Lionel Messi signs new long-term deal at Barcelona
Published 18/12/2012 | 10:45
LIONEL Messi has agreed a new contract to keep him at Barcelona until 2018.
The Catalan giants confirmed on their official website the Argentinian would pen the deal "in the coming weeks".
Barca also revealed Xavi and Carles Puyol had agreed extensions until 2016.
Messi’s current deal runs until June 2016 and the new agreement will keep him at the Nou Camp beyond his 31st birthday.
The forward has enjoyed an extraordinary year, even by his own remarkable standards, netting his 89th and 90th goals of 2012 at the weekend.
The 25-year-old had already surpassed Gerd Muller's 40-year-old record of 85 goals in a calendar year.
He is also in contention to claim a fourth successive FIFA Ballon d'Or crown, being named on a three-man shortlist alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and team-mate Andres Iniesta.
Defender Puyol's contract was due to expire at the end of the season, while midfielder Xavi's ran out the following summer.
Their new deals are set to keep them at Barca for the rest of their careers and underline their commitment to the runaway Primera Division leaders under new coach Tito Vilanova.
They also reduce the chances of former boss Pep Guardiola being able to tempt them away if he returns to club management next season.
A statement on the Barcelona website read: "This news means that FC Barcelona has secured its ties with three of its most important players. Over the course of the next few weeks, Carles Puyol, Xavi Hernandez and Leo Messi will all be signing their respective new contracts."