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AT LAST MESSI SIGNS BARCELONA NEW CONTRACT

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Lionel Messi has finally put Barcelona’s fans at ease with a new contract that will keep the star at the Spanish club for four more years.

According to Associated Press, 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.

“I’m happy to continue with the club, which is my home,” Messi said. “My dream was to finish my career at Barca and we are moving down that path.”

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). That massive figure is aimed at keeping away even the likes of French side Paris Saint-Germain, which secured Neymar in the summer by triggering his buyout clause with a record 222 million euros ($262 million) payout.

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Club president Josep Bartomeu said that Barcelona and Messi had already agreed to a new deal in June, but that following Neymar’s departure they revised it to more than double the buyout clause. It had originally been set at 300 million euros ($358 million).

Bartomeu said the new contract “is more in line with the current situation in the ever-changing world of football.”

The club did not reveal any more financial details of the contract, including Messi’s salary. According to El Mundo newspaper, Messi will receive 30 million euros ($35.8 million) per season along with a signing bonus of 50 million euros ($59.6 million).

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 since he arrived from Argentina at age 13. 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.

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He received his fourth Golden Shoe award on Friday for leading all of Europe’s leagues in scoring last season.

“The objective is to continue achieving things, fill the club’s trophy cases, and keep making history at Barca,” Messi said. “We’ve been lucky enough to have won a great many things and I hope there will be more in the future.”

 

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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La Liga

Napkin used by Barcelona to sign Messi sold for nearly $1 million

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A signed and framed napkin on which soccer club Barcelona promised to sign a 13-year-old Lionel Messi is displayed at the Bonhams auction house in London, Britain May 8, 2024. REUTERS/Will Russell/File Photo

The napkin on which Barcelona promised to sign Lionel Messi when he was a 13-year-old has been sold for 762,400 pounds ($969,000, auction house Bonhams said on Friday.

The napkin was signed in December, 2000 by Barca’s former sporting director Carles Rexach and transfer advisor Josep Minguella along with Argentine agent Horacio Gaggioli over lunch at a tennis club.

Messi became one of Barcelona’s greatest players, winning over 30 trophies and leaving the Catalan club as their all-time leading scorer with 672 goals.

He also won a record eight Ballon d’Or awards for the world’s best player and led Argentina to the World Cup crown in 2022. Messi now plays for U.S. club Inter Miami in Major League Soccer.

“Yes, it’s a paper napkin, but it’s the famous napkin that was at the inception of Lionel Messi’s career,” Ian Ehling, the head of fine books and manuscripts at Bonhams New York, said in a statement.

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“It changed the life of Messi, the future of FC Barcelona, and was instrumental in giving some of the most glorious moments of football to billions of fans around the globe.”

-Reuters

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La Liga

Racially Abused Senegalese Goalkeeper Speaks Out After Abandoned Spanish Match –

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Racially Abused Senegalese Goalkeeper Speaks Out After Abandoned Spanish Match -

Senegalese goalkeeper Cheikh Sarr has heard racial slurs directed at him from the stands before, but when a fan allegedly approached just to racially insult him during a Spanish third-tier league game last Saturday, he decided he’d had enough.

“I grabbed him and asked why he was insulting me. My attitude was not aggressive, I just wanted to ask him why,” the 23-year-old told reporters on Tuesday of the incident in Sestao, a working-class town in northern Spain, which led to the game being abandoned.

“Other times it could be seen as something playful or a joke. However, this was not the case on Saturday, as it was something horrible and I could not stop myself. It was a very sad and ugly thing what they were saying,” he added.

The match between Sarr’s Rayo Majadahonda and Sestao River Club was suspended in the 84th minute after the altercation first led to Sarr being expelled by the referee, who was too far to hear the alleged insults, and then his team mates leaving the pitch in protest.

Racism in sport has been a hot topic in Spain, especially after Real Madrid’s Brazil winger Vinicius Jr, who has suffered from several incidents of racist abuse and is part of a campaign against racism, last year called LaLiga and Spain racist.

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On Saturday, he spoke out in support of those affected on social media again, citing “three despicable cases of racism” on that day alone, including Sarr’s.

Sevilla’s Argentina defender Marcos Acuna and coaching staff were also the target of “racist and xenophobic insults” from fans in a LaLiga game at Getafe, the club said.

Sarr said he was thankful that Vinicius had tagged him on social media showing support.

“If more players said no to racism like he does, they (racists) wouldn’t have the power they have now,” he said.

Reuters

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Sex-convict, Alves Spends First Day Of Provisional Freedom With All-night Party –

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Former Barcelona star, Brazilian Dani Alves, who was provisionally released from prison after over a year in prison celebrated his temporary reprieve with an all-night party.

Although his release from prison was temporary, after he was convicted and faces a 4-and-a-half-year prison sentence, Italian newspaper,  Corriere dello Sport reported that the Brazilian organized a noisy party to celebrate his father’s birthday.

The newspaper indicated that Alves held this party last Tuesday, and continued until five in the morning in the presence of family and friends, to celebrate his father on the one hand, and also to enjoy his freedom on the other hand after spending a long period behind bars.

The camera of the Spanish “Telefónico” network was following the steps of the legend of the oldest Brazilian player to participate in the World Cup, until he arrived at his home, located 25 minutes from downtown Barcelona.

The first thing Alves did after arriving at his home was to order a large amount of “burgers” for dinner, the first meal that the former right-back ate after his release from the “Brian 2” prison in Barcelona.

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According to several Spanish media outlets, Alves distributed his belongings  such as clothes and a small fan to the prisoners who had been by his side for more than 430 days,

Alves, 40, was accused of raping a woman in a nightclub, and was sentenced to 4 and a half years in prison last February, before a decision was issued for his conditional release

 

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