The signing of Leo Messi's new contract with FC Barcelona will go down in history. The Argentina captain, who has represented Barça for the last 17 seasons, could end up playing 22 seasons at for the Catalan giants. By doing so, he would go down in the record books as another 'One Club Man': the term used to describe the select group of players who only represented one club throughout their professional careers.
While Messi played for the Newell's Old Boys youth team in his home city of Rosario, he moved to Barcelona at 13 years of age. Once on Spanish soil, he started playing for the club's Infantil side (U13s) in the 2000-01 season. His meteoric rise saw him pass rapidly through the club's various youth ranks, representing Cadete B (2001-02), Cadete A (2002-03), Juvenil A, Barça C and Barça B (2003-04) before making his debut for the first team in the 2004-05 season.
He's spent his entire footballing life at Barça, from an academy player to a fully-fledged first team star. What makes Leo special isn't his meteoric rise to the pinnacle of European football, playing for Barça at Camp Nou, but how he has managed to maintain his peak level of performance, season after season, while registering numbers that have never been seen before: 778 official matches, 672 goals, 266 assists, 35 titles, 542 wins and 48 hat tricks.
FC Barcelona's recent history cannot be understood without the Argentina star, who is an undisputed dressing room leader and one of those rare breeds of footballers who are capable of making the difference through natural talent alone.
Messi has given Barcelona many glorious afternoons and evenings that will live long in the hearts of the Barça fanbase. And once his new contract is formalised, he will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. In fact, the Rosario-born striker wants to arrive at the 2022 Qatar World Cup in peak conditions. As he has shown recently in the Copa América, he knows that by dazzling for Barça he will be able to carry his form onto the international stage. In a new gesture of commitment to the club and devotion to its fanbase, Messi will continue to amaze the club's members and followers all around the world.