Barcelona and Argentina superstar Lionel Messi has brought to an end speculation about his future by signing a contract extension with the La Liga leaders.
The 30-year-old’s contract previous contract ran until the summer of 2018. That meant he would have been a free agent next summer while being able to talk to foreign clubs in January.
The news will not come as a major surprise, as speculation has been rife in the Catalan and Spanish press that a deal had already been agreed.
However, until the official announcement of the new deal, everybody connected with the club were nervous about the possibility of the club legend leaving the Nou Camp.
Messi’s new deal will run until 2021 and contains a release clause of £626million. Barcelona’s official club Twitter confirmed the news.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) November 25, 2017
Messi has been a mainstay of the Barcelona team for more than a decade. The diminutive forward has won every honour available in club football with Barcelona. Not only has he won 30 trophies with the Catalan giants, the forward has also won the Ballon d’Or on five occasions, as well as winning the European Golden Shoe on four occasions. Messi has also broken record after record for the Catalan giants and is Barcelona’s all-time leading goalscorer.
The news is a big boost for the Spanish league leaders, who travel to the Mestalla Stadium on Sunday night to face a tough test against second-place Valencia. The home side are enjoying a stellar campaign under highly-rated boss Marcelino. In fact, Los Ches are unbeaten in their 12 La Liga games this season. Valencia are just four points behind the Catalan visitors in the table. A home win would put pressure on Ernesto Valverde’s side at the top of the table.
However, Barcelona have failed to win just one of their 12 La Liga games this season. Messi has been in top form for the Catalan giants this season, topping the La Liga scoring charts with 12 goals.
Ironically, the man closest to Messi in the race for the Pichichi is Simone Zaza of Valencia. The Italian striker has scored nine times this season in the Spanish top-flight and will be looking to add to his tally against the visitors. Zaza’s Los Ches teammate Rodrigo is just two goals behind the former West Ham flop in the scoring stakes.
Valencia will certainly represent a challenge for the visitors. The home sides form at the Mestalla in La Liga of late has been formidable. Marcelino’s side have won five of their last six La Liga games on home soil while scoring three or more goals in their last four home outings.
Barcelona have also been high-scoring in La Liga of late, scoring at least two goals in 18 of their last 19 outings. That scoring record could be put to the test at the Mestalla though, as Marcelino’s side have kept clean sheets in four of their last five outings in the Spanish top-flight.
The Catalan giants will be hoping that it will be a double celebration this weekend. However, the home side will have other ideas, as they look to gain ground on the formidable league leaders.