Leagues

Barcelona defender Ronald Araujo has agreed a new contract until 2026 with his release clause rising to €1 billion ($1.16bn), the club have announced.

Araujo’s previous deal was due to expire in 2023 and ESPN revealed last month that both Manchester United and Liverpool were keen on signing the Uruguay international.

The money on the table from the Premier League sides was higher than Barca’s offer, but sources have told ESPN that the player’s priority was always to remain at Camp Nou.

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Araujo, 23, has been on the same terms at Barca since 2018, when he first joined the club’s B team from Boston River in his homeland in a deal worth an initial €2 million.

That made him one of the lowest-paid players in the first team going into the current campaign, with his agents keen for his salary to rise according to his new status at the club.

Under coach Xavi Hernandez he has emerged as a key player this season, making 39 appearances in all competitions and scoring four goals, including one in the 4-0 Clasico win over Real Madrid at the Bernabeu.

With Barca having to adhere to LaLiga’s strict financial rules due to their financial problems, they have played hardball during negotiations with Araujo’s camp.

However, sources told ESPN earlier this month there had finally been a breakthrough in talks, with Barca upping their initial offer and Araujo willing to meet the club in the middle despite the offers from English clubs.

In addition to securing Araujo on a long-term deal, ESPN have also previously revealed that Barca have an agreement in place to sign Andreas Christensen on a free transfer in the summer when his contract with Chelsea expires.

Araujo and Christensen will compete with Gerard Pique and Eric Garcia for a place in the middle of Barca’s defence next season, with the club open to offers for Clement Lenglet, Oscar Mingueza and Samuel Umtiti.

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