Messi Earns Third Consecutive Golden Boot Award…

Lionel Messi is getting the boot yet again…

The 26-year-old Argentine soccer star, currently sidelined by persistent thigh muscle issues, has picked up his third European Golden Boot award.

Lionel Messi

Messi, who hopes to return for Barcelona’s first game of 2014, was presented with the award by former Blaugrana striker — and 1990 Golden Boot winner — Hristo Stoichkov at a ceremony in central Barcelona on Wednesday.

Asked by reporters at the event if he might be back to play at home on January 5 — Barca’s first game after the winter break — Messi said: “I hope so.

“The truth is I have not put a date on the return. If all goes well it will be that date, but we will see what happens. I will be back when it is supposed to happen.”

Messi, who will spend part of his recovery back at home in Argentina, said nobody wanted to rush things as the most important thing was to put an end to a frustrating last six months, during which he has suffered five similar thigh and hamstring problems.

“My objective is to return in good shape, to strengthen the body so that, God willing, I can play without injuries,” he said. “I am improving bit by bit — it does not hurt any more. I am starting to do things.”

Messi scored 46 goals in the 2012-13 season to take the European Golden Boot, which he also claimed in 2009-10, when he scored 34 goals, and in 2011-12, when he scored 50 goals.

He dedicated his latest personal trophy to teammates including Xavi Hernandez, Jordi Alba, Adriano, Gerard Pique, Cesc Fabregas, Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique and Jose Pinto, who were all present at the ceremony.

“It was a lot of goals, and I would not have scored them without my teammates,” he said. “Without them I would not have won this Golden Boot, nor the others. I appreciate them being here.”

Messi did not speak about the controversy surrounding the extension of this year’s Ballon d’Or voting, which some have suggested will favor Cristiano Ronaldo’s chances of winning the award.

Barca president Sandro Rosell, though, was on hand to push his club’s player’s chances.

“If people vote on what they have seen on the pitch this year, and do not put on political or media pressure, then Messi should win,” Rosell said in Mundo Deportivo. “I would vote first for Leo, second for Leo and third for Leo. Fourth, fifth and sixth would be Xavi, [Andres] Iniesta and [Sergio] Busquets.”

Neymar Signs Papers for His Transfer to FC Barcelona

It’s official… Neymar is headed to España…

The 21-year-old Brazilian striker made his move to Futbol Club Barcelona official on Monday, signing the papers for his transfer from Brazil’s Santos FC to this year’s Spanish champion.


Next on the agenda is a visit to the office of Barça club president Sandro Rosell, where Neymar will ink his five-year deal.

The club expects to present Neymar to the fans next week, though the exact day will depend on his commitments with the Brazilian national team.

Barcelona has yet to reveal how much the team paid for Neymar, but some media accounts have mentioned a transfer fee in the realm of 100 million euros ($129.3 million).

Neymar still had a year left on his contract with Santos, which last Friday accepted offers from both Barça and archrival Real Madrid and left it up to the striker to decide where he wanted to go.

The latest soccer phenom to come out of Brazil joined the Santos organization as a youngster and was promoted to the senior squad in 2009.

Neymar’s 138 goals in 230 matches have been a big part of why Santos has won six titles, including the Brazilian Cup and the Copa Libertadores, in the last four years.

At Barça, he will be part of a lineup led by Lionel Messi, widely regarded as the world’s best player.

Messi Extends His Contract with FC Barcelona Through 2018

Lionel Messi isn’t planning to leave Spain anytime soon…

The 25-year-old Argentine soccer star, who won his record-breaking fourth consecutive Ballon d’Or, signed a contract extension Thursday that will keep him with FC Barcelona until June 30, 2018, the team announced on its website.

Lionel Messi

Messi, whose contract wasn’t due to expire until June 2016, decided to add two more years to his contract with the La Liga powerhouse..

Barça has enjoyed one of the best runs of success in team history, including two UEFA Champions League titles and three Spanish league crowns, since Messi became a regular starter in the 2006-07 season.

Messi, meanwhile, has ridden his great chemistry with fellow FC Barcelona superstars like  Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez to award-winning results.

The deal had already been reached in mid-December but an official signing ceremony was held Thursday afternoon and attended by FC Barcelona’s president, Sandro Rosell.

Last month, Barça stars Xavi and defenseman Carles Puyol signed two-year and three-year contract extensions, respectively.

Messi enrolled in Barça’s youth academy at the age of 13 and made his debut as a member of the club’s first team three years later in a friendly match against Portuguese-league club Porto.

Xavi Signs Two-Year Contract Extension with FC Barcelona

Xavier Xavi Hernandez doesn’t have plans to change his team jersey anytime soon…

The 33-year-old Spanish midfielder has signed a contract extension that will keep him with Futbol Club Barcelona through June 2016, according to team officials.

Xavier Hernandez

Hernandez has been with Barça since the start of his professional career, appearing in a record of 659 official matches for the club.

Hernandez signed the two-year extension in the presence of club President Sandro Rosell, Vice President Josep Maria Bartomeu and Sporting Director Andoni Zubizarreta.

“This is a special day because it means I’ll spend more years at Barça, this is where I want to be,” said Hernandez, who has been capped 119 times for the Spanish national team. “My first choice was always to stay here. The club has made an effort and I am grateful.”

Hernandez declined to speculate about how long he’ll remain with FC Barcelona.

“I know how demanding it is but I’d like to stay many more years,” he said. “There are many players that are able to play in my position and they’ve shown that they can do it. Barça will continue to perform when I’m not around.”