Lionel Messi: Added Pressure from New Contract Won't Slow Down Barcelona Star

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistDecember 19, 2012

BARCELONA, SPAIN - DECEMBER 16:  Lionel Messi of Barcelona celebrates scoring his sides third goal during the la Liga match between FC Barcelona and Club Atletico de Madrid at the Camp Nou stadium on December 16, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)
Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

Barcelona sensation Lionel Messi has scored goals at an eye-popping rate in 2012, breaking Gerd Muller's record for most goals in a calendar year with 90 and counting. Not even the added attention and pressure from his new deal can stop him.

On Tuesday, Barca announced they had reached an agreement with the Argentine forward on a contract extension that will keep him with the club through 2018. It adds two more years to his stay at Camp Nou, where he's spent his entire career.

The most amazing part of the contract remains the buyout clause, which checks in at an astonishing £203 million, according to Sid Lowe of the Guardian. It's Barcelona's way of saying other clubs shouldn't even bother thinking about him.

Normally, the first concern fans would have after a player extends their contract is whether or not they will live up to the hype. Every deal adds a major burden to the player's shoulders, especially when it's a mega contract like Messi has earned.

Countless stars have wilted under the pressure of big deals over the years, with fellow strikers Fernando Torres and Andy Carroll immediately coming to mind as recent examples. The expectations are not easy to deal with.

Yet, it would be a major surprise if Messi's production falls off even a little bit. He's comfortable at Camp Nou, possesses unmatched talent and has dealt with the pressure of new contracts in the past. It's all part of being the world's best player.

That's exactly what Messi is right now. The 25-year-old magician is a strong contender to win his fourth straight Ballon d'Or and has led the charge as Barcelona have gone unbeaten in their first 16 La Liga matches this season.

Messi has scored 34 goals in 25 matches across all competitions for the Blaugrana this season. His career totals are mind-boggling, with 287 goals in 354 appearances, all in a Barca uniform. That type of sustained success with one club is rare nowadays.

That's probably why Barcelona felt the need to lock him up for a couple of extra years. It's hard to imagine him playing for another club, so the club wanted to ensure it's not a concern for a long, long time.

The deal carries limited risk because Messi is the surest bet in sports. It's reached a point where football fans around the globe have to do a double take when the Barca forward isn't listed with at least one goal in a match. He's a goal-scoring machine.

Over the years, there has been plenty of talk about how successful Messi would be with another squad, which wouldn't be able to match Barcelona's depth. It's an interesting question.

Barcelona took another step toward ensuring nobody ever finds out the answer. Messi will continue to star at Camp Nou for the foreseeable future.