Carles Aleñá Signs Contract Extension The La Masia graduate's new deal could last five seasons.

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Barcelona has signed one of La Masia’s best graduates to a contract extension. No, Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta still haven’t put pen to paper on new deals, but in the meantime culés can take solace in the fact that Barça has locked up midfield gem Carles Aleñá for the foreseeable future, and this time they have the pictures to prove it!

Aleñá has agreed to a three-year contract extension that has a club option for two additional years if he is promoted to the first team. Perhaps more importantly than securing him for up to five more seasons, Barcelona has upped his release clause to €75 million, which should be more than sufficient until he has developed enough to command another renewal and a bump up in his buyout clause valuation.

It is almost a guarantee that this extension will amount to a five-year deal, perhaps as soon as next season, because Aleñá is on the fast track to the first team even though he is only 19. He probably could have been promoted this season had Barça decided offload Rafinha and Andre Gomes, but while Ernesto Valverde sorts out his logjam in midfield, Aleñá is getting valuable game time with Barça B in the Segunda.

Yet I am sure some culés would rather see Aleñá getting spot chances for the first team as soon as possible after he tantalized everyone during the preseason. He was magnificent against Juventus and played well against Real Madrid on the US tour, mainly because he looked so at home among the first team. His instincts are Barça bred and he oozes with the potential to be the Blaugrana’s next great creative force in midfield.

I am sure we will get a couple of looks Aleñá this season during the early rounds of the Copa del Rey, and perhaps in the odd Champions League group stage match if Barcelona has clinched a spot in the knockout rounds by December. For now, Aleñá will lead the charge to keep the B team in the Segunda and further prepare himself for the full-time jump to the Nou Camp next season.

On a final note, Aleñá’s extension coincides with an oddly timed revelation in the Catalan press regarding Barcelona’s heavy interest in Marseille midfielder Maxime Lopez. Lopez’s name came up a couple of times during the summer transfer window, and now Mundo Deportivo claims the club is lining him up as a signing for next summer.

The 19-year-old Lopez has been compared to Xavi and his developmental timeline would likely mirror Aleñá’s. Barcelona obviously hasn’t signed Lopez yet, but if the report that the player is also interested in the move is true, perhaps Barça’s board envisions a combination of Aleñá and Lopez running Barcelona’s midfield in the not-so-distant future.

Mark Travis is a 23-year old sportswriter who recently graduated from Oklahoma State University with a Bachelor of Science in Sports Media. He started his own website, But The Game Is On, in 2008 as an outlet for his praise of Michael Crabtree and has since been credentialed by major organizations like the NBA, NFL, MLB, Nike and Team USA Basketball. He also covered the 2013 and 2014 NBA Finals for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.