Spanish giants Barcelona have taken an important step to avoid the risk that star striker Lionel Messi almost left them this summer.

Barca have included a clause in the 17-year-old sensation’s new contract that also confirms his senior squad to prevent him from leaving for less than $ 468 million.

The protections in the four-year deal are similar to the agreement the club made with Messi, whose series of contract renewals since its debut in 2004 has increased its own publication fee to over $ 800 million.

Messi would almost certainly have left the club this summer if Barcelona hadn’t enforced their release clause.

Two days after winger Arturo Vidal joined Inter Milan, Fati will pick up the Chilean international’s number 22 jersey before a season in which he is likely to play a prominent role in Barcelona’s recovery of the league title after a bleak 2019-20 season by their standards.

One of the players he managed to oust, Luis Suarez, left Camp Nou emotionally yesterday as one of the changes new coach Ronald Koeman is set to oversee in his attempt to restore the club as a top force in Europe.

Fati could replace Messi’s successor should his progress continue at the phenomenal pace he showed in his debut campaign as the Spanish prospect dropped records in one of the few bright spots of a season without a trophy.

Those accomplishments included becoming the second youngest player in the club’s history to make his debut as a 16-year-old, and a week later the youngest ever goalscorer.

The Blaugrana already had the clause in their youth team deal but have now increased the number a club would have to pay for them by $ 269 million.

Their urgency will have been accelerated by the 12 goals in 42 games he has already scored and his dazzling second appearance for Spain earlier this month, tormenting Ukraine as they become the youngest player on the national team in 95 years.

Previous owners of his new squad number included Frank de Boer – the successor to new Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman as Dutch coach – and Eric Abidal, Barca’s former football director, who clashed with Messi and other players before being sacked shortly after the beleaguered left became ex-boss Quique Setien last month.

Fati could be in the league opener this Sunday at home against Villarreal, where he scored Barça’s 9,000th goal in a 4-1 win in July.

Barcelona hope Fati will mirror Messi by showing off a one-club man. Born in Guinea-Bissau, Wideman moved to Spain at the age of six and joined the club’s “La Masia” youth academy at the age of ten.

He was the youngest player to represent Barcelona in the Champions League more than a month before his 17th birthday and is the youngest goalscorer in the history of the competition after winning 2-1 at Inter in December.

Posing with his shirt on at the club’s headquarters, Fati stated, “It is a dream come true for every child at ‘La Masia’ from the day you arrive here.

“I am very happy and so are my family. I am very excited. I want to improve every day and continue to learn from my teammates.

“Every season is a challenge here in Barcelona. I’m looking forward to everything.”

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