Football

Messi agrees new Barca deal

Argentina star set to overtake Ronaldo as world's best-paid footballer

Four-time World Player of the Year Lionel Messi has agreed terms on a new contract with Spanish giants Barcelona, the club confirmed yesterday, likely making him the best-paid player in the world.

"FC Barcelona have reached an agreement to adjust the terms in the contract binding Leo Messi to the club as a professional first-team player. The revised and updated contract will be signed over the next few days," the club said in a statement on their website.

The deal is expected to see Messi overtake Real Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo as the biggest earner in world football.

"There is the will within the club that he becomes the best-paid player in the world," Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu said back in March.

"He is the No. 1 and, as we have said various times, he also deserves to be the best paid player in the world."

Messi has become a legend at Barcelona since making his debut in 2004, scoring 354 goals in 424 games making him the club's all-time leading scorer.

"The deal should allow him to relax and, fundamentally for the club, it is important to tie down the best player in the world," Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino said yesterday. "For Barcelona and for Leo it is very good news."

Should Barca beat Atletico Madrid tonight, the 26-year-old Argentinian will win his seventh La Liga title and his 22nd trophy overall with the Catalans, including three Champions League titles.

While Messi is set to retire at the club, coach Martino's position is not as secure.

Yesterday, former Barca midfielder Luis Enrique stepped down as Celta Vigo coach midway through his two-year contract, fuelling speculation he is poised to replace Martino.

ANNOUNCEMENT

"The time has come to announce that I am not staying in Vigo next season," Enrique told a news conference yesterday without giving away details of his future plans.

A former Barca and Spain midfielder, Enrique took over from Pep Guardiola as coach of Barca's B team in 2008 before a brief and troubled stint at Serie A club AS Roma.

Celta hired him to replace Abel Resino last June and the Galician club have had a fine season under the 44-year-old, playing some of the most attractive football in Spain.

They are eighth with one game left and crowned their campaign with a 2-0 win at home to Real Madrid, another of Luis Enrique's former clubs, last weekend.

- Wire Services.