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Football

Barcelona secure Messi until 2018

Lionel Messi, Carles Puyol and Xavi Hernandez extend their contracts with La Liga's runaway leaders Barcelona.
Last Modified: 18 Dec 2012 13:32
We Three Kings of Barcelona are staying for the long term after renewing contracts [GALLO/GETTY]

Barcelona's Argentinian three-time Ballon D'Or winner Lionel Messi has agreed to renew his contract at the Spanish giants until June 2018, the club said on Tuesday.

Barcelona said in a statement it had reached an agreement with Messi, 25, whose current contract expires in 2016, and he would sign his new deal "in the coming weeks".

It also reached agreements with two of its other top players, veteran defender and captain Carles Puyol and midfielder Xavi Hernandez, who will each sign up to stay until 2016.

"This news means that FC Barcelona has secured its ties with three of its most important players"

Barcelona FC statement

Puyol, 34, agreed to extend his contract when it expires next year and Xavi, 32, will do so when his expires in 2014.

Puyol had said he wants to continue his professional career until he's 40, although he said he didn't want to "have to drag myself onto the field."

Messi scored his 22nd double of 2012, and his sixth in six games, as Barcelona beat Atletico Madrid, their closest rival in the Spanish league, 4-1 on Sunday. 

"This news means that FC Barcelona has secured its ties with three of its most important players," the club said in their statement.

Unbeaten Barcelona are 13 points clear of their fierce rivals, title holders Real Madrid, at the top of the Spanish league, and nine points ahead of second-placed Atletico Madrid.

Messi - who has been at the club since 2004 - is the top scorer in the league with 25 goals so far this season and recently broke Gerd Mueller's 40-year record for the most goals in a calendar year.

Mueller scored 85 in 1972 and Messi has scored 90 so far this year, though there are claims that Godfrey Chitalu of Zambia and Zico of Brazil netted more.

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