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Saturday 16 December 2017

Lionel Messi agrees new four-year deal at Barcelona with enormous release clause

Barcelona's Lionel Messi. Photo: Reuters
Barcelona's Lionel Messi. Photo: Reuters

Ed Malyon

Lionel Messi has agreed a new contract with Barcelona that will keep him at the club until 2021, and will sign it on his return to Spain next week.

The Argentinean international has confirmed his intention to see out his European club career at the Nou Camp and will ink the €500k per week deal that will tie him to the Catalan giants until he is 34 - unless someone pays his €250m release clause.

Messi made his Barcelona debut back in 2004 as a teenager but quickly rose to stardom, establishing himself as the best player in the world by 22. Messi remains the only player to have ever won five Ballon d'Or awards, four of which he won consecutively, and many consider Messi the greatest player of all time.

That was enough reason alone to make Messi the best-paid player in European football and the 30-year-old playmaker will continue at Barcelona before returning to Argentina to play for the club of his dreams, Newell's Old Boys.

Confirmation of Messi's commitment to Barcelona is welcome news to the club, just one year after he asked to join Manchester City. President Josep Bartomeu talked him round and convinced him to remain in La Liga, and after getting married in his hometown of Rosario last week, Messi will fly to Barcelona for pre-season next week and to formally put pen to paper on his new deal, as revealed by The Independent in June.

An official statement from Barcelona gushed: "FC Barcelona and Leo Messi have agreed on a contract renewal that will keep the Argentinian at the Club until June 30th, 2021.

"The deal will be signed in the coming weeks, when Messi returns to the team for pre-season training.

"The Club is very happy with both the renewal and the commitment of Messi, the best player in history, who has played his full professional career at Barça and has led the team to an era of extraordinary success, the likes of which has never been seen in world football.

"The Argentinian star joined Barça back in 2000 as a 13-year-old, arriving from Newell's Old Boys. After impressing throughout the various youth categories, he made his first team debut at just 16 years of age in a friendly against FC Porto, before making his debut the following season against Espanyol at 17. Shortly after, he scored his first senior goal with a clever lob against Albacete at the Camp Nou.

"The rest is history. Leo Messi has since gone on to break just about every record and has become the greatest player in the world. Now, at 30 years of age, Messi has completed 13 seasons with the first team and, with his new deal, will remain for a further four.

"Messi has racked up eight La Liga titles, four Champions Leagues, five Copa del Rey, seven Spanish Super Cups, three European Super Cups and three Club World Cups. Individually, he has won the Ballon d’Or prize five times, more than any other Player in the history of the game, four Pichichi and four Golden Shoes. 

"With Barça, the no.10 has scored 507 goals in 583 matches and is the club’s record goalscorer, as well as La Liga’s record goalscorer. But Leo Messi will not stop there - the Argentinian is in one of the best moments of his career and still has a lot more left to give, which is music to the ears of all Barça fans who will get to continue marvelling at his greatness for at least another four years."

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