Messi follows example of Xavi and Puyol by committing to Barcelona until 2018
16:27 GMT, 7 February 2013
18:17 GMT, 7 February 2013
Lionel Messi has signed his two-year contract extension with Barcelona.
The Argentina superstar put pen to paper on his new deal at the Nou Camp this afternoon and is now tied to the Catalan giants until June 30, 2018.
Messi follows in the footsteps of fellow club stalwarts Xavi and Carles Puyol, both of whom signed their extensions last month.
Pen to paper: The four-time Ballon d'Or winner signed a new deal with Barcelona this afternoon
Job done: Barcelona's president Sandro Rosell shakes hands with the Argentina international after he pledged his future to the Catalan club until 2018
Barca announced in December they had agreed new contracts with the trio.
little wonder Barcelona are keen to tie down Messi's future for as long
as possible – the Argentina international has scored 45 goals in 34
appearances this season so far.
And that comes off the back of an incredible 91 goals during the 2012 calendar year.
Sign on the dotted line: Messi arrives at the Camp Nou Stadium this afternoon to sign a new two-year contract extension with Barcelona, which will see him through until 2018. While Messi may again be surging ahead in the goalscoring charts, he is hardly inspiring many with his choice of jacket.
Lionel Messi arrives at the Camp Nou Stadium to sign his new two-year contract extension
The news was welcomed by Messi's teammate Jordi Alba, who said: 'I can't imagine what Messi will be like in 2018, but it's great news for Barca fans that he's staying.
'He is the best player in the world and as long as nothing happens, he'll be the best ever. We'll try to make him feel as comfortable here as we can.'
Dotty: Messi wore an eye-catching tuxedo to pick up his latest Ballon D'Or award last month
Golden balls: Lionel Messi with his FIFA Ballon D'Or collection. He's won the accolade, for the best player in world football, for the last four years
The former Valencia player added: 'I was once unlucky enough to have to face him as an opponent, but now I'm here I'm delighted to have him as a teammate.
'I have never seen anybody capable of doing the things he can do.'
Messi, 25, came up through the youth ranks at Barca before making his competitive debut against Espanyol in 2004 at the age of 17.
Since then he has established himself as one of the best players in history, breaking numerous records in the process.
Delighted: Messi's teammate Jordi Alba (right) was pleased with news of the new contract
He won his fourth straight FIFA World Player of the Year award last month following a remarkable 2012 in which he scored 91 goals – smashing the world record of 85 in a calendar year set by Bayern Munich and West Germany striker Gerd Muller in 1972.
While setting that record, Messi became the first man to score five times in a Champions League game as Barca crushed Bayer Leverkusen 7-1 last March.
Three weeks after that he became Barca's all-time leading goalscorer after a brace against Granada moved him on to 233 official goals, one more than the previous record set by Cesar Rodriguez during the 1940s and 50s.
Familiar: The sight of Lionel Messi celebrating another goal for Barcelona has become a familiar one – he scored an all-time record 91 goals in the 2012 calendar year
He has been in similarly stunning form in 2013 and his goal in Sunday's 1-1 draw at Valencia was a league-record 12th consecutive game in which he found the net.
During his time at the Nou Camp, Messi has also helped Barca win a host of silverware, including five Primera Division titles, three Champions Leagues, two Copa del Rey crowns and two FIFA Club World Cups.