PSG brace for Messi’s arrival as Barcelona mourn
Paris (AFP) – Lionel Messi is expected to arrive in the French capital on Monday, attracted by Paris Saint-Germain’s unlimited funds, after saying his tearful farewell to Barcelona after 21 years.
The 34-year-old, seen by the Qatari owners of the French giants as the vital missing piece in their frustrating Champions League puzzle, has already had fans guessing.
Sunday evening, dozens of die-hard PSG gathered at the gates of Le Bourget airport, north of the capital, in the hope of seeing their new “galactic”.
Their wait was in vain although the French media claimed that it was “when” and not “if” Messi arrives.
“The news is expected Monday, even Tuesday. This is the most likely scenario, “Le Parisien said on Monday morning.
“It seems to be only a matter of hours,” suggested the sports daily L’Equipe, which proclaimed “we are entering the most incredible days in the history of the French championship”.
Before signing the contract in Paris, Messi will first have to undergo a medical examination.
Stressing that no deal had been reached, Messi conceded at his tearful farewell press conference in Barcelona on Sunday that joining PSG was a “possibility”.
In fact, they’re the only club that can afford what should be a deal worth € 35million ($ 41million) a year for the 34-year-old Argentine.
“I gave everything for Barcelona from the first day I arrived until the last. I never imagined having to say goodbye, ”a tearful Messi said at the press conference.
“I still haven’t accepted the reality of leaving this club now – I love this club.”
On Monday morning, images of the tearful Argentine sprang from the pages of all Spanish sports dailies like Marca, AS and Sport.
A note of contention came from a group of Barcelona supporters, represented by Parisian lawyer Juan Branco, who on Monday announced his intention to file a complaint with the European Commission in connection with the financial fair play rules that Barcelona and the PSG must follow.
The group also intends to ask the French justice to suspend a possible transfer.
Messi, widely regarded as the most gifted player in football history, won 35 trophies for Barcelona after joining Barcelona at the age of 13, including four Champions Leagues and 10 league titles, while his 672 goals are a record for a club.
– ‘Great for Ligue 1’ –
Despite the offer to cut his salary in half to seal a new five-year deal that a € 1.2 billion-indebted club and the player had agreed to, the deal sank into restrictions strict wages of the Spanish league.
Some members of the French Ligue 1 have mixed feelings about the imminent arrival of Messi who will form a superstar attacking force alongside Kylian Mbappe and Neymar, who earns € 36million a year and is a former teammate from Argentina to Barcelona.
“It’s extraordinary for Ligue 1,” said Metz coach Frédéric Antonetti.
“But for a purist like me, Messi should have ended his career at Barcelona.”
This summer, PSG have already added veteran Spanish defender Sergio Ramos from Real Madrid, where he won four Champions League crowns, and Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.
Messi is a free agent. Ramos also arrived with a free transfer.
A move to the Parc des Princes would mean a reunion with his Argentinian international colleague Angel di Maria.
An added attraction is that coach Mauricio Pochettino, like Messi, started his career with Newell’s Old Boys in Rosario, Argentina.
Pochettino did not give anything on the arrival of Messi.
“There have been a lot of rumors. Lots of things are being said, ”he said as PSG strived for a 2-1 win over Troyes in their opening game of the new league season.
Jorge Sampaoli, Argentina’s coach of PSG’s bitter rivals in Marseille, has said Messi’s arrival can only be good news for French football.
“It would be great for Ligue 1, he’s the best player in the world,” said Sampaoli.
“French football has won a lot and grown a lot in recent seasons.
“Even if he goes to a club other than Marseille, it will be good. Everyone would be riveted. It will be an additional motivation for us to play against him.