Lionel Messi officially has a new team, joining French power Paris Saint-Germain following 21 years spent with Barcelona. Messi signed a two-year contract with PSG with the option of an extra year, and he will reportedly earn $41 million annually.Messi, 34, will wear the number 30, the number he had when he began his professional career at Barca, and is set to be unveiled by PSG at a press conference they have called for 11:00 am (0900 GMT) Wednesday.
Messi, who was a free agent after his shock departure from boyhood club Barcelona last week, landed at Le Bourget airport to the north of Paris on Tuesday afternoon.There he was greeted by hundreds of PSG supporters who had gathered hoping to catch a glimpse of their new signing.Those fans also gathered outside the club’s Parc des Princes home and near a plush hotel in the city where Messi along with wife Antonella and their three children are expected to be staying.Messi waved to crowds while sporting a Paris t-shirt on his arrival at the airport before being taken for his medical.
Barcelona sent shockwaves across the soccer world when it announced five days prior that it couldn’t afford to re-sign the 34-year-old, and PSG moved quickly to secure the services of the six-time FIFA Player of the Year.Messi joins close friend and former Barcelona teammate, Neymar, as well as rising star Kylian Mbappe at PSG, along with a host of other big names assembled by the deep-pocketed PSG ownership group. The goal is clear: Help PSG win a UEFA Champions League for the first time in club history.
Messi: “Impatient to start”
“I am impatient to start a new chapter of my career in Paris”, Messi told the PSG website . “The club and its vision are in perfect harmony with my ambitions. I know how talented the players and staff are here. I am determined to build, alongside them, something great for the club and for the fans. I can’t wait to set foot on the Parc des Princes pitch.”
“I am delighted that Lionel Messi has chosen to join Paris Saint-Germain and we are proud to welcome him to Paris, with his family,” said Nasser Al-Khelaifi, the club president.
“He did not hide his desire to continue to evolve at the highest level and to win trophies. The ambition of the club is of course identical. The addition of Leo to our world-class team confirms the relevance and success of our recruitment. Together with our great coach and his staff, I look forward to seeing our team make history for all of our supporters around the world.”
Messi’s father Jorge, who is also his agent, had earlier confirmed the inevitable as he arrived at Barcelona’s El Prat airport to board a flight to France.Asked by reporters if his son would sign for the French club, he replied: “Yes”.
PSG’s move for Messi had been an open secret for days, although reports in Spain on Monday night talked of a “final offer” by Barcelona to try to keep the player.Instead, the six-time Ballon d’Or winner will join a PSG attack already featuring Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.Qatar-backed PSG see Messi as the missing piece in their jigsaw as they chase the Champions League, the trophy they want more than anything else.”Back together,” Neymar, who played with Messi at Barcelona before moving to PSG in 2017, posted on Twitter.
Messi left Barcelona as the club’s record scorer with 672 goals, having also helped them to seven Copa del Rey titles and three Club World Cups during his 17-year career at the Catalan club.
Reason for leaving Barcelona
Messi’s next move has been a topic of heated debate ever since he handed in a transfer request at Camp Nou at the end of the 2019-20 campaign, with Manchester City, Inter Milan and MLS club Inter Miami all reportedly interested in prying him away from the Spanish club.Messi reluctantly stayed for an extra season at Barcelona, refusing to take the club to court to get out of the contract, and he helped Barcelona win one final title, the Copa del Rey. When his contract expired on June 30, it made him a free agent and eventually led to the end of his 21-year career in Catalunya.
The Argentina international’s vast experience and insatiable hunger for major silverware could prove invaluable for PSG as it bids for success on both domestic and European fronts in 2021-22.Head coach Mauricio Pochettino will be expected to wrestle the Ligue 1 title back from Lille and take the club all the way in Europe, with Messi set to complete a mouth-watering front three alongside Neymar and World Cup winner Mbappe.