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Sep, 14, 2009

Messi to be Barca's biggest earner with new deal

Lionel Messi will become Barcelona's highest-paid player when he signs a new contract this week, according to club president Joan Laporta.

The Argentina star, 22, is one of world football's leading lights and last season helped inspire Barcelona to an unprecedented treble as they collected the Primera Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League titles.

Messi scored 38 goals in all competitions, as well as claiming 16 assists, and is rated as one of the favourites to succeed Cristiano Ronaldo as FIFA World Player of the Year in December.

The forward's current contract expires in 2014 but Barca are determined to keep hold of the Nou Camp hero and, despite the high-profile signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the summer, have agreed a deal that will see Messi rise to the top of the club's top earners list.

"Leo should be the highest-paid player in the squad," Laporta told Catalan radio. "He deserves it. He's the best player in the world and one of the best in football history.

"Messi has already agreed to a new contract. He's content and that's why he's playing the way he is."

Laporta is also hopeful of retaining the services of captain Carles Puyol despite recent suggestions that the player may not be entirely happy at Camp Nou following the acquisition of Ukrainian defender Dmytro Chygrynskiy.

"I am convinced that Puyol is keen to end his career at Barca," Laporta said. "But I also understand that a player of his age examines the possibility of having an experience outside of Spain."

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