“[Lionel] Messi is moving around Paris like he’s the president of the United States”

Lionel Messi and his wife Antonella have flown 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. An announcement is imminent.

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. It’s a move that’s sent shockwaves through the European game, undoubtedly the story of the summer if not the story of the entire year.

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 soon-to-be-new signing.

He, Antonella and their three children also waved at the 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. He’ll wear the number 30, the number he wore first at Barcelona, and leave his old friend Neymar 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.

Tags Barcelona Lionel Messi