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BARCELONA

Messi has had 8 contract renewals, and the 9th won't be ruled out

Messi's last contract renewal in 2017 saw his release clause raised to 700 million euros; and the Barcelona president is hopeful he will sign his ninth extension in the future.
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In a televised interview with Bloomberg back in February, Barcelona president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, was confident that Lionel Messi’s contract renewal in November 2017 – his eighth since 2005 – wouldn’t be his last: “Messi is the best player in the world – our key player. Andres Iniesta is an example. We want him here not as a player, but as a legend in the future. And with Messi I hope it's the same. Now he's got a four-year contract, but I don't think it will be his last.”

Such is the Argentinean’s value and importance to the club, that Barcelona – who were fearful after Neymar’s departure for PSG – raised his release clause to a staggering 700 million euros.

Messi’s first renewal with Barça was in 2005, before he had exploded on to the world stage. He was 18 at the time and signed a contract until 2010, before leading Argentina to the Under 20s World Cup title that summer, where he was also named player of the tournament. The following September, then Barcelona president, Joan Laporta, who was warned about the future star the club had before him, again improved the terms of the young Messi’s contract.

Messi becomes global star

The third contract extension was agreed in January 2007, before his famous hat-trick against Real Madrid, which – if he wasn’t already known worldwide for his display against Chelsea the previous year – made him a global celebrity in the footballing world. His release clause was set at 150 million euros.

With the arrival of Guardiola in 2008 and with Ronaldinho having moved on, Messi again extended his contract and became Barça’s franchise player. After winning the treble in 2009, he again renewed his contract, this time until 2016 and with a release clause set at 250 million euros. In December 2012, he renewed for the sixth time, raising his salary from 10.5 million to 12 million euros per year, with the buy-out clause remaining at 250 million euros.

The seventh renewal came just before the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, with Barcelona raising his annual salary to 20 million euros. Without pending renewal, his salary rose to 39.4 million euros per year in 2016. The last contract renewal was agreed in the summer of 2017 and eventually signed the following November.

Barcelona stands by Messi after tax-fraud case

Earlier that year, Barça strongly defended Messi, after he and his father were both handed a 21-month prison sentence for tax fraud in May (although the pair never served the time, as it was a first offence and the sentence was under 24 months, which is the norm in Spain).

"We are not going to allow Messi to be treated like a criminal," said club spokesman Josep Vives, who also launched a campaign to support the Argentinean, titled “We are all Messi". This show of support from the club was enough to convince Messi to renew, despite some tensions at the time, and the Argentine spoke candidly of his love for Barcelona that May: "Better here than anywhere. It's the best team and the best city in the world.”