Barcelona on Saturday announced that Lionel Messi had finally signed a new contract at the club.
The Blaugrana posted the following via Twitter, revealing the 30-year-old had agreed to stay at the club until 2021:
FC Barcelona @FCBarcelona
He made his debut 4,788 days ago. He has played 602 games. He has scored 523 goals. He has won 30 trophies. The story continues. #Messi2021 https://t.co/XPdIhvaqgI2017-11-25 11:02:41
A statement on the club's official website noted the buyout clause in Messi's new deal stands at €700 million (£626 million).
There had previously been concern among the Barca fanbase about Messi's renewal. Had the deal not been signed by January, any team outside of La Liga could have approached the Argentina international with a contract with a view to a summer switch.
And while there were noises coming out of the club that suggested all was under control, there was a nervousness with the extension not rubber-stamped. After all, it was back in July when Barcelona suggested a deal would be signed "in the coming weeks."
BT Sport Football suggested this bit of business is the most important in football:
BT Sport Football @btsportfootball
Messi for Barcelona 🐏 European Golden Shoe 🏆🏆🏆🏆 Champions League 🏆🏆🏆🏆 LaLiga POTY 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆 Copa Del Rey 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆 LaLiga 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆 Supercopa 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆 Pichichi Trophy 🏆🏆🏆🏆 Uefa Super Cup 🏆🏆🏆 Ballon d'Or 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆 Uefa POTY 🏆🏆🏆 Fifa CWC 🏆🏆🏆 https://t.co/4h1OkKuJja2017-11-25 11:40:28
The forward picked up the European Golden Shoe, handed to the leading goalscorer among Europe's top divisions, for the fourth time in his professional career on Friday. It was a reminder of how much influence he still has on the Blaugrana.
Those who watch the Catalan giants won't need much refreshing, though, as Messi has continued to set incredible standards since making his first-team debut in 2004. He's won La Liga on eight occasions and the UEFA Champions League four times.
That he continues to be so prolific is a testament to Messi's genius. These numbers from Sky Sports Statto sum up just how consistent he has been:
Sky Sports Statto @SkySportsStatto
Lionel Messi has signed a new @FCBarcelona contract to 2021 523 goals in 602 apps since debut in Oct 2004 Scored 40+ goals in each of last 8 seasons Won 4 #UCL titles & 8 #LaLiga championships https://t.co/P3HXjcucYe2017-11-25 11:26:39
In recent years, he's taken up more of a withdrawn role in the Barcelona side, looking to link play and conjure chances for team-mates. But he still finds a way into dangerous positions and is still ruthless when chances drop to him.
There aren't many signs he's slowing down, either. More responsibility has been thrust on to him this season following Neymar's summer departure to Paris Saint-Germain, but Messi has flourished. He's netted 12 times in 12 league games, and the team has won 11 and drawn once.
Barcelona supporters endured a tough summer after Neymar left and the club struggled to secure key transfer targets. But ensuring Messi remains with the team for the foreseeable future will give all associated with the Blaugrana an incredible boost.