|Bad news for opposition defenders...|
Lionel Messi is here to stay
Lionel Messi has extended his contract at Barcelona until 2018, when he will be 31. Messi’s previous deal ran until 2016 but negotiations have been swift and he has expressed a desire to see out his career at Camp Nou.
The Argentina captain’s formal buy-out clause remains at €250 million and his salary, which is heavily driven by incentives, is understood to begin at around €11 million a year net.
Barcelona also announced that Xavi Hernandez and Carles Puyol have renewed their contracts until 2016. Puyol’s current deal was due to run out at the end of this season while Xavi had two years left to run. Xavi is 32 and Puyol 34.
Speaking on Tuesday, Barcelona club spokesman Toni Freixa said: “It just happened that an agreement they have was reached today just as it could have done on any other day. It is a coincidence, not a strategy.”
Messi, who is in the running for a fourth successive world player of the year award, admitted a month ago that he had not yet talked to Barcelona about a new deal but said he did not anticipate any problems.
His deal has been periodically updated since he made his first-team debut in October 2004. Messi’s last contract was signed in September 2009 having been drawn up by previous sporting director Txiki Beguiristain, who is now at Manchester City.
“Puyol, Messi and Xavi are three basic pillars and it was necessary that they continued to be attached to the club,” said Freixa. “The board are extremely satisfied to be able to give a successful project continuity with the renewals of Xavi, Puyol and Messi.”
Puyol is the club captain while Xavi has played more games and won more trophies than anyone in Barcelona’s history. Together they have won three European Cups, with Messi having scored a record 90 goals this calendar year.
Messi’s deal comes as little surprise, even if negotiations were concluded very quickly. Xavi’s renewal had also been anticipated, although 2016 means that he will remain under contract until the age of 36.
News of Puyol’s deal is little more unexpected. Negotiations had been going on for longer and his existing contract expired on June 31. Other defenders had signed deals before he had and progress appeared slower with the captain.
|Barcelona's most successful captain|
The most striking thing about Puyol’s deal is its length. Having previously renewed on short-term deals, this time he has signed up for a further three years. He will be 38 when the deal expires.
Puyol recently said: “I hope to keep playing until I am 40 but I do not want to be a burden.”