LIONEL MESSI'S future at Barcelona has been thrown into further doubt because the club cannot register new signings after already exceeding their wage cap, according to reports.
The Argentine great, 34, is currently unemployed after his contract expired on June 30.
And although many expect him to sign a two-year extension at the Nou Camp, that is now reportedly under threat.
Barca are in financial disarray as a result of the pandemic, with debt standing at £1billion, and have been told by LaLiga to cut their annual salary to £300million from £331m.
According to Goal, the Catalan giants are operating beyond that figure – even without Messi signing on again.
The captain's latest contract was worth a whopping £2.4m per week – or £123m per year.
But the report also adds Barcelona are not allowed to add new additions to their squad until they have made the necessary savings.
That means free signings Sergio Aguero, Memphis Depay and Eric Garcia as well as £6m addition Emerson Royal will allegedly not be officially registered with LaLiga yet.
Barcelona president Joan Laporta last week urged fans to stay calm as he looks to tie up Messi's new deal.
He said: "We want Lionel Messi to stay and Leo wants to stay.
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"Everything is on track.
"We have the issue of Financial Fair Play, we are in the process of finding the best solution for both parties."
In response, Barcelona are desperately looking at ways to cut millions off the wage bill.
Matheus Fernandes, Juan Miranda, Konrad De La Fuente, Jean-Clair Todibo and Trincao have already been shipped out, the latter to Wolves.
But the Nou Camp side know they need to get rid of some high-profile stars on big money to be able to afford Messi and Co next season by slashing an ambitious £171m from their annual pay packets.
The report adds Samuel Umtiti, Miralem Pjanic and Philippe Coutinho are the first names on the chopping block.
Pjanic arrived in a £51.5m deal last summer but could be let go for free with Tottenham interested.
Coutinho, meanwhile, may be the most expensive player in Barca's history at £145m but they will reportedly accept a small transfer fee just to get the £500k-a-week flop out.
Moves to Liverpool, AC Milan or Leicester were suggested for the Brazilian.
Lastly, left-back Junior Firpo is on the brink of a £13m transfer to Leeds – although Covid-19 protocols are holding up the official confirmation.
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