PARIS: Lionel Messi finalized agreement on his Paris Saint-Germain contract and arrived in the French capital on Tuesday to complete the move that confirms the end of a career-long association with Barcelona.
Dozens of PSG fans gathered at Le Bourget Airport in Paris to welcome Messi, who was wearing a T-shirt featuring “Ici c’est Paris” — “Here is Paris.”
The 34-year-old Argentina star has agreed a two-year deal with the option for a further season, a person with knowledge of the negotiations told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the contract ahead of it being signed and the official announcement. Messi is set to earn around 35 million euros ($41 million) net annually, the person said.
Messi’s father and agent, Jorge, also confirmed his son was moving to PSG in a brief exchange with reporters at Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat Airport on Tuesday.
At the same airport, Messi was later seen arriving with his wife and three children before boarding a private jet.
“With it all, toward a new adventure. The five together,” Antonela Roccuzzo said on Instagram alongside a photo with her husband on the plane.
PSG supporters have seen their club transformed over the last decade since the influx of Qatari sovereign wealth investment linked to the emir. Once Messi’s Barcelona contract expired — and the Catalan club was unable to afford to keep him — PSG was one of the few clubs that could finance a deal to sign the six-time world player of the year.
Messi’s arrival gives PSG formidable attacking options as he links up with France World Cup winner Kylian Mbappe and Brazil forward Neymar.
“Back together,” Neymar posted on Instagram over a video of them hugging, playing for Barcelona.
While PSG had to pay 222 million euros (then $261 million) to sign Neymar from Barcelona in 2017, there was no transfer fee for Messi.
Messi became the most desired free agent in soccer history after his attempts to stay at Barcelona were rejected last week by the Spanish league because the salary would not comply with financial regulations, with the Catalan club burdened by debts of more than 1.2 billion euros ($1.4 billion).
Be Part of Quality Journalism
Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.