Lionel Messi has pledged to “help build something special” at Paris Saint-Germain after completing his move and signing a two-year contract on Tuesday.
The 34-year-old who bade an emotional farewell to Barcelona after a trophy-laden 21 years at the club will be paraded in Paris on Wednesday with the Argentinian ready to start a new chapter in his remarkable football story. After signing a two-year deal with a option of another 12 months, Messi said: “I am excited to begin a new chapter of my career at Paris Saint-Germain. The club and its vision are in perfect harmony with my ambitions.
“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 on to the pitch at the Parc des Princes.”
Messi, who will wear the No 30 shirt in Paris, will earn a net salary of around €35m (£29.6m) with bonuses factored in. He flew in from Barcelona and was greeted by a PSG tweet that confirmed he was joining and welcomed a “new diamond in Paris”. Messi 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.
The PSG chairman and CEO Nasser Al-Khelaifi said: “I am delighted that Lionel Messi has chosen to join Paris Saint-Germain and we are proud to welcome him and his family to Paris. He has made no secret of his desire to continue competing at the very highest level and winning trophies and naturally our ambition as a club is to do the same.
“The addition of Leo to our world-class squad continues a very strategic and successful transfer window for the club. Led by our outstanding coach and his staff, I look forward to the team making history together for our fans all around the world.”
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, the signing 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.”