Messi meets his new PSG teammates at first Paris training session
After a rapturous reception from PSG fans a day earlier, Argentine football superstar Lionel Messi got to meet some of his new teammates for the first time at Paris Saint-Germain's Camp des Loges training facility on Thursday.
Much has been made of Messi joining a team that includes Brazil's Neymar and France striker Kylian Mbappé in what will be a fearsome offensive line for PSG in their quest to win their first Champions League since 1993.
World Cup winner Mbappé was one of the first to extend his welcome to Messi after his official arrival, with the 22-year-old posting his best wishes to the newcomer on social media.
"Welcome to Paris, Leo," Mbappé wrote, alongside photos of the pair hugging.
Welcome to Paris, Léo. 🔴🔵 pic.twitter.com/ZDO11HSVOw— Kylian Mbappé (@KMbappe) August 12, 2021
Mbappé has been linked with a move to Real Madrid with only a year left of his PSG contract.
Messi, 34, has been on downtime since winning the Copa America with Argentina in July, and started his first PSG session with some simple physical exercises.
"I've been out of action for around [a] month and I need to get physically ready. I hope to be ready as soon as possible, because I can't wait to play," Messi said at his unveiling at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday.
But he is unlikely to make his debut for PSG this weekend when Mauricio Pochettino's team play Strasbourg in Ligue 1.
"I can't tell you when my first game will be but I can tell you I'm dying to get started," he said. "I want it to be soon."
📸⚽️#PSGxMESSI pic.twitter.com/swN5jbGj28— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_inside) August 12, 2021
Messi only arrived in the French capital on Tuesday before penning a two-year contract with the option of a third season.
The club also revealed Thursday it had paid Messi a signing bonus in PSG's own virtual currency, $PSG Fan Tokens, which originally sold at €2 each and are currently trading at over €30 each.
"The coins are there to create a link between the fans and the club, and it's the first time we have used them in this way," PSG said in a statement.
Our new 💎— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) August 12, 2021
This is just the beginning ...
❤️💙 #PSGxMESSI pic.twitter.com/39cppjOeYI
Confirming an earlier Reuters report, PSG said the tokens were included in Messi's "welcome package", which media reports have estimated at €25-30 million ($29-35 million). The club did not disclose the proportion of tokens in the pay package, but said the amount was "significant".
Fan tokens are a type of cryptocurrency that allow holders to vote on mostly minor decisions related to their clubs. Among clubs to launch tokens this year are English Premier League champions Manchester City and Italy's AC Milan. Messi's former club Barcelona launched one last year.
The queue for a #Messi shirt outside #PSG's club shop on the Champs-Elysees 20 minutes before it was due to open this morning 😳#PSGpic.twitter.com/iWKaOfbtVT— Robin Bairner (@RBairner) August 11, 2021
PSG quickly emerged as the favourites to sign Messi following the shock of his departure from Barcelona last week and he arrives eyeing a fifth Champions League, with the most recent of his four victories with his old club coming in 2015.
Messi will wear the No. 30 jersey at PSG, with fans already lining up outside the club's different shops in the capital to buy the shirt that sports his name and number on the back.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)
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