Football superstar Lionel Messi signs two-year deal with PSG
Argentine football star Lionel Messi arrived in Paris on Tuesday to sign a two-year deal with Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) after more than two decades at FC Barcelona.
PSG said in a statement that the 34-year-old Argentina star had signed a deal through 2023 with an option for a third season.
“I am excited to begin a new chapter of my career at Paris Saint-Germain," Messi said. "Everything about the club matches my football ambitions. I know how talented the squad and the coaching staff are here. I am determined to help build something special for the club and the fans, and I am looking forward to stepping out onto the pitch at the Parc des Princes.”
Wearing a T-shirt declaring “Ici c’est Paris” (This is Paris) as he arrived on Tuesday, Messi waved to the hundreds of fans gathered outside the terminal at Le Bourget airport chanting, "Messi! Messi!" to welcome him.
The Argentine icon has passed his medical test with PSG, L'Équipe reported on Tuesday evening. PSG will hold a press conference at 11am Paris time on Wednesday.
The record goalscorer for both Argentina and Barcelona is considered one of the greatest football players of all time.
Leo Messi with Paris Saint-Germain fans at the airport. Celebration time after official announcement. 🇫🇷🌟 #PSG #Messi pic.twitter.com/4Zu4V6wS7D— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) August 10, 2021
The six-time Ballon d'Or winner wept on Sunday as he bade farewell to his boyhood team after the club said it could no longer afford to keep him, blaming La Liga's salary cap rules, even though Messi had agreed to halve his salary.
“I don’t know what to say,” an emotional Messi told the press conference.
Messi won 35 trophies at Barcelona after joining the club at age 13. His trophy haul includes four Champions League and 10 La Liga titles.
>> Read more: Messi’s tearful departure encapsulates Barcelona’s sad decline
Messi's arrival is expected to make PSG the even more obvious favourites to reclaim the Ligue 1 title they lost last season to Lille.
The PSG front line is already formidable, with Messi's former Barca teammate Neymar and young France striker Kylian Mbappé seen as two of the best players on the planet.
But the arrival of Messi, Barca's all-time record goalscorer with 682 in 17 years in the first team, will boost the club's ambitions to win a first-ever Champions League.
PSG have already added veteran Spanish defender Sergio Ramos from Real Madrid and Italy's goalkeeper Donnarumma, one of the stars of Euro 2020, to their roster this summer.
They have also signed Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum, snatching the Dutchman from under the noses of Barcelona, and spent €60 million on Inter Milan right-back Achraf Hakimi, who scored on his PSG league debut at the weekend.
No salary details were offered on the PSG deal, but a person with knowledge of the negotiations earlier told AP that Messi is set to earn around €35 million ($41 million) net annually.
PSG can afford him. Since June 2011 they have been owned by Qatar Sports Investments, an investment vehicle backed by the Middle Eastern monarchy’s vast oil and gas wealth.
An added attraction in moving to Paris is that coach Mauricio Pochettino, like Messi, started his career at Newell's Old Boys in Rosario, Argentina.
Messi could make his debut as soon as Saturday when PSG play Strasbourg at home before a full house of nearly 48,000 gathered at the Parc des Princes stadium for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic struck.
>> Read more: French football fans await Messi in Paris amid rumours of transfer to PSG
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)
Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morningSubscribe