Argentine footballer Lionel Messi, who bid a tearful farewell to FC Barcelona on Sunday, said he was delighted to be signing for French club Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) on Wednesday and that he was already ‘dreaming’ of winning his fifth Champions League at his new club.
‘I have said my dream is to win another Champions League and I think I’m in the ideal place to have that chance and to do it,’ the 34-year-old star told reporters after signing a two-year contract with PSG.
‘That’s why I am here. It’s an ambitious club,’ Messi said. ‘You can see they’re ready to fight for everything.’ He also said he was ‘ready to work together with teammates so we can succeed’.
Messi claimed the last of his European titles with former side Barça in 2015, while the Qatari-owned Parisians are yet to clinch the continent’s elite club competition.
Messi, the six-time Ballon d’Or winner, had wept on Sunday when he told Barcelona fans that he was leaving his childhood club. ‘I’ll always be thankful to Barça and their fans,’ he said in Paris on Wednesday. ‘I went there as a boy, and we had some good and bad times.’
‘The Barça fans knew I’d join a good club, fighting for the Champions League, because they know me, I like to win, I’m a winner and I want to carry on doing that,’ he added.
PSG’s new superstar said that he did not know when he would be able to make his French league debut, given that he has not played since winning the Copa America with Argentina last month.
‘I’m coming back from holiday, I’ve been a month off the pitch,’ he said. ‘Hopefully debuting can be soon but I can’t give you a date. It’s up to the coaches.’
Messi will join former Barça team mate Neymar, who joined PSG in a record 222-million-euro deal in 2017. They will now line up together again, with Kylian Mbappé as the third member of a potent frontline.
‘To be able to play with the likes of Neymar and Mbappé is madness. They’ve made so many good signings, I’m really happy and can’t wait to get started,’ Messi said.
It was a surprise for many how PSG could afford to sign Messi within UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations. However, club chairman and CEO Nasser Al-Khelaifi insisted that the deal was well within their economic scope.
‘We are always attentive to Financial Fair Play. It’s the first thing we check with the commercial, financial and legal people to see if we can do it before signing someone,’ he said.
‘I think the media need to focus on the positives and not just the negatives of these moves, but what positives [Messi] brings,’ the PSG chairman added. ‘He’s an unbelievable asset to the club.’
Al-Khelaifi’s comments were backed up by thousands of fans who had gathered outside the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, banging on drums, waving flags and chanting Messi’s name.
‘My arrival here was both surprising and crazy,’ Messi said. ‘It was the icing on the cake, as if I needed any more convincing.’