Lionel Messi has agreed a contract extension which will keep him at Barcelona until the summer of 2021.
The 30-year-old Argentina forward had been linked with Premier League sides Chelsea and Manchester City among others, but is now ready to commit his future to the club he joined at the age of 13.
A statement released on the club’s official website, www.fcbarcelona.com, said: “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.”
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Earlier, reports in Spain suggested the 30-year-old’s buyout clause in this latest contract could be as high as €300million (£264million).
Messi, who made his senior debut as a 16-year-old in a friendly against Porto, has eight LaLiga titles, four Champions League wins and five Copa del Rey successes among his list of honours with the Catalan giants, and club officials are delighted to have secured agreement on another four years.
The statement continued: “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 Barca and has led the team to an era of extraordinary success, the likes of which has never been seen in world football.”
Messi arrived at Barca from Newell’s Old Boys as a teenager in 2000 and made his first competitive appearance against Espanyol as a 17-year-old.
He scored the first of his club record 507 goals – they have come in just 583 matches – against Albacete in May 2005 and has since claimed the Ballon d’Or on five occasions, more than any other player.
However, the club which finished second to Spanish champions Real Madrid and bowed out of the Champions League at the quarter-final stage last season is expecting much, much more from its star man.
The statement added: “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.
“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 Barca fans who will get to continue marvelling at his greatness for at least another four years.”