FC Barcelona is desperately trying to reduce their wage bill for next season in order to accommodate the new contract that they are offering Lionel Messi. The desperation is evident, with the club practically ripping up contracts and dumping out some of their players in order to take their salaries out of the equation.
New club president Joan Laporta promised club members that he will convince Lionel Messi to stay when he asked for their votes earlier this year. However, even if Messi does appear to want to stay, the situation is far more complicated than just having the Argentine's willingness to stay.
Now, Laporta and Barcelona sporting director Mateu Alemany are scrambling for ways to offload players, and they are even going to the extent of terminating existing contracts prematurely.
So far. they have successfully shipped off Francisco Trincao to join Premier League side Wolverhampton Wanderers. Joining him in the UK is Junior Firpo, who is believed to be on his way to play for Leeds United.
These departures hardly made a dent in the 200 million euros that the club needs to free up to accommodate Messi, and they are looking for more drastic moves with some of the club's big earners. According to Marca, Samuel Umtiti and Miralem Pjanic have both been approached about the possibility of terminating their existing contracts so that they can seek pastures new.
However, with 16 million and 18 million euro salaries, they both know that it will be difficult to find a better deal elsewhere amid the current financial climate in world football. Furthermore, no club will want to go into a bidding war knowing full well that Barcelona are desperate.
Nevertheless, if both players leave this summer, that's only just 35 million euros off Barcelona's wage bill. Despite Messi's reduced contract which is rumoured to have been slashed by almost 50%, the club still needs to dump other valuable stars. The next target is Philippe Coutinho, who has luckily piqued the interest of Serie A side AC Milan.
The Brazilian will be taking a 50 million euro salary with him, which frees up a lot of space in the club's coffers. If the deal with Milan falls through, the club may be forced to look for a loan deal which would at least lower the wage bill for the coming season.
There is still a lot of time left in the current transfer window, and Messi's camp has been quiet so far. It is difficult to imagine that they are simply waiting around to see if Barcelona will be able to find a way to accommodate the six-time Ballon d'Or winner's demands.
Barcelona wants to get the Argentine's new deal signed as soon as possible, but they must act fast and offload the likes of Martin Braithwaite, Clement Lenglet and maybe even Antoine Griezmann and Jordi Alba.