…Sets winning UCL as priority
FRANCE was held to a standstill as thousands of PSG fans gathered outside the Parc des Princes to welcome Messi to the club.
Lionel Messi left Barcelona after 21 years at the club last week; the Spanish giants could not afford to finalise the five-year contract they had agreed with the 34-year-old. Although Messi slashed his salary by 50 per cent it was not enough to rescue Barca from retaining him. Messi joined PSG on a two-year deal and admitted Neymar and Mauricio Pochettino were influential in his decision.
Lionel Messi showed off his new shirt – Paris Saint-Germain’s No 30 – following his first news conference since joining the club
Lionel Messi has revealed he chose to join Paris Saint-Germain after leaving Barcelona as he believes they offer him the best chance of winning the Champions League for a fifth time. The six-time Ballon d’Or winner also admitted his former Barcelona team-mate Neymar helped to persuade him to move to PSG when it became clear his time at the Nou Camp was at an end.
Messi signed a two-year contract with PSG on Tuesday, just days after Barcelona announced he was leaving the club he joined 21 years ago.
Messi reflects on an ’emotional’ week but says he is excited about starting a ‘new life’ in Paris
But despite the upheaval, the forward says he is now focused on bringing success to the French capital – particularly in the Champions League, which has proved elusive so far.
When asked if PSG – who were runners-up in 2020 could make the final step, Messi said: “I think this team is already done and ready.
“There are some new transfers but they have been very close and they are ready.
“I just came here to help – I’ll give my best. My goal and my dream is to win this trophy again
“It’s not easy. Sometimes you can have the best team in the world and you don’t win the Champions League – this is football.
“Paris has been so close to a victory in the Champions League. In the best competition, the best teams are playing.
“It’s very difficult to win it. You need a very united squad. This dressing room is very united but you also need luck.
“It’s a very special competition and that’s why it’s so beautiful and so important – we all want to win this competition.”
“Barcelona is my home, I’ve been there since I was a kid,” said Messi. “I’ve lived so many things there – good and bad.
“I don’t know if we are going to face each other. It would be very nice to go back to Barcelona. I hope it will be with the fans.
“It would be very strange to play there with another shirt, but it can happen.”
PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi was delighted to present Messi as a new PSG player and promised the club were able to afford their new signing – unlike Barcelona.
PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi insists the club can afford to sign Messi within UEFA’s financial fair play regulations
Messi was set to sign a new five-year contract with the Spanish club this summer but they were unable to finalise the deal within La Liga’s financial limits.
It meant that Messi – whose offer to reduce his salary by 50 per cent was still not enough to keep him at the Nou Camp – became a free agent and allowed PSG to make their move.
Messi’s deal is worth £25m per year after tax – plus bonuses – and includes a £25m signing-on fee, while it also follows the summer arrivals of Gianluigi Donnarumma, Achraf Hakimi, Sergio Ramos and Georginio Wijnaldum at the Parc des Princes.
But Al-Khelaifi – who is also the chairman of the European Club Association – said: “We followed the financial fair play regulations since day one when we started, and until the end, we’re going to always fulfil the regulations.
Messi’s arrival provides the prospect of seeing him line-up alongside Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, although the France forward’s contract expires at the end of the season.
Al-Khelaifi says it’s a ‘fantastic moment’ for PSG as Messi is presented at his first news conference in Paris
However – despite reports linking him to Real Madrid – Al-Khelaifi says Mbappe has no excuse to leave PSG, insisting: “I think everybody knows the future of Kylian.