Lionel Messi agrees to PSG move
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner travelled to Paris on Tuesday afternoon to seal his move to the French club on a deal worth £25m per year after tax, plus bonuses.
Messi had two other options after leaving Barcelona last week but has opted to move to PSG, who will have the option of extending his stay in the French capital by a third year.
The 34-year-old record goalscorer for both Argentina and Barcelona, is one of the greatest players of all time.
He won 35 trophies at Barcelona after joining the club aged 13. His trophy haul includes four Champions League and 10 La Liga titles.
Messi’s arrival is expected to make PSG even more obvious favourites to reclaim a French title they missed out on last season to Lille.
The PSG frontline 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.
This summer PSG have already added veteran Spanish defender Sergio Ramos from Real Madrid and Italy’s Donnarumma, the star of Euro 2020.
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.
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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 be unveiled to supporters on Saturday, when PSG play at home to Strasbourg and a full house of nearly 48,000 will be allowed into the Parc des Princes for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic struck 18 months ago.
However, the club announced on Thursday that “financial and structural obstacles” meant the deal could not be completed, meaning Messi left as a free agent.
The 34-year-old said he wanted to stay at Barcelona and “did everything” he could to remain at the club, including agreeing to a 50-per-cent wage cut.
However, Barcelona are hamstrung by La Liga’s rules on club spending and even halving Messi’s pay was not enough to ensure he remained at the Nou Camp.
Messi is now set to join PSG, with their potential to compete for major trophies – including the Champions League – understood to be a key factor in his decision to move to France.
Messi is also believed to be keen to reunite with Neymar, with whom he won two La Liga titles, three Copa del Reys and the Champions League during their time together at Barcelona.
Asked about a move to PSG at his farewell press conference last weekend, Messi said: “That is one possibility, to reach those heights.
“I had a lot of calls, a lot of interested clubs. At the moment, nothing is closed, but we are talking about a lot of things.”