The French club have confirmed that Lionel Messi has joined their ranks following his exit from Barcelona as Mauricio Pochettino’s squad’s embarrassment of riches grows
Paris Saint-Germain have confirmed the signing of Lionel Messi following his exit from Barcelona in what is one of the most notable transfers in the history of football.
The Argentine – who is widely regarded as the best player in the world – has joined the Ligue 1 giants as a free agent after his contract at the Camp Nou was unable to be renewed.
The 34-year-old is the latest superstar to arrive in the French capital in an incredibly busy summer for Mauricio Pochettino’s side – who are now regarded to have the best squad in club football.
Messi’s arrival follows on from that of former Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos, midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum from Liverpool, former Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma and wing-back Achraf Hakimi from Inter.
These additions join a squad that has reached a final and semi-final of the Champions League in the last two campaigns, spearheaded by star forwards Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.
All five arrivals this summer are likely to be involved in the strongest starting XI for Pochettino during the season but such is the nature of their squad – which currently has over 30 players on its books – heavy rotations are likely.
Goalkeeper Donnarumma – fresh from being crowned the best player of Euro 2020 – arrives with his stock sky-high as he has established himself as one of the best goalkeepers in world football.
He appears set to replace Keylor Navas as the number one in Paris in what many consider a hugely unfortunate moment for the Costa Rican, who has been among the side’s most consistent performers in his two seasons in France.
Navas has been instrumental in the club’s advances in Europe and a situation has now unfolded which is similar to his time at Real Madrid, where he was greatly admired and respected but was ultimately replaced by Thibaut Courtois.
It remains to be seen if Navas will remain at the club beyond this summer – although that is appearing likely – with Sergio Rico among the shot-stoppers also still on PSG’s books.
Hakimi is unquestionably the first-choice right-back at the club – a position filled last season by the on-loan Alessandro Florenzi.
Colin Dagba and Thilo Kehrer are both still on the club’s books but their roles have been largely as back-up players in recent seasons, and are unlikely to be involved heavily next season, barring injuries.
The other side of defence has less clarity; Dutch defender Mitchel Bakker made 40 appearances for the club last year but has since been allowed to join Bayer Leverkusen.
Senegalese defender Abdou Diallo – signed from Borussia Dortmund two years ago – is the most likely to be first-choice in the position, as Layvin Kurzawa also challenging for the position and Juan Bernat returning from an ACL ligament injury.
As with the situation at right-back, it seems probable that the club would sanction the exit of one of those three left-back options.
Ramos is almost certain to be involved when fit and partner the club captain Marquinhos in the heart of defence, meaning that vice-captain Presnel Kimpembe will likely have to be content with a squad rotation role, with Kehrer and Diallo also able to offer central defensive cover.
Wijnaldum joins an incredibly competitive race for one of the club’s three central midfield positions, with the deep-lying Marco Verratti likely to be the most regular player in the trio.
Holding midfielders Leandro Paredes and Idrissa Gueye are also options alongside former Manchester United midfielder Ander Herrera and the Portuguese player Danilo Pereira, but Angel Di Maria may drop back into an advanced midfield position with the arrival of Messi upfront.
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The club’s embarrassment of riches in midfield means that Julian Draxler and Pablo Sarabia – both influential at international level for Germany and Spain respectively – may either be moved on or remain content with squad roles, while the same is true for former Barcelona midfielder Rafinha.
The star-studded attack has Mbappe, Messi and Neymar – all three of whom would instantly command a place in any team in the world – but unlike other areas of their squad, the depth is not quite as impressive upfront.
Central striker Mauro Icardi is likely to feature prominently in Ligue 1 but Moise Kean has returned to Everton after bagging 17 goals last season, while Di Maria is also more accustomed to slotting into a wide attacking role.
There are also a number of promising young players who have been involved in first-team action this year, although it is likely several will be allowed to depart on loan.
18-year-old defender Timothée Pembélé played nine games last season and can play across the defence, midfielder Éric Junior Dina Ebimbe featured in the opening day Ligue 1 win at Troyes while Xavi Simons, Arnaud Kalimuendo, Edouard Michut, Bandiougou Fadiga and Ismaël Gharbi all appear to have bright futures.
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