Messi officially joined Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday after his efforts to stay with Barcelona fell through and it appears the French club have been courting him for some time
Lionel Messi’s move to Paris Saint-Germain has now been made official and it seems it has been a long time coming for the French club.
Messi was officially announced by PSG on Tuesday evening, with the 34-year-old signing a two-year contract with the option of a further one.
The Argentina international had initially looked set to prolong his 21-year association with Barcelona, only for the club’s perilous financial situation to prevent him from doing so.
Messi had agreed to reduce his wages by 50 per cent, but La Liga’s salary cap ultimately forced him to make his emotional goodbyes in a press conference on Sunday.
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PSG president club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi and sporting director Leonardo moved quickly to snap him up, offering Messi a £21million signing-on fee and yearly net salary of the same amount.
From the outside, it may have looked like a purely opportunistic move from PSG, who had already signed fellow free agents Gini Wijnaldum, Sergio Ramos and Gianluigi Donnarumma this summer.
But former Paris Saint-Germain midfielder and Argentina international Javier Pastore has lifted the lid on why that was far from the case.
“I was very confident that he would end up at PSG,” Pastore told RMC Sport .
“The club’s ambition is always to keep growing and improving and to have the best players in the world.
“He has arrived. Now, at PSG, you have three of the five best players in the world there together. It’ll be fantastic to watch them – for France, for Ligue 1 and for everyone.
“When we were on Argentina duty, with [Angel] Di María, president Nasser would always tell us to speak to him about how great Paris was, how it’s a beautiful city and a good team. But it was for a laugh.
“He’s really calm and very nice. I met him when he was young, at 23. He’s changed a lot. Before, he wouldn’t even speak in the dressing room.
“But with time he realised that he had an important role to play in the national team and had to talk to the other players. He gained in confidence, he’s more of a leader than before.”
Pastore left PSG in 2018 for Roma, where he remains to this day, but there is still a strong Argentine connection at the club.
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PSG manager and former Argentina defender Mauricio Pochettino reached out to Messi personally amid the collapse of his stay at Barcelona, while Messi also knows Di Maria well from the national side.
Indeed, it was Di Maria who scored the winning goal in Argentina’s 1-0 victory over Brazil in the final of the Copa America back on July 10 to provide Messi with one of the crowning achievements of his career.
While Messi lifted a whopping 35 trophies during his time with Barcelona and won a gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the Copa America had continued to elude him until this year.
He had three runners-up medals until Di Maria scored the vital goal to help complete his team-mate’s huge collection.
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