Barcelona, Messi okay contract

MADRID: Barcelona and Lionel Messi have reached an agreement on an improved contract which will make the Argentine star the squad’s highest paid player, Spanish television TVE reported on Friday. Under the new deal Messi will earn 9.5 million euros per year, compared to nine million which Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who joined the European champions from Inter Milan last month, will make, it said citing club sources.

The 22-year-old will sign the new contract, which will also see him stay with the Spanish champions until 2014, when the squad return from their pre-season tour of the United States. Messi is currently under contract with Barca until 2010.

Earlier Barcelona president Joan Laporta said he was optimistic that the club would reach an agreement with the player. “What is most important is the commitment and affection between the two sides. That clears the way for everything to go as it should when it comes time to draw up the paperwork,” he said.