Messi: I'll never leave Barça
Lionel Messi claims he never wants to leave Barcelona after signing a new contract with the club until 2016.
The 22-year-old is now committed to the reigning European champions for what will likely be the best years of his career, and wants to end it there too. Messi, who was previously signed to Barcelona until 2014, has had his release clause increased from €150 million to €250 million (£225 million) in a move to end any further speculation about his future.
"I want to spend all my career here, in Barcelona, if it's possible," he told the club's official website. "I would love to finish at Barcelona. This contract is a result of everything that happened last year and of what I have done since coming into the first team. I am simply one more person in this spectacular group of players, where there is a team that is very nice, very united and in which I am simply part of continuing to win things."
And if Messi is keen to stay at Barça for life, the door would appear to be open after the club's president Joan Laporta voiced his belief that the Argentina forward would never played for another club.
"This is the best news Barça can receive today," Laporta said of the deal that makes Messi the club's highest-paid player. "It is important to have a player with his human qualities and his football ability. This deal recognises all that he gives to Barcelona. It is impossible to imagine the team without a player like Messi. We expect Leo to retire here with Barca."
Messi joined Barcelona as a youth-team player in 2001 and has won a host of trophies with the Catalan giants, including last season's unprecedented treble. He signed his contract this afternoon at the Nou Camp in the presence of Laporta, his brother Rodrigo, club vice-presidents Rafael Yuste and Joan Boix, technical secretary Txiki Begiristain, and football director Raul Sanllehi.
The announcement had been expected and earlier coach Pep Guardiola expressed delight at the news. "It's an immense piece of news for the club and for the player that Messi is renewing his contract," said Guardiola, "as it also was when Victor Valdes and Xavi did so. People go to football to see the best and that's what they are. It's a privilege for Barca to have some of the best footballers like Messi."