The 18-year-old has drawn praise from Diego Maradona for helping Argentina to Saturday's FIFA World Youth Championship final, opening the scoring in last night's 2-1 semi-final win against holders Brazil. He made his debut for Barcelona last October and in May became the club's youngest-ever scorer when finding the net against Albacete Balompié aged 17 years, ten months and seven days.
"Messi has opted for Barcelona and we have a lot of confidence in this player," sports director Aitor 'Txiki' Beguiristain told the Barça website. "We are convinced his participation in the first team will be very important from now on. He is a very quick player, with a lot of confidence on the pitch, and with extraordinary technical ability."
Cameroon striker Samuel Eto'o is expected to make official his improved contract today, joining midfielders Deco and Xavi Hernández and young right-back Damian Abella 'Damiá' in agreeing extensions.