Football superstar Lionel Messi and Nasser Al-Khelaifi, Paris Saint-Germain’s Qatari president, have spoken of their shared plans for the club for the first time after the new number 30 completed his move to the French giants.
Ligue 1 juggernauts PSG produced another melodramatic sequence to formally confirm one of the most surprising signings ever made, zooming around their Parc des Princes home before dipping down to find the striker on the center spot in a shirt that they are encouraging fans to buy in replica form.
The all-time great striker had been in tears as he confirmed his Barcelona departure little more than 48 hours beforehand, yet he spoke glowingly of his new club as he declared he was “excited” to begin “a new chapter” after arriving from Spain to be mobbed earlier in the day.
“Everything about the club matches my football ambitions,” proferred the man who had previously admitted to envisaging spending his foreseeable future in Catalonia with his wife and three children.
“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 onto the pitch at the Parc des Princes.”
That squad includes former teammate Neymar, who remains the world’s most expensive footballer after leaving Barca for PSG for around $270 million in 2017, and the player at the center of the second-costliest transfer of all time, Kylian Mbappe.
Al-Khelaifi, the chair of club owners Qatar Sports Investments, clearly anticipates that formidable front three propelling PSG to take a step beyond the Champions League final they reached in 2020.
Barcelona director who resigned over Messi departure fires shots at Joan Laporta: “I don’t understand how while Barcelona fans were crying over Leo’s departure, Laporta went for a seafood dinner with the president of Real Madrid.”
— Richard Martin (@Rich9908) August 9, 2021
“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,” said the figurehead with the dual role of chief executive.
“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.”
PSG boss and Messi’s countryman, Mauricio Pochettino, was among the luminaries to greet the Copa America champion on his first night in the city after agreeing a two-year deal with the option of a third.
“The addition of Leo to our world-class squad continues a very strategic and successful transfer window for the club,” suggested Al-Khelaifi, alluding to the previous arrivals this summer of Netherlands midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum, Spain defender Sergio Ramos and Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma on free transfers, as well as Morocco right-back Achraf Hakimi for a fee of around $71 million from Inter Milan.
Lionel Messi wore the No.30 shirt in 2005 and won the European Golden Boy award.Ronaldinho was named FIFA World Player of the Year and Samuel Eto’o came third. ? https://t.co/PKOfI6qfbr
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 10, 2021
“Led by our outstanding coach and his staff, I look forward to the team making history together for our fans all around the world.”
Earlier in the day, Brazil playboy Neymar – one of the few people in the world who can challenge Messi’s Instagram following of more than 246 million, still lagging well behind on a mere 157 million – expressed his pleasure at the imminent move by sharing a photo of the pair celebrating on the pitch.
Tagging in his potential strike partner, the former contender to Messi’s almost unbroken run of Ballon d’Or wins alongside Cristiano Ronaldo wrote that the duo would be “back together”.
The recriminations appear to have continued back at Barcelona over a move that has left fans furious, not least via Messi’s father and representative, Jorge, who suggested to reporters on his way through the airport for the outbound flight that questions around his son’s exit should be directed to the club.
Barcelona were forced to accept the loss of arguably their greatest ever player and their all-time top scorer because of Liga rules around spending, and one journalist said he had been told by an insider that Joan Laporta, the relatively new club president, had been in intriguing company while supporters voiced their anger.
According to the reporter, a Barcelona director said: “I don’t understand how, while Barcelona fans were crying over Leo’s departure, Laporta went for a seafood dinner with the president of Real Madrid.”
It was a busy, memorable day for the two key heavyweights of Spanish football. Earlier on, Real Madrid had delivered another shock by announcing legal action against bosses at La Liga and CVC over an agreement that is set to see the private equity firm buy in to the league.
Their arch-rivals have also said they are unimpressed by the proposals, describing the duration of the agreement as “inappropriate” in their own statement last week.
“The terms of the contract that La Liga is describing condemn Barcelona’s future with regard to broadcasting rights,” it added.
“Barcelona wishes to express its surprise at an agreement driven by La Liga in which the teams’ opinions, including those of FC Barcelona, have not been taken into account.
“There has not even been a presentation of options offered by other competitors in order to evaluate the pros and cons in a post-pandemic situation in which there are still many questions that are left unanswered.”
Figures released in April showed that Barcelona have net debts of around $572 million, while Madrid’s are around $415 million.
Both signed up to the lucrative, hugely controversial European Super League, which is partly the brainchild of Madrid president Florentino Perez, before the idea was shelved amid withdrawals from other clubs after high-profile fan protests and outrage.
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