Mapi León extends contract at Barcelona

Mapi Leon of FC Barcelona poses for a photo whilst holding a shirt displaying 'Maria Leon 2026' following the extension of her contract
Mapi Leon of FC Barcelona poses for a photo whilst holding a shirt displaying 'Maria Leon 2026' following the extension of her contract (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

Ballon d’Or nominee María León has announced that she has signed a new two-year contract with the Catalan club, keeping her in the Blaugrana until at least 2026. 

The news was met with jubilation at the Estadi Johan Cruyff, where Barcelona triumphed 7-0 over FC Rosengård in the Champions League group stage. 

The first choice centre-back underwent surgery last week for a meniscus tear in her right knee. Though the surgery is thought to have been successful, León will likely be sidelined for the remainder of the season. 

Culers look to the future

The extension comes at a critical time for Barcelona. The contracts of Alexia Putellas, Mariona Caldenty, Sandra Paños, Asisat Oshoala, Marta Torrejón and Lucy Bronze all expire this summer. 

With the recent announcement that coach Jonatan Giráldez will not renew his contract, the club is under pressure to lock in key players to create continuity. It is unconfirmed how many of Giráldez’s coaching staff will continue in his absence. 

Teammate Salma Paralluelo described León’s announcement as ‘a joy’, stating that she is a ‘fundamental piece’ of the Barca side. 

León’s renewal was one of the top priorities going into this season, alongside that of two-time Ballon d’Or winner Putellas. The 29-year-old, who is also currently sidelined with a knee injury, has reportedly received a two-year extension offer. There will be no further negotiations from the club, leaving the final decision with the Spain captain.

Barcelona’s fan favourite

Affectionately known as Mapi, León has been a staple in the Barcelona side since 2017 when she joined from Atlético Madrid. Widely recognized as the best centre-back in the world, the 28 year old has featured in 237 games for the club. 

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In her seven seasons with Barca, León has won four domestic leagues, four Copa de la Reina and two Champions Leagues. As an individual, Leon has featured in the Liga F Best XI (2016/17), UEFA Champions League Squad of the Season (2020/21), and the FIFA Women’s World 11 (2022). 

The Zaragoza-born player has 54 caps for Spain. However, she has not played for her country since the summer of 2022. León was one of the original Las 15 players who went on strike in protest of the mismanagement of the national team. Since then, she has consistently refused call-ups citing the need for significant changes within the organisation.

After walking onto the pitch on crutches, León personally announced her contract renewal.

Using the jovial charm which has made her a fan favourite, she joked: “The injury has made me think about a lot of things. So, I want to inform you that I won’t continue… that I’m leaving. But since Jonatan [Giráldez] leaves us as the end of the season, I’ve had a rethink, and I am the new coach. Just joking. I’ve renewed my contract until 2026, and I am improving my Catalan for you.”

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