September 19, 2021

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Football and other sports news

Lionel Messi signs 2-year contract with Paris Saint-Germain

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Lionel Messi arrived at Barcelona airport on Tuesday and was expected to fly to France to join Paris Saint Germain (PSG) after his shock departure from the Spanish club he joined as a schoolboy.

Lionel Messi finally signed his eagerly anticipated Paris Saint-Germain contract on Tuesday night to complete the move that confirms the end of a career-long association with Barcelona and sends PSG into a new era.

The French club said in a statement that the 34-year-old Argentina star signed a two-year deal with the option for a third season.

“I am excited to begin a new chapter of my career at Paris Saint-Germain,” Messi said. “Everything about the club matches my football ambitions. 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.”

No salary details were given, but a person with knowledge of the negotiations earlier told The Associated Press that Messi is set to earn around 35 million euros ($41 million) net annually. The person said on condition of anonymity before the contract was signed.

“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,” PSG chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi said. “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.”

The six-time Ballon d’Or winner, wept on Sunday as he bade farewell to his boyhood team, after the club said it could no longer afford to keep him, blaming La Liga’s fair play rules.

The PSG frontline is already formidable, with Messi’s former Barca team mate Neymar and young France striker Kylian Mbappe seen as two of the best players on the planet.

But the arrival of Messi, Barca’s all-time record scorer with 682 goals, will boost the club’s ambitions to win a first ever Champions League.

Messi is the latest big-name arrival at PSG on a free transfer this summer after coach Mauricio Pochettino’s side snapped up Spanish defender Sergio Ramos after he left Real Madrid. Dutch midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum also joined after running down his contract with Liverpool.

Italy’s Euro 2020-winning goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma has also joined after his contract with AC Milan ran out, while Moroccan fullback Achraf Hakimi joined from Inter Milan for a reported 60 million euros ($70 million).

The arrival of Messi, whose last contract with Barca was worth a total of 555 million euros and reported to be the most lucrative in world sport, is also set to provoke a renewed new debate about UEFA’s financial fair play rules.

The rules were first introduced in 2009 to restrict some of the worst excesses of the game but have been criticised by some leading figures for being ineffective.

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