Newsman: World’s best 34-year-old Argentina star Lionel Messi has finally signed for French club Paris Saint-Germain, bringing his long-term association with FC Barcelona to an end. Lionel Messi eagerly anticipated Paris Saint-Germain contract on Tuesday night to complete the move that confirms the end of a career-long association with Barcelona and sends PSG into a new era.
The French giants said in a statement that the Argentine superstar is signing a two-year deal “with an option of a third year.”
“I am excited to begin a new chapter of my career at Paris Saint-Germain. Everything about the club matches my football ambitions,” Messi said in the statement. “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.”
PSG Chairman and CEO Nasser Al-Khelaifi said in the statement, “I am delighted that Lionel Messi has chosen to join Paris Saint-Germain and we are proud to welcome him and his family to Paris. He has made no secret of his desire to continue competing at the very highest level and winning trophies, and naturally our ambition as a club is to do the same.
“The addition of Leo to our world class squad continues a very strategic and successful transfer window for the club. Led by our outstanding coach and his staff, I look forward to the team making history together for our fans all around the world.”
No salary details were given, but a person with knowledge of the negotiations earlier told The Associated Press that Messi is set to earn around 35 million euros ($41 million) net annually. The person said on condition of anonymity before the contract was signed. The previous contract, which expired at the end of June, was revealed by Spanish newspaper El Mundo to be worth $672 million and made him the highest paid athlete in sports history.
Messi’s Barcelona contract expired — and the Catalan club was unable to afford to keep him — PSG was one of the few clubs that could finance a deal to sign the six-time world player of the year.
Messi arrived in Paris earlier on Tuesday and the club teased his arrival on their social media channels with a short clip which briefly shows his Argentina shirt and the six Ballon d’Or trophies Messi has won throughout his career.
Neymar — who played with Messi at Barça and now stars for PSG — wrote on Instagram in a story: “Back Together.”
Barcelona last won the Champions League in 2015 when Messi and Neymar were playing together and PSG will hope the reunion of two of the world’s greatest players will help them secure Europe’s top tournament for the first time.
‘I gave my all’
Messi’s move to Paris brings his historic 20-plus-year spell at Barcelona to an end.
The Argentine, widely considered one of the best players of all-time, failed to sign a new contract with Barcelona.
Barcelona said the club’s dire financial situation and La Liga’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations meant it could not give Messi a new contract, despite both parties coming to an agreement.
Messi had expressed his desire to leave the Catalan club last year but decided to stay because he had no intention of disputing the club’s decision in court and dragging out a legal dispute.
In a tearful press conference on Sunday, the club’s all-time top goal scorer reflected on his career at Barcelona in which he won numerous major collective and individual awards, including four Champions League titles and 10 La Liga titles.
“I gave my all for this club for this shirt, from the first day I arrived to the last,” he said.
“And the truth is that I am more than satisfied. I would have liked to say goodbye in a different way. I never imagined my farewell this way.”
It is symbolic that Messi will wear the No. 30 jersey — the same number he wore in his first two seasons with Barcelona before switching to No. 19 and then the prized No. 10, which Neymar gets to keep at PSG.
Throngs of PSG fans gathered at Le Bourget Airport in Paris to welcome Messi, who was wearing a T-shirt featuring “Ici c’est Paris” — “This is Paris.”
Police had to push back to stop metal barriers from toppling over at the airport as fans surged forward to get a better view. He then traveled into Paris with a police escort that included several officers on motorbikes and clad in black at the back of it.
As disbelief at landing one of soccer’s all-time greats turned to sheer enthusiasm, many gathered for a glimpse of Messi at the stadium. They got their wish as the smiling superstar briefly waved to them before he underwent a medical check.
Earlier, Messi’s father and agent, Jorge, had also confirmed his son was moving to PSG in a brief exchange with reporters at Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat Airport before he took his flight in the early afternoon.
Messi arrived with his wife and three children and boarded a private jet.
“With it all, toward a new adventure. The five together,” Antonela Roccuzzo said on Instagram alongside a photo with her husband on the plane.
“Back together,” Neymar posted on Instagram over a video of them hugging, playing for Barcelona.
While PSG had to pay 222 million euros (then $261 million) to sign Neymar from Barcelona in 2017, there was no transfer fee for Messi.
Messi became the most desired free agent in soccer history after his attempts to stay at Barcelona were rejected last week by the Spanish league because the salary would not comply with financial regulations, with the Catalan club burdened by debts of more than 1.2 billion euros ($1.4 billion).
PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino quickly made contact with his fellow Argentine after Barcelona announced last Thursday that Messi would be leaving the club he joined as a 13-year-old.
Messi won every major honor with Barcelona and was granted a tearful exit news conference on Sunday to signal the end of an era. Only Cristiano Ronaldo in the current era challenges Messi’s status as an all-time great.