LaLiga books as a new signing.
Messi is currently with the Argentina squad at Copa America, where La Albiceleste will face Ecuador in the quarter-finals on Saturday. Reports suggest that Messi is currently calm and focused on attaining continental glory with his national team, rather than think about his Barcelona contract situation.
During his 17-year career at Barcelona, Messi has scored a record 672 goals and racked up 288 assists. He holds several other records including most goals (474) in LaLiga as well as most assists (192) in the Spanish top flight.
He has won four Champions League titles, 10 LaLiga titles and seven Copa del Rey titles as well.