Messi debut

ESPN on Messi's contract extension with FC Barcelona

Maradona, Stoichkov, Romario, César, Ronaldinho, Cruyff ... thousands of contracts have been inked over the years in the Camp Nou offices but none so important as the one that was signed last week, says ESPN’s Francesc Tomas. The Catalan journalist believes that Leo Messi’s decision to re-up his contract with FC Barcelona through 2018, which didn’t come as a surprise to the footballing world, is a landmark moment in Club history.

“Messi's new contract is the most important document to ever be signed at the Camp Nou offices,” writes Tomas. “La Pulga has reached a point of maturity in his career where he is not only capable of delivering mesmerising individual performances, but can also take the rest of the team forward with him. Being the key player in a system that includes other world-class footballers such as Andres Iniesta, Xavi or Cesc Fabregas definitely helps, but his influence is also beginning to be more increasingly evident at international level when on duty with Argentina.”

Messi, who along with other Club greats such as Xavi, Iniesta, Puyol and Valdés, has been part of a team that has brought unprecedented success to the Blaugrana since his debut for the Club in the 2003/04 season. Five La Liga trophies, three Champions Leagues, two Cups, two Club World Cups, two European Super Cups and five Spanish Super Cups adorn the FC Barcelona Museum walls thanks, in part, to the Argentinian’s genius.

“Sure, the collective success of Barcelona can definitely not be attributed to one individual,” says Tomas, “but there is simply no doubt that at least some these trophies wouldn't have made their way to Catalunya had the tiny Argentinean not been part of the squad.

“Ultimately, the relationship between Barcelona and Messi is a clear example of a job well done so far, but it certainly doesn't end here. Let's sit back and enjoy witnessing where La Pulga's brilliance takes the club for many years to come.”

Read Francesc Tomas' article in its entirety here.

• Keep calm and listen to Mascherano

“Javier Mascherano is, without a doubt, a gentleman that we don’t come across enough in this sport,” writes Ryugarato for Grada y Banquillo. “When he was asked about the controversial events that transpired in the most recent Clásico, he elegantly avoided them and he refused to pass judgement or single out anyone for blame.”

Javier Mascherano landed in Barcelona in the summer of 2010 to sign for FC Barcelona from Liverpool. After the signing ceremony at the Camp Nou, Mascherano noted that “The easy thing would have been to stay with Liverpool. My place was assured, but I wanted to know if I could play for a team like Barça, be part of a team that’s on its way to known for how it plays, not for what it wins. That’s more important than winning titles.”

The Argentinian player “hasn’t only excelled in his play, but he’s shown that he’s an exceptional person,” writes Ryugarato. He's “always avoided controversy and he’s shown that you don’t have to be a Masia graduate to be humble and have values ... It’s an honour to players like Mascherano on the pitch."