Barcelona are confident of agreeing a contract extension with Andres Iniesta by the end of December. The midfielder has asked for a deal that will net him over €11million a year and see him finish his trophy-laden career at the Catalan club.
Iniesta, 29, has been stalling on a deal for some time and was unhappy at his lack of minutes earlier in the season, but Barca are increasingly hopeful a deal will be struck before the end of the year.
Elected as Uefa's best footballer following Barcelona's last Champions League winning campaign, the midfielder's current deal expires in 2015 and the club's reluctance to meet his demands for a net salary of least €11m have drawn the attention of Europe's leading clubs. The exact length of his new contract is yet be finalised.
Barca's confidence in retaining an individual who has trained and played in the club's colours since he was a 12-year-old is based on a belief that Iniesta's strong preference is to continue, and ultimately, conclude his stellar career at Camp Nou. They remain, however, some distance from matching the player's financial demands.
At present, Iniesta's after-tax salary stands at €8m, a sum which placed him on the second tier of Barcelona's pay scale with Xavi until the club spent heavily to complete Neymar's long-planned transfer from Santos last summer. Under pressure from Real Madrid, who budgeted over €100m to usurp their rivals' pre-contract agreement with the Brazil forward, Barca agreed an unprecedented remuneration package for a recruit with zero experience of European football at that point.
Though Neymar's personal terms were structured in a fashion that his new employers could present his base salary as being lower than Iniesta and Xavi's at €7m net, other payments to the Brazilian and his family inflated the effective earnings well beyond that of the two playmakers.
In June, Barcelona vice-president Josep Maria Bartomeu announced that the club had paid €57m to Santos, and three companies – DIS Esporte, Terceira Estrela Investimentos and N&N – to secure Neymar's signature. Neymar's father owns N&N, which is understood to have received €40m of that outlay. Barca had already spent €10m in December 2011 to acquire a first option on Neymar's transfer from Brazil.
The deal unsettled a number of Barca stalwarts, effectively establishing a new watermark for their own salary negotiations.
Iniesta and his advisers expect the 29-year-old's new deal to net between €10m and €11m per annum. They regard the matter as one not just of financial fairness, but as a recognition of the midfielder's status within a club where he has been a central element in six La Liga and three Champions League winning teams.