Messi signs new contract with Barcelona through 2021

FILE - In this file photo dated Saturday, Nov 18, 2017, Barcelona's Lionel Messi follows the action during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between Barcelona and Leganes at the Butarque stadium in Madrid, Spain. Messi has signed a new contract Saturday Nov. 25, 2017, that will keep the star at the Spanish club for four more years.(AP Photo/Francisco Seco, FILE)

By JOSEPH WILSON, Associated Press
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Lionel Messi has finally put Barcelona’s fans at ease by signing a new contract that will keep the star at the Spanish club for four more years.
Messi signed the new deal on Saturday to tie him to Barcelona through 2021, meaning the Argentina forward will be 34 by the time it expires.
With his former contract set to run out next summer, Messi would have been free to listen to offers from other teams on Jan. 1. That approaching deadline had generated speculation that Messi could follow Neymar’s lead and leave.
Messi’s new deal includes a buyout clause of 700 million euros (835 million dollars). That massive figure is aimed at keeping away even the likes of Paris Saint-Germain, which secured Neymar last summer by triggering his buyout clause with a record 222 million euros ($262 million) payout.
Messi has been the heart and soul of Barcelona for more than a decade.
A five-time winner of the Ballon d’Or for soccer’s best player, Messi has helped Barcelona win 30 titles. That haul includes four Champions League titles and eight Spanish league crowns.
Now in his 14th season, Messi is the club’s all-time leading scorer with 523 goals in 602 matches.
He received his fourth Golden Shoe award on Friday for leading all of Europe’s leagues in scoring last season.