Lionel Messi will be presented as a Paris Saint-Germain player on Wednesday after arriving in France to sign a two-year contract on Tuesday. The deal includes an option to extend by a year and gives the forward a net salary of about €35m (£29.6m) with bonuses factored in.
Messi flew from Barcelona and was greeted by a PSG tweet that confirmed he was joining and welcomed a “new diamond in Paris”. The 34-year-old waved to crowds of celebrating fans from a window at Le Bourget airport, north of the capital. He had boarded the plane in one T-shirt and emerged at the window in another, with the club’s trademark “Ici c’est Paris” on the front.
Messi, his lawyers and his father, Jorge, had been in talks with PSG since Thursday, when the player’s plan to stay at Barcelona collapsed because of the club’s financial situation. Messi had agreed a five-year contract with Barcelona worth about €20m a season.
Jorge Messi had confirmed to the Spanish television station La Sexta at Barcelona airport that his son would sign for PSG on Tuesday and was asked whose fault it was that his son was leaving the Camp Nou. “Ask at the club,” he replied. A press conference and presentation is planned for 11am Paris time on Wednesday.
The move enables Messi to link up again with Neymar, a former Barcelona teammate who has been working to convince the Argentinian to join him in Paris, and gives PSG attacking options of Messi, Neymar, Kylian Mbappé and Ángel Di María.
On Tuesday Neymar posted “Back together” on Instagram above a montage of his and Messi’s best goals and assists from their time together at Barcelona. Messi wept on Sunday at a farewell Barcelona press conference at which he said he had wanted to stay at the club where he has spent his whole career. On Tuesday images of Messi on the Camp Nou facade were taken down.
For PSG, beaten into second place in Ligue 1 by Lille last season and knocked out of the Champions League in the semi-finals by Manchester City, confirmation that Messi has accepted their offer is a major coup.
Mauricio Pochettino, who has spoken to Messi as part of the process, has already had his squad bolstered by the signings of Gianluigi Donnarumma, Achraf Hakimi, Sergio Ramos and Georginio Wijnaldum. The goalkeeper Donnarumma told Sky Italia regarding Messi: “He is the best player in the world. I am excited and happy at the thought of having him in the team.” (With inputs from agencies)