There are extraordinary years … and then there is the year Leo Messi is having.
So it comes as little surprise that Barcelona FC, the run-away leaders in Spain’s La Liga, have looked at Messi’s contract and decided that 2016 just isn’t long enough.
They have extended his contract two more years, until 2018, ensuring that one of soccer’s all-time bests remains at the Catalan club until past his 31st birthday.
The forward of forwards just scored his 89th and 90th goals of calendar 2012, continuing to add to the record formerly held by Gerd Muller (who scored a record 85 goals 40 years back.) Messi is a favorite to claim FIFA’s Ballon d’Or honor for 2012, which would be his fourth in a row.
Barcelona also extended the deals of midfielder Xavi Hernandez (commonly known just as Xavi) and commanding center back Carles Puyol. Both are now tied to the club through June of 2016.
Xavi’s former deal ran through 2014. He will be 36 when the new deal expires.
Puyol might be the only surprise here, as he is already 34 years old. So he will be 38 when the new deal expires.
As for tying up the backbone of the team, Andres Iniesta remains as the most critical – although several other figures are surely right behind in order of importance. Iniesta, 28, has a deal that now runs through 2014.