Messi signs new Barcelona deal to steal Ronaldo's cash crown
After agreeing a new contract, can Argentine win La Liga and add the World Cup to his CV?
LIONEL MESSI should go to the World Cup with a spring in his step after signing a new deal with Barcelona that will make him the world's highest-paid player, leapfrogging his perennial rival Cristiano Ronaldo.
News of the new deal, which will tie him to Barcelona until 2019, comes on the eve of the club's Spanish title decider against Champions League finalists Atletico Madrid at Camp Nou.
The 26-year-old Argentine, who has scored 41 goals in what has been regarded as a below-par season by his standards, will be paid a minimum of £16.3m a season, with other incentives on top, according to Spanish newspaper Sport.
Messi's existing deal, signed only 15 months ago, tied him to Barcelona until 2018, but the new contract has improved terms and runs until 2019, by which time he will be 32.
"The announcement follows lengthy negotiations during which it was reported that Messi wanted to surpass Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo as the best-paid player in the world," says the BBC.
Although he is only 26, Messi is about to enter his second decade as a first team player at Barcelona, having made his first team debut for the Catalans in November 2004 as a 17-year-old.
Messi could celebrate the new deal by inspiring his team to the La Liga title, a feat that looked distinctly unlikely just a few weeks ago as the team's form evaporated. If Barcelona win against league leaders Atletico on Saturday they will snatch the title by the slenderest of margins, claiming the trophy thanks to Barca's superior record in head-to-head matches.
It would add a seventh league title to his incredible haul which also includes three Champions League crowns, two Copa del Reys, two Club World Cups and two European Super Cups. The only thing missing from his collection is a World Cup winner's medal, something Messi could remedy in the next few weeks.