By Abba Gwale
Lionel Messi is expected to sign his new Barcelona contract later this week and could mark his new era at the club at the Joan Gamper trophy match on Sunday.
Messi is set to return from his post-Copa America holiday, but it is not clear whether he will be ready to play in the pre-season game against Juventus, having yet to train and still not technically employed by the club.
However the intention is to be present at the game at the Johan Cruyff Stadium at Barca’s training ground, where he could also give the traditional pre-season speech as captain.
Last month Messi verbally agreed a new five-year deal that will see his wages cut by 50 per cent, the final details of which were completed in the last few days thanks to a new injection of cash into La Liga from CVC investments.
Barca are expected to receive up to £230m as their share of a £2.3bn package, 90 per cent of which is to be distributed between the clubs, according to reports in Spain, significantly improving what had been a tight budget for the upcoming season.
And it means Messi, who remains a free agent after his previous deal expired on July 1, can be officially announced as a Barcelona player again before the weekend.