PSG Beat Lyon But Messi Yet To Score First Goal In France


Paris Saint-Germain’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi reacts after Lyon scored its opener during the French L1 football match between Paris-Saint Germain (PSG) and Olympique Lyonnais at The Parc des Princes Stadium in Paris on September 19, 2021. FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) needed an injury time goal to defeat Lyon 2-1 in a French Ligue 1 clash on Sunday, but Argentine superstar, Lionel Messi was not on the scoring sheet as the wait for his first goal in France continued.

Messi outshone his team-mates in PSG’s all-star attack for much of the game at the Parc des Princes but he had been taken off by the time substitute Icardi headed in a cross from the left to secure a win that looked unlikely for long spells.

The excellent Lucas Paqueta gave Lyon the lead in the 54th minute, before Neymar won and then converted from the spot midway through the second half of an absorbing contest at the Parc des Princes.

The fact it was a contest might come as a surprise to many who expect PSG to run away with the Ligue 1 title this season and perhaps even go all the way in the Champions League.

However, they were disappointing in drawing 1-1 with Club Brugge in Belgium in midweek in Messi’s first start for the club and they were given a run for their money by Peter Bosz’s Lyon in a meeting of the two most successful French sides this century.

Yet Icardi –- in many ways the forgotten man of the PSG attack –- allowed his side to make it six wins from six in Ligue 1 this season and they are now five points clear at the top from Marseille.

That gap will surely widen as the weeks go by. Lyon, for all their good intentions here, are already 10 points behind the leaders in ninth place.

Not Messi’s Night 

Three games into his Paris career Messi is still looking for his first goal, but he was unfortunate not to find the net in the first half when everything PSG did went through the six-time Ballon d’Or winner.

Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Angel di Maria were all on the field too but –- unfortunately for such a superstar attack –- there is only one ball and it seemed to be drawn to Messi’s feet.

He was set up by Mbappe for a shot that was saved by Anthony Lopes in the 17th minute. Then he combined with Neymar for another effort that was turned behind, and soon after the Argentine cracked a free-kick from almost 30 metres off the junction of bar and post.

That was in contrast to a free-kick that Neymar blazed over at the start of the second half, and in the 54th minute Lyon got the goal they had occasionally been threatening as Karl Toko-Ekambi delivered a low ball from the left and Paqueta swept a first-time shot low into the net at Gianluigi Donnarumma’s near post.

Neymar Spot On


Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian forward Neymar (R) is congratulated by Paris Saint-Germain’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi after scoring on a penalty during the French L1 football match between Paris-Saint Germain (PSG) and Olympique Lyonnais at The Parc des Princes Stadium in Paris on September 19, 2021.
FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

PSG were back level in the 66th minute as Neymar went down in the box under a challenge from youngster Malo Gusto.

It could just as easily have been a free-kick the other way but a penalty was given and the world’s most expensive player sent the goalkeeper the wrong way after his trademark stuttering run-up.

Messi remains short of full fitness and as he faded from the game he was taken off and replaced by Achraf Hakimi 14 minutes from time.

He appeared to reject coach Mauricio Pochettino’s hand as he walked past, but without him PSG got the winner as Mbappe’s superb cross from the left was headed in by Icardi.

PSG are back in league action at Metz on Wednesday and host Montpellier next weekend before entertaining Manchester City in the Champions League on September 28.

Marseille continued their unbeaten start as Bamba Dieng and Amine Harit netted in a 2-0 win over Rennes at the Velodrome.

Dieng, the 21-year-old forward from Senegal, has now scored three goals in the last two games for Marseille, who are emerging as the most likely team to give PSG a run for their money this season.

Elsewhere, Wissam Ben Yedder’s spot-kick secured Monaco a 2-2 draw in the Cote d’Azur derby at Nice, who saw Amine Gouiri miss a late penalty.

AFP

Marseille Win As Messi Continues Search For First PSG Goal

File photo: Paris Saint-Germain’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi reacts during the UEFA Champions League Group A football match Club Brugge against Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) at Jan Breydel Stadium in Bruges, on September 15, 2021. JOHN THYS / AFP

 

Goals by Bamba Dieng and Amine Harit gave Marseille a 2-0 win over Rennes that allowed them to move within a point of Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain before the capital side faced Lyon on Sunday evening.

Dieng netted twice in Marseille’s win at Monaco last weekend and the 21-year-old forward from Senegal opened the scoring three minutes into the second half at the Velodrome when he turned in Pol Lirola’s cross.

Moroccan midfielder Amine Harit then saw his shot squeeze into the net under Rennes goalkeeper Alfred Gomis in the 71st minute to make it 2-0 for Marseille, who are unbeaten with 13 points so far this season and have a game in hand.

Jorge Sampaoli’s side lie two points behind leaders PSG, who were seeking to extend their perfect start to the campaign against Lyon at the Parc des Princes.

Lionel Messi was handed his home debut as a PSG player in that game after starting for his new club for the first time in the 1-1 draw away to Club Brugge in Belgium in the Champions League in midweek. The Argentine is yet to score for PSG.

Fellow summer signings Gianluigi Donnarumma and Nuno Mendes also started for Mauricio Pochettino’s team.

Elsewhere in Ligue 1 on Sunday, Wissam Ben Yedder’s spot-kick secured Monaco a 2-2 draw in the Cote d’Azur derby at Nice, while the hosts rued a late missed penalty from Amine Gouiri.

Aleksandr Golovin steered Monaco ahead before half-time in a game played behind closed doors at the Allianz Riviera after Nice were punished over the crowd trouble in last month’s abandoned match with Marseille.

Golovin’s goal was the first Nice had conceded this season after beginning the season with four successive clean sheets.

Andy Delort headed Nice level on 51 minutes with his first goal for the club since signing from Montpellier at the end of August.

Hicham Boudaoui slammed in a cross from fellow Algeria international Delort to give Nice the lead with a quarter-hour to play.

Ben Yedder equalised minutes later after Caio Henrique was clipped by Calvin Stengs in the area, the France forward drilling home the resulting penalty.

Nice had an immediate chance to regain the lead when Benoit Badiashile handled in the area, but Gouiri sliced his attempt well wide — ripping open his shirt in frustration.

The draw kept Nice unbeaten and five points behind PSG.

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Angers missed the chance to retake second place as they went down 4-1 at home to Nantes for their first defeat this season.

Meanwhile, the French league’s disciplinary committee will convene on Monday to discuss the pitch invasion that caused a 30-minute delay during Lens’ 1-0 win over northern derby rivals Lille on Saturday.

“The LFP strongly condemns the trouble, the pitch invasion and the violence that took place” during the game at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis.

Dozens of Lens supporters stormed the pitch at half-time to confront the visiting Lille fans nestled away in a corner of the ground after tensions flared with other spectators.

Riot police intervened to separate the factions of opposing supporters as both sets of fans hurled seats at each other over a partition wall.

Six people sustained minor injuries and police made two arrests.

AFP

Champions League: Messi Makes First Start As Club Brugge Hold PSG

Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe (C) fights for the ball with Club Brugge’s French defender Stanley Nsoki (L) during the UEFA Champions League Group A football match Club Brugge against Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) at Jan Breydel Stadium in Bruges, on September 15, 2021. JOHN THYS / AFP

 

Lionel Messi finally made his first start for Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday but the disjointed French giants had to settle for a 1-1 draw with Club Brugge in Belgium to begin their Champions League campaign.

Ander Herrera gave PSG an early lead at the Jan Breydel Stadium only for Hans Vanaken to equalise for the home side, who were excellent and thoroughly deserved their point.

Messi — who had played just 24 minutes as a substitute prior to this game — is still looking for his first goal for his new club although he hit the bar in the first half and tested Brugge goalkeeper Simon Mignolet after the break before picking up a yellow card for a foul on Mats Rits.

However it was not a convincing performance from the Parisians as coach Mauricio Pochettino lined up his star attacking trio of Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe together for the first time.

“We need time for them to get to know each other,” insisted Pochettino of his front three.

Mbappe came off hurt in the second half and PSG, despite building a team with the aim of winning the Champions League, have already complicated their chances just of making it out of a difficult Group A.

They next host Manchester City, the team that eliminated them in last season’s semi-finals and who began their campaign with a remarkable 6-3 victory against RB Leipzig on Wednesday.

“I am pleased with the effort. It wasn’t a great evening for us but we need to stay calm and keep working,” said Pochettino.

“The most important thing is to get the necessary time. We will try to do better.”

Club Brugge were seen as the likely whipping boys when the draw was made but the Belgian champions are a well-run club with a proud history –- European Cup runners-up in 1978 — and some excellent players.

READ ALSO: Man City Hit Leipzig For Six In Champions League

 ‘More Motivation’ 

Paris Saint-Germain’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi reacts during the UEFA Champions League Group A football match Club Brugge against Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) at Jan Breydel Stadium in Bruges, on September 15, 2021. JOHN THYS / AFP

 

For all the talk of Messi, Neymar and Mbappe – already christened the ‘MNM’ – for much of this game the most impressive attackers were in the blue and black stripes of the home side.

Captain Vanaken got their goal, while giant young striker Charles De Ketelaere was a constant threat and Dutchman Noa Lang regularly got in behind Achraf Hakimi on the PSG right.

“We showed we have guts. Real guts,” said Brugge coach Philippe Clement.

“My players played a historic game. I am extremely proud. We have proven that physically we are very strong. I think we just had more motivation.”

Pochettino can point to the absences of Angel di Maria and Idrissa Gana Gueye due to suspension as well as the injured Marco Verratti but his team will need to do much better in their coming European outings.

Yet their evening had started so well, with Mbappe turning Clinton Mata inside out before sending in a low ball from the left for the arriving Herrera to sweep home in the 15th minute.

Forget the superstar strikers, that was the Spanish midfielder’s fourth goal in PSG’s last four games.

However the home side were back level before the half-hour mark as Eduard Sobol got in behind Hakimi and cut the ball back for the unmarked Vanaken to finish.

Moments later Messi cracked a curling strike off the crossbar but Keylor Navas -– preferred to Gianluigi Donnarumma in the away goal — was kept busy saving from a Vanaken free-kick and tipping over a De Ketelaere shot.

Pochettino had to make changes at half-time, replacing midfield duo Leandro Paredes and Georginio Wijnaldum with Danilo Pereira and Julian Draxler.

Mbappe then had to hobble off with a worrying ankle knock just six minutes into the second half.

PSG finished the stronger of the two sides but Mignolet boxed away Messi’s shot in the 70th minute and the Argentine blazed another attempt over, as the Belgian fans celebrated the draw as though it were a victory.

AFP

 

Barcelona Face Bayern Again Without Messi

File photo: Ex-Barcelona Argentinian forward Lionel Messi reacts during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final football match between Barcelona and Bayern Munich at the Luz stadium in Lisbon on August 14, 2020. (Photo by Manu Fernandez / POOL / AFP)

 

“We need change from top to bottom,” Gerard Pique said but even he could not have predicted what followed as Barcelona, without Lionel Messi, reunite with Bayern Munich on Tuesday, a year on from the defeat that changed everything.

After the 8-2 loss by Bayern in the Champions League quarter-finals, Pique said Barca needed change of all kinds, “not just players and coaches, but structurally”, insisting “new blood” was needed. “We are not able to compete in Europe,” he said.

The humiliation felt like rock bottom, a brutal confirmation of mediocrity delivered by a club about to reach the summit of Europe against one no longer anywhere near it.

Pique demanded revolution but little has improved in the year since, the club’s financial horrors laid bare by Messi’s departure to Paris Saint-Germain, which has been harder to stomach for the fans than any thrashing on the pitch.

Ten days after the loss in Lisbon, Messi sent Barcelona the burofax stating his desire to leave and while he insisted it had nothing to do with the Bayern defeat, he also said they “had given off a very bad image. It was wrong.”

And so for the first time in almost two decades, Barca begin a Champions League campaign this week without their best ever player, who registered his first Champions League goal in 2005 and went on to score 120 in 149 games for them, against 41 different opponents, including seven hat-tricks.

Messi won four Champions Leagues in 10 years at Camp Nou but none in his last six and while he was far from blameless, every failure enhanced the sense of a historic career being wasted.

Whether the theory Messi’s absence will liberate others has merit remains to be seen but there is certainly less pressure now to succeed, even less than last season, when a gallant draw with PSG in the second leg came as something of a relief after a 4-1 loss in the first.

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Memphis Face of New Era? 

File photo:  Bayern Munich’s Polish forward Robert Lewandowski celebrates after scoring his team’s sixth goal during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final football match between Barcelona and Bayern Munich at the Luz stadium in Lisbon on August 14, 2020. (Photo by Manu Fernandez / POOL / AFP)

 

Dampened expectations could at least offer a more forgiving platform for Barca’s youngsters to thrive and others, like Memphis Depay and Ousmane Dembele, to step forward.

“Memphis can mark a new era at Barca,” said Koeman this week. “He has the things you need to be a success here: personality and character.”

If new blood was needed, Koeman has helped accelerate the transition as the likes of Pedri, Frenkie de Jong, Sergino Dest and Ronald Araujo have risen in prominence, ready perhaps to lead themselves.

There have been departures too, 20 of them since the final whistle blew in Lisbon, not to mention the coach, with Quique Setien being swiftly replaced by Koeman. Five of those that played against Bayern in 2020 have gone.

It was the board Pique was targeting most and there has been wholesale change there as well, with Joan Laporta taking over as president and installing Mateu Alemany as the new director of football.

But Laporta’s first six months has been so consumed by keeping the club afloat, there have been precious few decisions aimed at taking it forward.

Last month, Laporta indicated the club’s total debts amounted to 1.35 billion euros, with player salaries 103 per cent of income, a figure now closer to 80 per cent after the transfer window. Saving, not improving, has been the priority.

The result is perhaps a club with better hopes for the future but a team that looks even worse than the one before and it would be a huge surprise if Barcelona troubled either the Champions League’s latter stages or primary contenders.

When Pique said they were “no longer able to compete in Europe” last year, there was anger in his voice but there is more of an acceptance now, an awareness that for now the pinnacle is almost certainly out of reach.

For Barcelona, the worst may be over but it could be a while before the good times return.

AFP

Messi Set For PSG Debut

Messi is expected to lead PSG’s push for a first Champions League title. Photo: Instagram/PSG

 

Lionel Messi was named in the Paris Saint-Germain squad for the first time on Sunday morning suggesting the breathless wait for his Ligue 1 debut could end at Reims.

Coach Mauricio Pochettino had indicated on Saturday that all three of PSG’s golden trio would be in his squad for the first time.

On Sunday he made that official, naming Neymar, who also has yet to play this season and Kylian Mbappe in his squad for the trip to Reims for the evening match.

With two days left in the transfer window, this could be the only time the three stars play as team-mates.

While Messi, who joined PSG on August 10, is poised to say hello to French football, Mbappe could be bidding it adieu.

The World Cup winner’s future is still uncertain after Real Madrid reportedly made a bid to buy him. The rumoured fee would be the biggest paid for a player by any club other than PSG.

PSG are taking 22 players to Reims, but only 11 starts with nine more on the bench.

On Saturday Pochettino said Messi was “very motivated” to play.

READ ALSO: Ten-man Chelsea Hold Liverpool At Anfield

(From L) Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe, Paris Saint-Germain’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi, Paris Saint-Germain’s Moroccan defender Achraf Hakimi, and Paris Saint-Germain’s Spanish midfielder Pablo Sarabia attend a training session at the Camp des Loges Paris Saint-Germain football club’s training ground in Saint-Germain-en-Laye on August 13, 2021. (Photo by Bertrand GUAY / AFP)

 

Since it seemed unlikely the coach would take the six-time Ballon D’Or winner along and not put him on the team sheet, the question that remained tantalizingly unanswered was: whether Messi would start at the Stade Auguste-Delaune, or would he tease from the substitutes’ bench?

Messi and Neymar both missed the first two league games as they worked their way to match fitness after demanding summers. They met in the Copa America final on July 10 in Brazil as Argentina won to earn Messi his first international trophy.

They will be reunited as team-mates for the first time since PSG broke the bank to attract Neymar for Barcelona in 2017.

The possible symbolism of Messi’s first official appearance for PSG in Reims, where French kings were traditionally crowned, was not lost on sports daily L’Equipe.

“Leo I, a king in Reims”, it wrote on its front page declaring his possible selection a “coronation”.

Le Parisien pointed to the local club’s history as home to “three of the most beautiful artists of this game”. A Reims squad led by Just Fontaine and Raymond Kopa reached the first-ever European Cup final in 1956.

AFP

‘Many Moments Of Joy:’ Ronaldinho Wishes Messi Well At PSG


Argentinian football player Lionel Messi arrives at the Royal Monceau hotel in Paris on August 10, 2021, as the football legend is expected to sign an initial two-year deal with Paris Saint-Germain football club following his departure from boyhood club Barcelona. Sameer Al-DOUMY / AFP

 

Former Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Ronaldinho wished Lionel Messi “many moments of joy” on Tuesday after the Argentina attacker joined the French club from the La Liga giants.

Earlier PSG announced 34-year-old Messi had signed a two-year deal with the club, making the opposite move to the one the former Brazil playmaker Ronaldinho made in 2003.

Ronaldinho, who won his only Ballon d’Or at the Camp Nou in 2005, predicted a first Champions League success for the Qatari-owned Parisians with former Real Madrid and Spain captain Sergio Ramos also heading to the French capital.

Messi and Ronaldinho played together at Barca between 2004 and 2008.

“It’s a great joy to have played in these two clubs and now see my friend wearing this shirt, may there be many moments of joy Leo!” he said on Twitter.

“I’m also very happy with my partner @sergioramos on the team and a super cast, I’m feeling Champions,” he added.

READ ALSO: 11 Outstanding Records Held By Lionel Messi

READ ALSO: Messi Ends Trophy Drought As Argentina Beat Brazil To Win Copa America

Elsewhere, Brazil will host Argentina on September in Sao Paulo, which could pit Messi against PSG’s Neymar, in a qualifying game for the 2022 World Cup.

AFP

 

 

Messi Eyes ‘Something Special’ At PSG

Messi is expected to lead PSG’s push for a first Champions League title. Photo: Instagram/PSG

 

Lionel Messi said he wants to “build something special” at Paris Saint-Germain before being unveiled as a Parisian player on Wednesday.

The 34-year-old superstar signed a two-year deal with PSG on Tuesday with the option of an additional year.

Messi, who will wear the number 30 in Paris, the number he had when he began his professional career at Barca, will be unveiled by PSG at a press conference at 11:00 am (0900 GMT) on Wednesday.

“I am excited to begin a new chapter of my career at Paris Saint-Germain,” he said in a statement on the club’s website.

“Everything about the club matches my football ambitions,” said Messi, who was given a hero’s welcome by the PSG fans when he arrived in the French capital on Tuesday.

“I know how talented the squad and the coaching staff are here.

“I am determined to help build something special for the club and the fans, and I am looking forward to stepping out onto the pitch at the Parc des Princes.”

French Football League president Vincent Labrune hailed the surprise arrival of the six-time Ballon d’Or winner as “extraordinary news for the exposure of Ligue 1 internationally”.

“The arrival of Lionel Messi will increase the attractiveness and visibility of our league on all continents,” he said on Wednesday, praising PSG’s leadership.

READ ALSO: Messi Ends Trophy Drought As Argentina Beat Brazil To Win Copa America

Warm welcome


Supporters gather outside Le Bourget airport, north of Paris, where Argentinian football player Lionel Messi will arrive, on August 10, 2021, as Paris Saint-Germain look to complete the 34-year-old signing following his departure from Barcelona, the club he has represented for the entirety of his 17-year professional career so far.  Sameer Al-DOUMY / AFP

 

Messi, who was a free agent after his shock departure from boyhood club Barcelona last week, landed at Le Bourget airport in the north of Paris on Tuesday afternoon.

He was greeted by hundreds of PSG supporters who had gathered hoping to catch a glimpse of their new signing.

Fans also gathered outside the club’s Parc des Princes home and near a plush hotel in the city where Messi along with wife Antonella and their three children are expected to be staying.

Messi waved to crowds while sporting a Paris T-shirt on his arrival at the airport before being taken for his medical.

The completion of his move closes a whirlwind few days following the announcement last Thursday that he would leave Barcelona, the club he has represented for the entirety of his 17-year professional career.

PSG’s move for Messi had been an open secret for days, although reports in Spain on Monday night talked of a “final offer” by Barcelona to try to keep the player.

Instead, Messi will join a PSG attack already featuring Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

Qatar-backed PSG see Messi as the missing piece in their jigsaw as they chase the Champions League, the trophy they want more than anything else.

“Back together,” Neymar, who played with Messi at Barcelona before moving to PSG in 2017, posted on Twitter.

Coming to terms 

messi-
File photo: Ex-Barcelona forward Lionel Messi looks downwards during the Spanish League football match between FC Barcelona and CA Osasuna at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on July 16, 2020. LLUIS GENE / AFP

 

Barcelona are still coming to terms with the departure of their greatest ever player, who said goodbye to his club of two decades at a tearful news conference on Sunday.

Despite offering to cut his salary by half to seal a new five-year contract with the Catalans, the deal foundered on Spanish league salary cap rules.

Barcelona, carrying debts of 1.2 billion euros ($1.4 billion), are unable to register new signings because of their financial predicament.

With Abu Dhabi-owned Manchester City having ruled themselves out, PSG were about the only club that could afford what is expected to be a deal worth 35 million euros a year.

He leaves Barcelona with 672 goals in 778 appearances, a record tally for one club.

Messi won 35 trophies at the Camp Nou after joining Barca aged 13, but his last appearance was a damp squib: a 2-1 home defeat behind closed doors against Celta Vigo in May.

His trophy haul includes four Champions Leagues and 10 La Liga titles.

“Firstly, I’m a little sad for him. He wanted to stay at Barcelona,” former teammate Cesc Fabregas said late on Tuesday.

“I’m from Barcelona and you know it’s going to be difficult to watch Barca without Leo.”

PSG building 

This summer, PSG have already added veteran Spanish defender Sergio Ramos from Real Madrid and Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, the star of Euro 2020.

They have also signed Georginio Wijnaldum from Liverpool, snatching the Netherlands’ midfielder from under the noses of Barcelona, and spent 60 million euros on Inter Milan right-back Achraf Hakimi, who scored on his PSG league debut at the weekend.

Messi could be unveiled to supporters on Saturday, when PSG host Strasbourg and a full house of nearly 48,000 will be allowed in for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic struck 18 months ago.

However, he is unlikely to make his debut until later this month at the earliest.

AFP

Messi Joins PSG After 21 Years At Barcelona

 

Argentine star Lionel Messi has joined Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), two days after he confirmed his exit from Barcelona. 

The 34-year-old La Albiceleste skipper signed a two-year deal, the club said on Tuesday. Messi has an option of extending his deal with the French outfit. He will receive a £25m signing-on fee as part of the move.

“I am excited to begin a new chapter of my career at Paris Saint-Germain,” said Messi in a statement on the club’s website.

Messi will wear the number 30 as revealed in a video by the club, the number he had when he began his professional career at Barcelona between 2004-2006.

“Everything about the club matches my football ambitions,” Messi, who was given a hero’s welcome by the PSG fans when he arrived in the French capital, added.

“I know how talented the squad and the coaching staff are here. I am determined to help build something special for the club and the fans, and I am looking forward to stepping out onto the pitch at the Parc des Princes.”

 

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READ ALSO: 11 Outstanding Records Held By Lionel Messi

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Warm welcome


Supporters gather outside Le Bourget airport, north of Paris, where Argentinian football player Lionel Messi will arrive, on August 10, 2021, as Paris Saint-Germain look to complete the 34-year-old signing following his departure from Barcelona, the club he has represented for the entirety of his 17-year professional career so far.  Sameer Al-DOUMY / AFP

 

Messi, who was a free agent after his shock departure from boyhood club Barcelona last week, landed at Le Bourget airport to the north of Paris on Tuesday afternoon.

There he was greeted by hundreds of PSG supporters who had gathered hoping to catch a glimpse of their new signing.

Those fans also gathered outside the club’s Parc des Princes home and near a plush hotel in the city where Messi along with wife Antonella and their three children are expected to be staying.

Messi waved to crowds while sporting a Paris t-shirt on his arrival at the airport before being taken for his medical.

“I am delighted that Lionel Messi has chosen to join Paris Saint-Germain and we are proud to welcome him and his family to Paris. He has made no secret of his desire to continue competing at the very highest level and winning trophies, and naturally our ambition as a club is to do the same,” Chairman and CEO of Paris Saint-Germain, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, said.

“The addition of Leo to our world class squad continues a very strategic and successful transfer window for the club. Led by our outstanding coach and his staff, I look forward to the team making history together for our fans all around the world.”

Messi’s father Jorge, who is also his agent, had earlier confirmed the inevitable as he arrived at Barcelona’s El Prat airport to board a flight to France.

Asked by reporters if his son would sign for the French club, he replied: “Yes”.

The completion of his move closes a whirlwind few days following the announcement last Thursday that he would leave Barcelona, the club he has represented for the entirety of his 17-year professional career.

PSG’s move for Messi had been an open secret for days, although reports in Spain on Monday night talked of a “final offer” by Barcelona to try to keep the player.

Instead, the six-time Ballon d’Or winner will join a PSG attack already featuring Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

Qatar-backed PSG see Messi as the missing piece in their jigsaw as they chase the Champions League, the trophy they want more than anything else.

“Back together,” Neymar, who played with Messi at Barcelona before moving to PSG in 2017, posted on Twitter.

‘Coming to terms’

Ex-Barcelona Argentinian forward Lionel Messi cries at the start of a press conference at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on August 8, 2021.  (Photo by Pau BARRENA / AFP)

 

Barcelona are still coming to terms with the departure of their greatest ever player, who said goodbye to his club of two decades at a tearful news conference on Sunday.

Despite offering to cut his salary by half to seal a new five-year contract with the Catalans, the deal foundered on Spanish league salary cap rules.

Barcelona, carrying debts of 1.2 billion euros ($1.41 billion), are unable to register new signings because of their financial predicament.

With Abu Dhabi-owned Manchester City having ruled themselves out, PSG were about the only club who could afford what is expected to be a deal worth 35 million euros ($41 million) a year.

He leaves Barcelona with 672 goals in 778 appearances, a record tally for one club.

Messi won 35 trophies at the Camp Nou after joining Barca aged 13, but his last appearance was a damp squib: a 2-1 home defeat behind closed doors against Celta Vigo in May.

His trophy haul includes four Champions Leagues and 10 La Liga titles.

“It will be difficult to see him in another shirt than that of Barca,” Messi’s old Barcelona team-mate Andres Iniesta, now playing in Japan, told AFP in an interview on Tuesday.

“As a player he just transcended everything. I’ve not seen a player like him — and I don’t think I ever will. You look at what he did and for so long…”

Messi could be unveiled to supporters on Saturday, when PSG host Strasbourg and a full house of nearly 48,000 will be allowed in for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic struck 18 months ago.

However he is unlikely to make his debut until later this month at the earliest.

PSG Set To Unveil Messi

Argentinian football player Lionel Messi waves to supporters from a window after he landed on August 10, 2021 at Le Bourget airport, north of Paris, as Paris Saint-Germain look to complete the 34-year-old signing following his departure from Barcelona, the club he has represented for the entirety of his 17-year professional career so far. (Photo by Sameer Al-DOUMY / AFP)

 

Lionel Messi is set to be officially unveiled as a Paris Saint-Germain player on Wednesday after arriving in the French capital to a hero’s welcome and undergoing a medical.

PSG made no official announcement regarding Messi’s signing but did call a press conference for 11:00 am (0900 GMT) Wednesday at which the Argentinian superstar will be presented to the world’s media.

The 34-year-old, who was a free agent after his shock departure from boyhood club Barcelona last week, landed at Le Bourget airport to the north of Paris on Tuesday afternoon.

There he was greeted by hundreds of PSG supporters who had gathered hoping to catch a glimpse of their new signing.

Those fans also gathered outside the club’s Parc des Princes stadium and outside a plush hotel in the city where Messi along with wife Antonella and their three children are expected to be staying.

Messi waved to crowds while sporting a Paris t-shirt on his arrival at the airport before being taken for a medical at a hospital just outside the city, the final step before his signing could be made official by the Qatar-backed club.

Messi’s father Jorge, who is also his agent, earlier confirmed the inevitable as he arrived at Barcelona’s El Prat airport to board a flight to France.

Asked by reporters if his son would sign for the French club, he replied: “Yes”.

Messi is expected to sign an initial two-year deal, and the completion of his move will close a whirlwind few days following the announcement last Thursday that he would leave Barcelona, the club he has represented for the entirety of his 17-year professional career.

PSG’s move for Messi had been an open secret for days, although reports in Spain on Monday night talked of a “final offer” by Barcelona to try to keep the player.

Instead, the six-time Ballon d’Or winner will join a PSG attack already featuring Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

PSG see Messi as the missing piece in their jigsaw as they chase the Champions League, the trophy they want more than anything else.

“Back together,” Neymar, who played with Messi at Barcelona before moving to PSG in 2017, posted on Twitter.

READ ALSO: Messi Ends Trophy Drought As Argentina Beat Brazil To Win Copa America

Coming to terms 

Ex-Barcelona Argentinian forward Lionel Messi cries at the start of a press conference at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on August 8, 2021. (Photo by Pau BARRENA / AFP)

 

Barcelona are still coming to terms with the departure of their greatest ever player, who said goodbye to his club of two decades at a tearful news conference on Sunday.

Despite offering to cut his salary by half to seal a new five-year contract with Barcelona, the deal foundered on Spanish league salary cap rules.

Barcelona, carrying debts of 1.2 billion euros ($1.41 billion), are unable to register new signings because of their financial predicament.

With Abu Dhabi-owned Manchester City having ruled themselves out, PSG were about the only club who could afford what is expected to be a deal worth 35 million euros ($41 million) a year.

He leaves Barcelona with 672 goals in 778 appearances, a record tally for one club.

Messi won 35 trophies at the Camp Nou after joining Barca aged 13, but his last appearance was a damp squib: a 2-1 home defeat behind closed doors against Celta Vigo in May.

His trophy haul includes four Champions Leagues and 10 La Liga titles.

“It will be difficult to see him in another shirt than that of Barca,” Messi’s old Barcelona team-mate Andres Iniesta, now playing in Japan, told AFP in an interview on Tuesday.

“As a player he just transcended everything. I’ve not seen a player like him — and I don’t think I ever will. You look at what he did and for so long…”

READ ALSO: 11 Outstanding Records Held By Lionel Messi

‘Extraordinary for Ligue 1’ 

messi-
File photo: Ex-Barcelona forward Lionel Messi looks downwards during the Spanish League football match between FC Barcelona and CA Osasuna at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on July 16, 2020. LLUIS GENE / AFP

 

Messi is now preparing for a new life in Paris and in Ligue 1.

His arrival makes PSG even more obvious favourites to reclaim a French title they missed out on last season to Lille.

Some in Ligue 1 have mixed feelings about the impending arrival of arguably the greatest player of all time.

“It’s extraordinary for Ligue 1,” said Metz coach Frederic Antonetti.

“But for a purist like me, Messi should have finished his career at Barcelona.”

This summer PSG have already added veteran Spanish defender Sergio Ramos from Real Madrid and Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, the star of Euro 2020.

They have also signed Georginio Wijnaldum from Liverpool, snatching the Netherlands’ midfielder from under the noses of Barcelona, and spent 60 million euros on Inter Milan right-back Achraf Hakimi, who scored on his PSG league debut at the weekend.

Messi could be unveiled to supporters on Saturday, when PSG host Strasbourg and a full house of nearly 48,000 will be allowed in for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic struck 18 months ago.

However he is unlikely to make his debut until later this month at the earliest.

AFP

It’s Difficult To See Messi In Another Club’s Colours, Says Iniesta

Iniesta played with Messi for 14 years. Photo: [email protected]

 

They played together for Barcelona for 14 years, winning everything the club game has to offer on multiple occasions.

Both have now left the Catalan club — but former midfield general Andres Iniesta, who joined Japan’s Vissel Kobe three years ago, says it will be hard to see Leo Messi play for another team.

“It will be difficult to see him in another shirt than that of Barca,” Iniesta told AFP on Tuesday as Messi flew to a new adventure with Paris Saint-Germain.

“I don’t know if surprise is the right word — Leo really has represented Barca for so many years. But sometimes circumstances dictate things. I don’t have the inside track but it is a situation people will just have to deal with,” said Iniesta, who, like Messi, bade farewell to Barcelona at 34.

READ ALSO: Brazil Beat Spain To Retain Olympic Football Crown

‘Transcended Everything’

In this file photo taken on November 24, 2018 Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi reacts during the Spanish league football match between Club Atletico de Madrid and FC Barcelona at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid. JAVIER SORIANO / AFP
In this file photo taken on November 24, 2018 ex-Barcelona’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi reacts during the Spanish league football match between Club Atletico de Madrid and FC Barcelona at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid. JAVIER SORIANO / AFP

 

“As a player he just transcended everything. I’ve not seen a player like him — and I don’t think I ever will. You look at what he did and for so long…

Iniesta insisted Barca will remain a force even without their talisman and record scorer.

“I am confident of that — new faces are coming in who will make their own major contributions,” Iniesta said as fans reeled from the news that after 17 seasons Messi was off to sign a reported two-year bumper deal with PSG.

If Messi takes up a mooted option of a third year he will be 37 — Iniesta’s age now — and the latter has proved his own longevity by agreeing a further two years Japanese extension.

“Every year it does take it out of you more and things get more complicated but as long as you really want to get out there, train and play then you keep going.”

Iniesta, who has lifted a Japanese Emperor’s Cup and Super Cup with Kobe, reflected that he knew his time at Barcelona was up when he moved on. “There comes a moment when you say, it’s over,” he said.

But he would not say if his own latest contract will be his last as a player.

Asked if he might return in some capacity to Barcelona he would only say “of course it would be great to go back. I spent many years there. It’s my home and I would like to be where one feels loved, respected and at ease.

“But I don’t know what will be my next step. I don’t know if I will be coach, sporting director or anything like that.

“I’ll only say that if you ask:  would I like to go back, I’d say ‘yes’ as Barcelona is our home. Time will tell,” said Iniesta, who made almost 700 first-team appearances for Barca and 130 for Spain adding he did intend to obtain a coaching licence.

AFP

Tearful Messi Confirms Barcelona Exit

Barcelona’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi cries at the start of a press conference at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on August 8, 2021. – The six-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi had been expected to sign a new five-year deal with Barcelona on August 5 but instead, after 788 games, the club announced he is leaving at the age of 34. (Photo by Pau BARRENA / AFP)

 

Lionel Messi fought back tears Sunday as he began a press conference at which he confirmed he is leaving Barcelona, where he has played his entire career.

The 34-year-old Argentinian superstar, six times a Ballon d’Or winner, has been out of contract since the end of June and Barca say they cannot afford to keep him, with Paris Saint-Germain widely expected to try to entice him to the Parc des Princes.

“This year, my family and I were convinced we were going to stay here, at home — this is what we wanted more than anything,” said a suited Messi as he struggled to contain his emotions.

Last year he sought to engineer a release from his contract in frustration at some poor showings in Europe by the club where he has won four Champions Leagues but ended up staying.

Last month Barcelona, battling huge debts, had said they were in agreement in principle with the player and his entourage on a new five-year deal on much reduced wages.

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“The truth is I don’t know what to say,” said Messi, who signed for the Catalan giants as a 13-year-old.

“After 21 years I am leaving with my three Catalan Argentine children,” said Messi, who won 10 league titles with the club.

“I gave everything for this club from the first day that I arrived right to the last. I never imagined having to say goodbye.

“In recent days I have given lots of thought to what I can say and truth to tell I can’t think of anything.

“This is really difficult for me after so many years spent here — my entire life. I’m not ready for this,” he told a packed conference at the club as thousands of fans milled outside.

AFP

‘Absolutely Not’: Guardiola Quashes Talk Of Messi Move

 


Lindsey Parnaby / AFP

 

Pep Guardiola has ruled out a Manchester City move for Lionel Messi after Barcelona’s shock announcement that the Argentina superstar will leave the Camp Nou.

City boss Guardiola was Messi’s manager at Barcelona for four successful years and the Premier League champions were immediately linked with the forward following Thursday’s bombshell news.

But Guardiola had just wrapped up a British record £100 million ($139 million) swoop for Aston Villa playmaker Jack Grealish when Messi unexpectedly became a free agent.

And, speaking at a press conference on Friday, Guardiola insisted a reunion with Messi was not in his plans at present.

“Right now it is not in our thoughts (to sign Messi), absolutely not,” Guardiola said.

“We spent £40 million on Jack Grealish. £100 million we pay and £60 million we earned in the last year and he will bring the number 10 because we were convinced for Jack Grealish.

“It looked like it finished well in terms of (Messi) continuing with Barcelona. In the end, it was a surprise for everyone, I included of course, but I think Laporta was clear today the reason why.”

Barcelona president Joan Laporta said the club have been forced to end their long relationship with Messi because of “awful” financial problems inherited from the previous regime.

Messi, 34, was out of contract at the end of last season but appeared set to sign a new deal before the sudden announcement of his exit.

As well as City, Paris Saint Germain have also been suggested as suitors for Messi, who won four Champions League and 10 La Liga titles with Barcelona.

Having seen the impact made by Messi at Barcelona up close, Guardiola paid tribute to the star’s remarkable contribution to the club.

“Unfortunately, because as a supporter for my club, I would love him to finish but today the club’s sustainability is so important and what happened in the last year was really not good,” Guardiola said.

“That is why he arrives in this. I have incredible gratitude as a fan for the most extraordinary player I see in my life. Much more than the titles he helped to win Barcelona, how he helped me to be a better manager and to go to Munich and after to England.

“The incredible emotion and actions to be in front of the team and to watch him what he can do with the ball, with his mates in one football game, day by day, game by game, he would make something unique.

“Only I can say thank you so much to bring Barcelona to another level, to bring Barcelona to dominate the world during a decade with him and his mates. I of course wish him for the last years of his career the best and will not be forgotten, that’s for sure.

“Hopefully one day we can properly say the best farewell game ever. He deserves it for his contribution to this club for another level but if Laporta arrives in this situation it is unfortunately because someone before didn’t do well.”

-AFP