Messi deserves new Barcelona contract

Posted by Francesc Tomas

Lionel Messi is clearly the key figure of Barcelona's short- and long-term future. The determined forward has already written his name in golden letters within the Catalan history, and at only 26 years of age, the most encouraging certainty is that his best is still to come.

The Argentine wizard has broken an incredible number of records in his glorious career: top goal scorer in Barcelona's history (331 goals in 401 appearances), most Ballon d'Or awards (4), most goals scored in a single calendar year (91), most consecutive La Liga matches scoring (33 goals in 21 games) and first footballer to score consecutively against all teams in any professional league.

Most importantly, Messi has played a vital role in bringing 21 collective trophies to the Camp Nou museum since his first-team debut in 2004 at only 17 years of age. Full credit must be given to Frank Rijkaard for granting the promising youngster with a fantastic chance to learn and star alongside world-class forwards such as Ronaldinho and Samuel Eto'o.

To say his progression since has been mind-blowing is an understatement. Nearly 10 years after his first game as a professional, La Pulga has become an international icon whose every move is severely scrutinised by supporters and rivals alike. Messi's humble attitude on and off the pitch has certainly enabled him to create a special boy-next-door image that is admired by millions of devoted football lovers around the world.

His status as the world's best player has, unsurprisingly, also brought the attention of many rival club directors. Despite reported interest from major teams such as Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich over the years, Messi has remained faithful to his Blaugrana roots and never even considered a move away from the institution that helped him become the tremendous player he is today.

In an incredibly damaging turn of events, Sandro Rosell resigned from his presidential seat following an official inquiry about the price of Neymar's transfer to Barcelona from Santos last summer.

The new chairman, Josep Maria Bartomeu, was quick to share the real figures behind Neymar's signing following authorisation to lift the confidentiality clauses in the contract. Having analysed the information that was published via the official club website, it became clear that Neymar’s reported 40 million euros signing fee, plus his 8.8 million-a-year wage (plus bonuses) is likely to raise a few eyebrows within Gerardo Martino's dressing room.

While Messi has many reasons other than money to stay at the Camp Nou for the rest of his career, I strongly believe that Barcelona directors must do their absolute best to ensure his salary reflects his position as the club's most influential player and the world's best.

The turmoil at the institutional level cannot be used as an excuse to delay the negotiations with the No. 10 any longer. Unreasonable delay in sorting the situation would add more fuel to the fire and, who knows, even give rivals a glimmer of hope of luring the Argentine forward away from Catalunya.

A hassle-free negotiation period, followed by an official confirmation, would be most welcome. Then we can look forward to enjoying Messi's magic for many years to come.

"Leo is the best player in the world, and we will call his agent and dad, Jorge Messi, so that his son becomes the world's best-paid player." -- Bartomeu

More than 242,000 Cules follow Francesc Tomas at @TomasESPN and Barcablog Facebook for news and opinion notes on Barcelona.


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