Messi pens new Barça deal
Lionel Messi has signed his two-year contract extension with Barcelona. The Argentina superstar put pen to paper on his new deal at the Nou Camp this afternoon and is now tied to the Catalan giants until 30 June 2018.
Messi follows in the footsteps of fellow club stalwarts Xavi and Carles Puyol, both of whom signed their extensions last month. Barça announced in December they had agreed new contracts with the trio.
"After Puyol and Xavi, this afternoon it has been Leo Messi's turn. The Argentinean star, accompanied by his father, has signed an extension to his contract with the club until June 30, 2018," said a statement on the club's website.
"The contract was signed in the Barcelona offices with president Sandro Rosell, vice-president Josep Maria Bartomeu and sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta all present."
The contract retains the same €250m ($335m USD) buy-out clause as his previous deal. It is the sixth time in eight seasons that the Argentinian has negotiated a new deal with Barça with the Spanish league leaders understandably keen to tie their talismanic forward down to a long-term deal.
After the signing ceremony, Messi expressed his delight at having committed his long-term future to the Catalan club and reiterated his wish to never play for another European team.
"I'm very happy at Barcelona - I've always said that. It's a fantastic day," he said on fcbarcelona.com. "I don't know how I'll be when I'm 31. I take it one day at a time and I want to continue playing football for Barcelona."
He added: "I said it before - in Europe I'd like to end my career at Barcelona. I wouldn't consider moving to another European club. With that said, I'm not ruling out the possibility of ending my playing career in Argentina."
Messi, 25, came up through the youth ranks at Barça before making his competitive debut against Espanyol in 2004 at the age of 17. Since then he has established himself as one of the best players in history, breaking numerous records in the process.
He won his fourth straight FIFA Ballon d'Or award last month following a remarkable 2012 in which he scored 91 goals - smashing the world record of 85 in a calendar year set by Bayern Munich and West Germany striker Gerd Muller in 1972.
During his time at the Camp Nou, Messi has also helped Barça win a host of silverware, including five La Liga titles, three UEFA Champions Leagues, two Copa del Rey crowns and two FIFA Club World Cups.
Barça defender Jordi Alba is delighted Messi, who will be 31 when his new deal expires, has committed his long-term future to the club. "I can't imagine what Messi will be like in 2018, but it's great news for Barça fans that he's staying," said the Spain international. "He is the best player in the world and as long as nothing happens, he'll be the best ever. We'll try to make him feel as comfortable here as we can."