Friday, February 08, 2013
LIONEL MESSI SIGNS NEW CONTRACT EXTENSION WITH BARCELONA
Four time world footballer of the year Lionel Messi has signed his two-year contract extension with Barcelona.
The Argentina captain put pen to paper on his new deal at the Nou Camp this afternoon and is now tied to the Catalan giants until June 30, 2018.
Messi follows in the footsteps of fellow club stalwarts Xavi and Carles Puyol, both of whom signed their extensions last month.
Barcelona announced in December they had agreed new contracts with the trio.
It's little wonder Barcelona are keen to tie down Messi's future for as long as possible - the Argentina international has scored 45 goals in 34 appearances this season so far.
And that comes off the back of an incredible 91 goals during the 2012 calendar year.
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 www.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 Barca.'
He added: 'I said it before - in Europe I'd like to end my career at Barca. 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.'
The news was welcomed by Messi's teammate Jordi Alba, who said: 'I can't imagine what Messi will be like in 2018, but it's great news for Barca fans that he's staying.
'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.'
He won his fourth straight FIFA World Player of the Year 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.
While setting that record, Messi became the first man to score five times in a Champions League game as Barca crushed Bayer Leverkusen 7-1 last March.
Three weeks after that he became Barca's all-time leading goalscorer after a brace against Granada moved him on to 233 official goals, one more than the previous record set by Cesar Rodriguez during the 1940s and 50s.
He has been in similarly stunning form in 2013 and his goal in Sunday's 1-1 draw at Valencia was a league-record 12th consecutive game in which he found the net.
During his time at the Nou Camp, Messi has also helped Barca win a host of silverware, including five Primera Division titles, three Champions Leagues, two Copa del Rey crowns and two FIFA Club World Cups.