BY JUSTIN FERGUSON
FC Barcelona continued its contract extension crusade on Thursday, extending the club’s contract with Lionel Messi for two more years.
Messi, who is now tied down to the Catalans until June 2018, joins teammates Xavi and Carlos Puyol in extending contracts with their lifelong club. His old contract had him tied to the club until June 2016, the new contract end dates for Xavi and Puyol.
Barcelona announced in December that it had come to terms on new contracts for the famous trio, but the extensions have only become official in the last month.
“I can’t imagine what Messi will be like in 2018, but it’s great news for Barça fans that he’s staying,” Barcelona defender Jordi Alba said. “He is the best player in the world and as long as nothing happens, he’ll be the best ever. We’ll try to make him feel as comfortable here as we can.”
Here are some more stories to get you through your Thursday:
HODGSON WANTS LAMPARD TO STAY IN EUROPE, CHELSEA EXTENSION RUMORED
After scoring the game-winning goal against Brazil on Wednesday, Frank Lampard was warned by England manager Roy Hodgson that a move to MLS’s Los Angeles Galaxy could put his international career in jeopardy.
The 34-year-old midfielder, who has been rumored to be Galaxy coach Bruce Arena’s replacement for David Beckham, will leave long-time club Chelsea when his contract expires at the end of the Premier League season.
“If he goes further afield and follows (David Beckham), it complicates matters but it doesn’t mean your career is over with England,” Hodgson said. “But the further afield you go, the more problematic it gets for the media and the England manager to follow you.
“I know he will have a lot of offers if Chelsea do decide they’re prepared to let him go. I’m rather hoping we’ll still see him if not in England, then Europe, which will make my task easier.”
On Thursday, reports emerged that Chelsea will offer Lampard a contract extension. Lampard has scored in his last three matches for club and country, prompting many Blues fans to question the club’s earlier decision to not re-sign the popular midfielder.
BALOTELLI AND BERLUSCONI “MAKE PEACE”
AC Milan released a photo on its website Thursday showing new striker Mario Balotelli and vice-president Paolo Berlusconi “making peace” before training.
“Today the vice-president of AC Milan, Paolo Berlusconi, had a brief conversation with Mario Balotelli while helping out at Milanello (Milan’s training ground),” the caption below the photo reads in English.
Berlusconi, the younger brother of club owner Silvio, was videotaped calling Balotelli a racial slur while speaking at a political meeting just outside of Milan. His comments came after the club gained worldwide attention for Kevin Prince-Boateng’s brave stance he took against racist chants last month.
Chelsea’s Victor Moses is listed as doubtful for Nigeria’s AFCON final against Burkina Faso on Sunday. (REPORT)
David Beckham told reporters that he wants to do for PSG what former teammates Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes have done for Manchester United. (REPORT)
West Ham co-owner David Gold says that the majority of Premier League clubs have voted and overwhelmingly supported the introduction of new spending controls. (REPORT)
FIFA has launched a new website for whistleblowers to report allegations of match-fixing and other forms of corruption. (REPORT)
What do you think of these reports? Do you see Barcelona re-signing any more stars in the near future? What do you think of Hodgson’s comments on Lampard’s future? Where do you think Lampard will be after this season? What are your thoughts on the Balotelli and Berlusconi situation?
Share your comments below.