Messi signs seven-year Barcelona contract

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The Independent Football

Argentina striker Lionel Messi has signed a new seven-year contract to tie him to European champions Barcelona until the summer of 2016.

The 22-year-old has been at the Camp Nou since 2001 and his new deal includes a buyout clause of 250million euros.

A statement on the club's official website confirmed: "Leo Messi has extended and improved his contract which links him to FC Barcelona.

"The Argentinian will be azulgrana until 2016 and has, from now, a release clause of 250million euros.

"Having previously had a contract until 2014 with a clause of 150million euros the club have improved the player's deal.

"With this new contract, Leo Messi ensures he will be azulgrana for 15 years, having started his career at Barca in 2001, in the youth sectors of the club."

Barca head coach Pep Guardiola added: "It's an immense piece of news for the club and for the player that Messi is renewing his contract. As it also was when Victor Valdes and Xavi did so.

"People go to football to see the best and that's what they are. It's a privilege for Barca to have some of the best footballers like Messi."

Meanwhile, UEFA president Michel Platini has hailed Barcelona's style of football and believes the Spanish side deserve the tag of European champions.

The Catalan club won the Spanish league, domestic cup and Champions League last season and Platini has waxed lyrical about the quality of football played at the Camp Nou.

Speaking after watching Saturday's 5-2 La Liga rout of Atletico Madrid, Platini enthused: "In Barca, the ball runs not the players.

"Their passing tires out the opposition. Therefore they always manage to control the game."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Daniel Alves, Seydou Keita and two goals from Lionel Messi put Atletico to the sword and helped keep Barca at the top of the La Liga table.