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Freixa: Barca's future safeguarded

Barcelona board spokesperson Toni Freixa says the new long-term deals agreed with Lionel Messi, Xavi Hernandez and Carles Puyol will safeguard the future of the best side in the Catalan club's history.

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Barcelona announced on Wednesday that Messi, 25, is to extend his contract to tie him to the club until June 2018, with Puyol, 34, and Xavi, 32, also penning new deals stretching up to June 2016.

Speaking after a board meeting on Tuesday, Freixa said that all Barcelona fans were delighted with the prospect of keeping the club's best ever squad of players together.

"The board are happy to make this announcement," he said. "We want to continue this successful sporting project. They are three essential members of the best Barca side ever. This is extraordinary news that all 'barcelonismo' is celebrating."

Freixa said he expected each player to formally sign his new contract on a separate day in early 2013.

"The contract renewals will all take place in the coming weeks, probably after the holiday season," he said. "We announced all three together, but each will have his individual moment."

The club secretary said the release clauses in each player's contract would not be increased, but declined to comment on rumours that Messi's salary would rise to around €16 million a year after tax.

"Some (salaries) have increased and others have not," Freixa said. "There was no rush, this is the logical result of the work which was put in. But there were no difficulties."

Frexia also spoke about Eric Abidal's future, with rumours circulating in Catalonia that the French international could be close to returning to first team action.

"The club wants what Abidal wants," he said. "He has made an extraordinary effort, and he is happy to have done so because he can live a satisfactory life again. Whether he stays will depend on what he himself decides, and Barca will always be there at his side".

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