Lionel Messi, PSG Finalizing Deal In Paris: Report
By Jason Hall
August 10, 2021
Lionel Messi was spotted in Paris amid reports of finalizing a deal to join Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday (August 10).
ESPN FC shared a video of the six-time Ballon d'Or winner waving to fans wearing a shirt reading "Ici c'est Paris" shirt.
Additionally, PSG shared a video on its verified Twitter account which appears to hint at a major acquisition.
PSG forward Neymar, Messi's former teammate at FC Barcelona from 2013-17, also shared a black and white video featuring clips of himself and Messi hugging shown on a monitor with the caption "back together" and two heart emojis in PSG's red and blue colors.
Former FC Barcelona star and prized free agent forward Lionel Messi is reportedly finalizing a deal to join Paris Saint-Germain.
ESPN reports Messi traveled to Paris on Sunday (August 8) following an emotional farewell news conference in Barcelona to workout a deal with the French club long speculated to be a favorite to acquire him.
Sources with knowledge of the negotiations report Messi agreed to a two-year contract with PSG, which includes an option for extension for a third year.
ESPN reports the six-time Ballon d'Or winner is due to take a physical with the team on Tuesday (August 10) and a news conference was originally planned to be held later in the day, but has since been moved to Wednesday (August 11) as the club continues to work out logistics amid the major signing.
ESPN reports Messi took a private jet to Bourget airport in France and touched down just after 3:30n p.m. local time on Tuesday.
Messi's father, Jorge, who also serves as his agent, told reporters "Yes" when asked if his son planned to sign with PSG at Barcelona's El Prat airport and added "Find out at the club" when asked who was at fault for his son's split with FC Barcelona last week.
Sources told ESPN Messi's reported new deal is expected to pay him more than former Barcelona and current PSG star Neymar, who has publicly campaigned for his former teammate to re-join him in Paris and offered to give up his No. 10 shirt if a deal is reached, Soccer Laduma reports.
Last week, Paris Saint-Germain manager Mauricio Pochettino confirmed the club has made contact with Lionel Messi amid the forward's decision to leave FC Barcelona.
PSG sporting director Leonardo and chairman Nasser al Khelaifi are reported to be "heavily involved in the discussions" and have been in contact with Jorge Messi even prior to Thursday's announcement, according to sources.
Pochettino confirmed the reports during a news conference ahead of PSG's Ligue 1 season opener.
"Of course [signing Messi] is a possibility," Pochettino said via ESPN. "The club is working on it and if there is any information we will communicate it as soon as possible."
Sources with knowledge of the negotiations report Messi signing with PSG would also increase the likelihood of Kylian Mbappe -- who is set to become a free agent next summer -- agreeing to a long-term deal with the club.
Additionally, adding Messi would end PSG's reported interest in signing Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba, who is also set to become a free agent next summer, ESPN reports.
PSG has long been a favorite to land Messi since he initially acknowledged interest in leaving Barcelona last year.
Messi has also reportedly discussed the move with fellow Argentina teammates Angel Di Maria and Leandro Paredes, as well as Italian star Marco Verratti, all of whom play for PSG.
Last Thursday, FC Barcelona confirmed reports that Messi decided not to sign a long-term extension with the club in a news release on its official website.
"Despite FC Barcelona and Lionel Messi having reached an agreement and the clear intention of both parties to sign a new contract today, this cannot happen because of financial and structural obstacles (Spanish Liga regulations)," the statement read. "As a result of this situation, Messi shall not be staying on at FC Barcelona. Both parties deeply regret that the wishes of the player and the club will ultimately not be fulfilled.
"FC Barcelona wholeheartedly expresses its gratitude to the player for his contribution to the aggrandisement of the club and wishes him all the very best for the future in his personal and professional life."
Last month, ESPN reported Messi, 35, who spent the final four years of his youth career and entire senior career with the Catalan club, agreed to a five-year deal on Wednesday (July 14), just weeks after his previous contract expired.
Messi's previous contract, which was worth more than €500 million ($594m) during a four-year span, expired at midnight on June 30.
The forward was reportedly courted by Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City amid reports of interest in ending his 20-year relationship with Barcelona last summer.
The report came after Barcelona was defeated, 8-2, by Bayern Munich in the Champions League, as well as a tumultuous relationship with former club president Josep Maria Bartomeu, which included Messi calling Bartomeu a "liar" in a September 2020 interview with Goal after Barcelona blocked the forward's departure.
However, Barcelona's decision to bring back former club president Joan Laporta in March -- who had previously served the role from 2003-2010 -- is believed to have swayed the captain into returning for his 18th senior club season.
Messi was on holiday after leading the Argentina national team to its first Cope America championship since 1993 and the first of his international career when ESPN reported the contract extension last month.
Messi joined Barcelona's academy in 2000 and has appeared in a club record 778 games, surpassing former teammate Xavi Hernandez's previous record last season.
The Argentinian forward has a club record 672 career goals, leading Barcelona to 10 La Liga and four Champions League titles, while also winning a record six Ballon d'Or awards.