La Liga giants Barcelona will open talks with Lionel Messi soon to extend his contract till 2023, according to reports.
If the contract extension happens, it will be Messi’s ninth since he joined Barcelona as a teenager in 1999.
ESPN reports that the 32-year-old is currently in the final two years of his deal, with his current contract running out in 2021 June. Barcelona do have an option to trigger an automatic extension until 2022, but President Josep Maria Bartomeu is keen to have the Argentine at the club for even longer, which is why he has asked the club’s representatives to approach Messi.
Bartomeu himself will lead the negotiations with Messi’s father Jorge, who is also his agent. According to reports, the forward could extend his contract for four more years, which would then see him remain at the club until 2023.
Messi’s current contract also has a whopping release clause of €700million, which is the second-largest release clause among all footballers in the world – behind Real Madrid star Karim Benzema.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner also earns a reported £1.7million per week, making him the highest-paid player in the history of the sport.
Messi first enrolled at Barcelona’s Youth Academy at age 13.
Then he played for Barcelona’s Juvenile teams before making his debut for the senior team at 16 years, four months, and 23 days old. He came on in the 75th minute as a substitute during a friendly against José Mourinho’s Porto on 16 November 2003.