Lionel Messi has finally put Barcelona’s fans at ease with a new contract that will keep the star at the Spanish club for four more years.
According to Associated Press, Messi signed the new deal on Saturday to tie him to Barcelona through 2021, meaning the Argentina forward will be 34 by the time it expires.
“I’m happy to continue with the club, which is my home,” Messi said. “My dream was to finish my career at Barca and we are moving down that path.”
With his former contract set to run out next summer, Messi would have been free to listen to offers from other teams on Jan. 1. That approaching deadline had generated speculation that Messi could follow Neymar’s lead and leave.
Messi’s new deal includes a buyout clause of 700 million euros ($835 million). That massive figure is aimed at keeping away even the likes of French side Paris Saint-Germain, which secured Neymar in the summer by triggering his buyout clause with a record 222 million euros ($262 million) payout.
Club president Josep Bartomeu said that Barcelona and Messi had already agreed to a new deal in June, but that following Neymar’s departure they revised it to more than double the buyout clause. It had originally been set at 300 million euros ($358 million).
Bartomeu said the new contract “is more in line with the current situation in the ever-changing world of football.”
The club did not reveal any more financial details of the contract, including Messi’s salary. According to El Mundo newspaper, Messi will receive 30 million euros ($35.8 million) per season along with a signing bonus of 50 million euros ($59.6 million).
Messi has been the heart and soul of Barcelona for more than a decade. A five-time winner of the Ballon d’Or for soccer’s best player, Messi has helped Barcelona win 30 titles since he arrived from Argentina at age 13. That haul includes four Champions League titles and eight Spanish league crowns.
Now in his 14th season, Messi is the club’s all-time leading scorer with 523 goals in 602 matches.
He received his fourth Golden Shoe award on Friday for leading all of Europe’s leagues in scoring last season.
“The objective is to continue achieving things, fill the club’s trophy cases, and keep making history at Barca,” Messi said. “We’ve been lucky enough to have won a great many things and I hope there will be more in the future.”