Lionel Messi has signed his new contract with Barcelona, the Camp Nou side have confirmed.
Messi’s new deal will run until 2021 and has a release clause of €700 million.
The 30-year-old attacker’s future had been the subject of much speculation, as his previous contract was due to expire at the end of June 2018, which would have left him able to negotiate with rivals as of January 1.
The news is a massive boost to the club, who saw Andres Iniesta sign a new contract amid similar rumours earlier this season.
There were reports that Messi was not happy with the running of the side, too, which generated rumours that he could depart.
President Josep Maria Bartomeu, however, was insistent that a deal had been reached with the academy graduate, who has established himself as one of the world’s elite players during a professional career at Camp Nou spanning 14 years, having first arrived at the club as a 13-year-old in 2000.
During this period, Messi has played 602 times for the Catalans and has scored 523 goals, helping them to 30 trophies – a joint club record held alongside team-mate Andres Iniesta.
He has won La Liga on eight occasions, earned five Copa del Rey crowns and four Champions League titles.
On a personal basis, he has five Ballons d’Or to his credit, the latest of which he won in 2015. On Friday, he picked up a fourth European Golden Shoe, equalling the record of great rival Cristiano Ronaldo. Moreover, he has shattered records at all levels, notably being the Spanish top-flight’s all-time top marksman.
Having entered his fourth decade, he shows no sign of allowing his form to slip. In the first 19 appearances of the 2017-18 season, he has amassed 16 goals in all competitions and has been credited with a further five assists.
His new deal will keep him at Barca until he is 34, with club legend Xavi suggesting that might be a good point to retire. However, the player has previously expressed his desire to one day return to childhood club Newell’s Old Boys.
Barcelona currently enjoy a four-point lead over second placed Valencia in the Primera Division, with a 10-point gap back to Real Madrid.