Argentine football star Lionel Messi finally signed a two-year deal with French League club Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) after flying to Paris on Tuesday to finalise his transfer.
Crowds of PSG supporters had gathered at the airport and chanted out “Messi! Messi!” to welcome the player.
During his time at Barcelona, Messi won six Ballon d’Or titles in a sign of his status as one of the greatest of all-time. Messi became the most desired free agent last year after his Barcelona contract expired. He agreed to play for the Catalan club on pay cut but the Spanish league’s financial regulations ended his association with the club he joined as a 13-year-old.
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.
Saint-Germain of Ligue 1 with an option for a third year. Financial terms were not announced, but The New York Times reported Messi will earn $41 million per year.Messi had spent his entire pro career with Barcelona, but his contract expired and the two sides couldn’t agree on a new deal. His last contract was for four years and $674 million, and he was looking at a massive pay cut to return to the Spanish side.
“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 Tuesday in a 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.”Messi already is in Paris and will be formally introduced as part of the team Wednesday. Messi registered 25 goals and 21 assists in 33 matches (starts) for Barcelona in La Liga play in 2019-20, then had 30 goals and nine assists in 35 matches (33 starts) in 2020-21.
Messi is the latest big-name arrival at PSG on a free transfer this summer after coach Mauricio Pochettino’s side snapped up Spanish defender Sergio Ramos after he left Real Madrid. Dutch midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum also joined after running down his contract with Liverpool. Italy’s Euro 2020-winning goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma has also joined after his contract with AC Milan ran out, while Moroccan fullback Achraf Hakimi joined from Inter Milan for a reported 60 million euros ($70 million).
The arrival of Barcelona’s all-time record scorer with 682 goals will boost PSG’s ambitions to win the Champions League for the first time. Messi won four Champions League titles while at Barcelona, as well as 10 La Liga titles.
With Reuters inputs