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Messi extension at Barca contributes clarity for Catalan club

For a 26-year old, €20 million a year isn’t too shabby. This is not any 26-year old though. It is Lionel Messi, who can do things with a ball that most magicians could only dream about.

Barcelona’s wizard of dribble first broke onto the scene in 2004, when Frank Rijkaard handed him his first team debut against Espanyol, aged just 17.

A decade later, his talent with a football has made him an instant multi-millionaire – not that he wasn’t one already. After months of negotiation, Messi has put pen-to-paper on a blockbuster contract extension, with performance and scoring based incentives added in.

To date, Messi has hit 354 goals in 424 official appearances and is now the main man in the Catalan club, and the highest scorer in Barcelona’s history. The son of a steel worker, Messi literally engineered his own career, with the help of his father. Aged 11, he was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency and had difficulty finding a club. Thanks to the help of relatives in western Catalonia, Barcelona Sporting Director at the time; Carles Rexach was made aware of the player’s talent and a trial was arranged.

Now about to feature for Argentina in the World Cup, he has almost come full circle. Winning the trophy on his own continent would undoubtedly be his biggest career achievement, especially in front of what is expected to be fierce Brazilian crowds. La Albiceleste are 9/2 to win the tournament, with Messi 7/1 to be tournament top scorer.

His trophy collection at Barcelona boasts one of the best individual records in the modern era. He has six league titles, three Champions League crowns; two Copa del Reys, two Club World Cups and two European Super Cups to his name, and is barely near the peak of his career.

A World Cup winners’ medal would be the icing on the cake, and, after signing a new contract, would end his season nicely.