Barca raise Busquets buy-out clause in new contract

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Champions League - FC Barcelona Press Conference - Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper, Barcelona, Spain - March 13, 2018 Barcelona's Sergio Busquets during the press conference/File Photo

BARCELONA (Reuters) - La Liga champions Barcelona announced a new contract for midfield anchor Sergio Busquets on Thursday, slapping a prohibitive 500 million-euro (444 million pounds) release clause on the player to ward off interest from rival clubs.

“Barcelona and Sergio Busquets signed this morning an agreement to renew the player’s contract, which will end on June 30 2023,” Barca said in a statement.

“The player’s release clause rises from 200 million euros to 500 million.”

Barca have made a habit of inserting eye-catching release clauses in players’ contracts ever since Paris St Germain snapped up Neymar from the Catalans for 222 million euros in 2016.

All-time top scorer Lionel Messi penned a new contract last year with a 700 million-euro release clause, while defender Gerard Pique signed a deal with a 500-million-euro clause in January.

Busquets, 30, made his Barcelona debut in 2008 under Pep Guardiola, who was also his coach in the club’s reserve team.

His father Carles was a former team mate of Guardiola’s at Barca, where he spent nine years as a goalkeeper.

The midfielder has played 490 games for Barcelona, winning seven La Liga and three Champions League titles as well as six domestic Cups. He also lifted the 2010 World Cup and 2012 European Championship trophies with Spain.

($1 = 0.8559 euros)

Reporting by Richard Martin, editing by Ed Osmond