Lionel Messi, Xavi, Carles Puyol to Extend Contracts With FC Barcelona, Preserve Nucleus for Years to Come

Lionel Messi, Xavi, AdrianoBarcelona has announced it has come to an agreement to renew the contracts of the club’s most important players. The backbone of the team, Lionel Messi, Xavi Hernández and Carles Puyol, will keep defending the Catalan team colors for quite some time.

Messi agreed to a new contract with Barcelona on Tuesday that will keep him with the Spanish powerhouse through 2018.

The 25-year-old Messi, a three-time world player of the year, has 90 goals so far in 2012, surpassing Gerd Mueller’s 40-year-old record of 85 in a calendar year.

Messi, whose contract was due to expire on June 30, 2016, extended his commitment to the club to June 30, 2018, Barcelona said in a statement. He will be 31 years old when his contract expires.

Puyol and Xavi extended theirs to June 2016, and they will be 38 and 36 receptively by then. Puyol will have been with the first team for 17 seasons and Xavi for 18 by then.

“This news means that FC Barcelona has secured its ties with three of its most important players,” the statement said, adding that the contracts would be signed “over the course of the next few weeks.”

Puyol, the 34-year-old captain, had said he wants to continue his professional career until he’s 40, although he said he didn’t want to “have to drag myself onto the field.”

Messi scored his 22nd double of 2012, and his sixth goal in six games, when Barcelona beat Atletico Madrid 4-1 on Sunday, opening up a nine-point lead over its closest rival in the Spanish league.

Relying on the Argentina forward’s uncanny ability to puncture defenses, Barcelona has shot to a Spanish-league record start of 15 victories in 16 rounds.

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