Lionel Messi touched down in France on Tuesday (Aug 10) to finalise his transfer to Paris Saint-Germain, after reaching a deal with the French club following his shock departure from Barcelona.
The Argentinian, 34, will undergo a medical examination before putting pen to paper in what will be one of the biggest transfer moves in history.
Football insider Fabrizio Romano confirmed the news earlier yesterday, tweeting that the forward, who over the weekend tearfully split with Barcelona after a 21-year career due to the Catalans’ inability to adhere to La Liga’s financial regulations, was on his way to the French capital.
He said: “Total agreement completed on a two-year contract. Option to extend until June 2024. Salary around €35 million (S$55.7 million) net per season, add-ons included. Messi has definitely accepted PSG contract proposal.”
His agent-father Jorge also told Spanish TV channel La Sexta yesterday that “yes, Leo’s gonna sign with Paris Saint-Germain”.
According to PSG, a press conference is set to take place at the Parc des Princes today.
New PSG goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, who was last month named Player of the Tournament after leading Italy to the Euro 2020 trophy, yesterday expressed his excitement at the prospect of playing alongside Messi this upcoming season.
“I am happy if he comes to Paris,” Donnarumma told Sky Italia. “He is the best player in the world, I am excited and happy at the thought of having him in the team.”
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner would be the biggest capture yet of an eye-catching transfer window that has seen the French Cup winners sign Donnarumma, Netherlands midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum and Spain defender Sergio Ramos on free transfers and land Morocco full-back Achraf Hakimi for €60 million.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side began their bid to reclaim the Ligue 1 title from Lille with a 2-1 win at Troyes last Saturday and barring any unforeseen hitches, Messi could be included in the match-day squad as PSG host Strasbourg on Saturday.
Messi, the record goalscorer and appearance-maker for both Argentina and Barcelona, is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time.
The forward wept during a press conference on Sunday as he bade farewell to his boyhood team, after Barca said it could no longer afford to keep him, blaming the Spanish league’s fair play rules.
But Barca’s loss will be PSG’s gain as they seek to win their first Champions League title, which is sorely desired by the club’s Qatari owners since the 2011 takeover.
As football’s second billion-dollar team after Manchester City, PSG have a star-studded squad and one of the most formidable front lines in football, with Messi’s former Barca teammate Neymar and France striker Kylian Mbappe.
The imminent arrival of the Argentina skipper will make Pochettino’s men the favourites in every competition they are entered in, including the Champions League – the group stage starts next month.
The arrival of Messi, who has 245 million followers on Instagram and is Barca’s most decorated player of all time, is also welcome news for Ligue 1, currently embroiled in a crisis over TV rights.
The French top flight is generally considered the weakest and has the lowest profile of the “Big Five” European leagues, but all eyes will be focused on the competition as Messi gets set for a new adventure away from the only club he has ever played for.