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May 16, 2014

Messi agrees to new Barcelona deal

ESPN's Jeremy Schapp sits down for an exclusive interview with Lionel Messi.

Barcelona have announced that Lionel Messi has agreed terms on a new contract.

Delaney: Changes at Barcelona
Emotional farewell for Puyol
Valdes says goodbye to Barca
• Enrique confirms Celta Vigo exit

Messi's current deal ends in June 2018 and contains a 250 million euro release clause, and those details are apparently set to remain unchanged, but Spanish newspaper El Pais claims he will receive a pay-rise from 13 million euros to 20 million euros ($27 million) net a season, not including incentives.

Talks on an improved deal have been ongoing since last autumn, when it became clear that teammate Neymar and Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo were imposing on his status as the world's best-paid player.

Ronaldo's salary averages out to between a reported 18-20 million euros net annually, although Real Madrid have never confirmed the figures. Barcelona, under leadership duress as well as a legal investigation over taxes earlier this year, released details of Neymar's salary, which showed the Brazilian star earning a net seven million euros annually, minus bonuses.

As talks dragged on there was even speculation over recent months -- dismissed last week by Messi himself as "crazy stuff" -- that the Barca board had considered putting the 26-year-old up for sale to use the 250 million euros for a complete overhaul of the squad this summer.

Clubs including Manchester City, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and even Real Madrid were mentioned as possible new destinations for the four-time Ballon d'Or winner.

However, a statement on the club's official website on Friday morning read: "FC Barcelona has reached an agreement to adjust the terms in the contract binding Leo Messi to the club as a professional first team player. The revised and updated contract will be signed over the next few days."

Barca coach Gerardo Martino said the development was excellent for everyone at the Camp Nou.

Speaking at a news conference ahead of the title-decider with Atletico Madrid, he said: "These are matters that will help bring tranquility for Leo and for the club. Obviously anything that is good for him is good for us. It will help him to bring us more on the pitch. Whatever is good for Leo is good for Barcelona."

Messi is seven goals shy of becoming the Spanish league's all-time leading scorer. He has scored 354 goals at Barcelona, including five straight seasons of at least 40.

The four-time Ballon d'Or winner has scored 28 league goals this season.

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