Lionel Messi and his wife Antonella flew to Paris to complete his free transfer from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain this Tuesday. Rumours had emerged overnight that Barcelona had made a last-ditch offer to retain their talisman, but they were unsuccessful. He’s now, to the shock of most of the world, a PSG player.
“I’m looking forward to starting a new chapter in my career in Paris,” were Messi’s first words after officially joining PSG. “The club and its vision are a perfect match for my ambitions. I’m determined to build something great for the club and the fans. I can’t wait to step onto the pitch at the Parc des Princes.”
…and here’s Leo Messi at Parc des Princes. New Paris Saint-Germain player, number 3️⃣0️⃣. #Messi
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) August 10, 2021
Messi will sign a two-year contract according to Fabrizio Romano, with the option to extend until June 2024. He’ll be paid €35m net per season including add-ons. Messi was welcomed like royalty when he arrived in the French capital, greeting a delighted multitude who gathered for him as if he was a king.
Whizzing around the city in an ample motorcade and with a heavy police presence, one observer tweeted that the Argentine was “moving around Paris like he’s the president of the United States”. It was the same story outside his hotel in the centre of the city, with the streets thronged with fans in full voice hoping to catch a glimpse of their new signing.
Jorge Messi very bitter in his limited public statements today.
"Ask the club" he replied when asked about why Messi was leaving. pic.twitter.com/n5D3HbHoQm
— total Barça (@totalBarca) August 10, 2021
He, Antonella and their three children also waved at fans from their balcony once they’d checked into the Hotel Monceau. They’re expected to stay there until they find a house in the city. He then made his way over to his new theatre, the Parc des Princes, to change into his gear and take to the field; PSG released the official unveiling video, a dramatic number, at around 21:15 GMT. He’ll wear the number 30, the number he wore first at Barcelona, and allow Neymar to keep his number ten.
Back in Catalonia, the post-Messi era has already begun. The Blaugrana beat Juventus 3-0 at the weekend in the Joan Gamper Trophy at the Estadi Johan Cruyff, and begin their La Liga campaign against Real Sociedad this weekend. On Tuesday, images showing the club removing last season’s images – including Messi – from Camp Nou served as powerful symbolism. Jorge Messi, Lionel’s father and agent, was succinct when asked why his son was leaving Barcelona. “Ask the club,” he said.