Messi joins Xavi and Puyol in agreeing new Barcelona deals

Lionel Messi receives the congratulations of Xavi (hidden) and Carles Puyol (right) after scoring against Real Betis on December 9, the goal that broke Gerd Mueller's 40-year record.

Story highlights

  • Lionel Messi agrees two-year extension to current deal
  • Contract will tie Argentine to Barcelona until he is 31
  • Xavi and Carles Puyol also agree new deals with Spanish giants

Lionel Messi has agreed a new contract with Barcelona, which will keep the Argentine at the Spanish club until 2018.

The 25-year-old already had a deal that expired with the European giants in 2016, but that has now been extended by two years.

Messi has been in sensational form this year, scoring 90 goals for both club and country to surpass the previous goalscoring record for a calendar year set by Gerd Mueller in 1972, when the German scored 85 goals.

Read: Messi beats Mueller's 40-year record

The 21-time Spanish champions have also verbally agreed new deals with midfielder Xavi, who will extend his contract from 2014 until 2016, while defender Carles Puyol, whose contract had been due to expire next year, will stay with Barca until 2016.

None of the players has yet to put pen to paper on their new contracts but the Barca website says this will happen "over the course of the next few weeks".

"This news means that FC Barcelona has secured its ties with three of its most important players," the club said on its official website.

Lionel Messi breaks goal scoring record
Lionel Messi breaks goal scoring record


    Lionel Messi breaks goal scoring record


Lionel Messi breaks goal scoring record 01:51
Messi wins third straight Ballon D'or
Messi wins third straight Ballon D'or


    Messi wins third straight Ballon D'or


Messi wins third straight Ballon D'or 02:25

While both club captain Puyol, 34, and Xavi, 32, are significant figures at the club, Barcelona officials are likely to look upon the extension of Messi's deal as the most important.

Widely regarded as the best footballer in the world, the diminutive Argentina international has often spoke of the debt of gratitude he believes he owes the Catalan club.

At the age of 11, Messi was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency and neither his existing club in his home town Rosario -- Newell's Old Boys -- nor Buenos Aires giants River Plate were prepared to provide the money to treat his condition, which amounted to some US$1,000 per month.

Instead, Barcelona, who had been made aware of his talents, offered to pay the medical bills of a boy who stood just 4ft 6in as long as he was prepared to move to Spain, a decision which Messi confirmed when signing his first contract with the club on the back of a paper napkin.

The 13-year-old moved to Barcelona with his family in 2000 -- and the rest is (ongoing) history.

Despite his tender age, Messi has amassed a staggering collection of trophies and records.

Since making his Barcelona debut in 2003, he has collected three UEFA Champions League crowns, two FIFA Club World Cup titles, five Spanish league championships and two Copa del Rey medals.

Along the way, he has scored more goals for the club in both the Spanish league and European competition than any other player in Barcelona's illustrious 113-year history.

On a personal basis, he has won three consecutive World Player of the Year titles and is favorite to beat teammate Andres Iniesta and Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo to win this year's FIFA Ballon D'Or (as the award became known in 2010).

Should he do so, Messi will become the first footballer to win the prestigious honor on four separate occasions -- a record that would be made all the more notable by the absence of a World Cup winner's medal in his cabinet.

For despite winning the 1995 FIFA World Youth Cup and the 2008 Olympic Games with Argentina, Messi has yet to go past the quarterfinals of the World Cup -- and many commentators believe he needs to win that trophy if he is to lay claim to being the greatest footballer the world has ever seen.

      Football Focus

    • French football great bids adieu

      After 20 years, more than 300 goals and a host of major honors, Thierry Henry has called time on his glittering football career.
    • Mario's 'Queen' tweet tops 2014 list

      He might be struggling to score goals for Liverpool, but Mario Balotelli's cheeky tweet about the British monarch hit the spot during the World Cup.
    • bpr south african soccor senzo meyiwa death _00000402.jpg

      Loss of a South African 'icon'

      Football world mourns South African captain Senzo Meyiwa who was shot and killed during a botched robbery in a township near Johannesburg.
    • German alleged jihadist Kreshnik B (R) listens to his lawyer Mutlu Guenal (L) as he arrives at the higher regional court in Frankfurt. His face is pixelated for legal reasons.

      From Jewish football to ISIS suspect

      Once part of Germany's largest Jewish sports club, now he's the first ISIS suspect to stand trial in a country left shocked by his alleged radicalization.
    • Where has 'Super' Mario gone?

      One goal in eight matches for new club Liverpool, and dumped by the Italian national team -- Mario Balotelli has yet to shine on his English return.
    • Ched Evans smiles during the Wales training session ahead of their UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier against England on March 25, 2011 in Cardiff, Wales.

      Should rapist return to work?

      Should a convicted rapist, who has served their time in prison, be allowed to resume their old job? What if that job was as a high-profile football player?
    • Teen, 15, makes Euro history

      Norwegian 15-year-old Martin Odegaard is the youngest player ever to feature in a European Championships qualifying match.