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LIONEL MESSI PROMISES TO WIN CHAMPIONSHIPS TROPHIES FOR PSG


By William Adeyemi

Lionel Messi explains PSG decision and makes Champions League vow at official unveiling
Lionel Messi has faced the media for the first time as a Paris Saint-Germain player, following his official presentation in the French capital after his stunning move from Barcelona. Lionel Messi greets Paris crowds with a smile

Lionel Messi made clear he has moved to Paris Saint-Germain to win another Champions League crown after being officially unveiled on Wednesday following his shock switch from Barcelona to the French powerhouse.

The six-time Ballon d’Or winner became the biggest signing of the summer after completing the most surprising free transfer of all-time on Tuesday night.

The Argentine, 34, signed a two-year deal, with the option of an additional year, to move to the Parc des Princes after seeing his 21-year tenure at Barcelona brought to an end last week.

And he made it clear that he is ready to solve PSG’s European obsession, after their recent near misses.

“This club is ready to fight for all the trophies, this is my goal, to keep growing, keep winning titles and that’s why I’ve come here to this club.

“I’ll say this: My goal and my dream is to win the Champions League once more. I think Paris is the best place to do so. I think that we have the team to do it here. I hope we can make it happen.”

Lionel Messi received fascinating counter-offer just before agreeing to PSG transfer.

Reacting to the reason he left Barcelona he replied, “Everyone knows how hard it was to leave Barcelona. Everything that happened to me this last week has been very strange. It has been hard, it has been emotional.

“I cannot forget what I lived and experiences in Barcelona but I feel happy about this new life. I am very happy.

“I am very grateful that such complicated negotiations were made so easy. Truly. I feel this club is ready to fight for every title.”

Lionel Messi attends his unveiling at a press conference at the French football club Paris Saint-Germain.

PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi said: “I am proud to present Leo as a PSG player. It is an historic day for the club and the football world. Everybody knows Leo. He makes football magic, beautiful and he is a winner.

“It is very exciting for our fans worldwide.There was a great desire from both sides to make this happen. I would like to think Leo and your family for making this happen.

“This is just the start. The hard work will start now. I am sure he is going to bring us a lot of trophies.”

Lionel Messi salutes supporters gathered outside the Parc des Princes
Lionel Messi salutes supporters gathered outside the Parc des Princes

Messi’s move sees him unite with close friend Neymar – the world’s most expensive player and his former Barcelona teammate – and Kylian Mbappe, the highly-rated World Cup winner, at the tip of PSG’s frightening attack.

“It is really crazy and I am really happy about that,” said Messi when asked about playing with the pair.

“The team is incredible and I really want to train and compete now because I am going to be playing with the best players. It is an incredible experience for me.

“”We’ve got the same goals, when we were not together, we had the same goal and now we are together with Neymar and the rest of the team, I hope we can make it.

“Neymar did a lot and was important in my decision.”

Lionel Messi and president Nasser Al-Khelaifi pose with a shirt after the press conference. Messi will wear the No.30 shirt in Paris.

Speculation continues over Mbappe’s long-term future however, with his contract up at the end of the season and the 22-year-old so far refusing to re-sign in Paris.

Asked about his future, Al-Khelaifi punchily replied: “I think everybody knows the future of Kylian, people from Paris and the players. He is a really competitive player. He wants to win, he wants to win trophies, he said it in public.

“He wanted a competitive team and I think we have got the most competitive in the world. So there is no excuse for him now. He can’t do anything else but stay.”

He also dismissed suggestions signing Messi risks putting PSG in breach of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules.

PSG wasted little time in making their move after Barcelona publicly announced last Thursday that there was no other option but for him to leave Camp Nou amid the club’s dismal financial state, with Al-Khelaifi taking a prominent role in negotiations with Messi’s father, Jorge, to bring the player to Paris.

Messi himself phoned PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino to discuss a potential move: “I know the coach Mauricio Pochettino very well. The fact that he is Argentinian helped from the start, it was important in my decision making.”

Eventually, after a weekend involving negotiations largely centred over commercial issues – during which Neymar called and messaged to push him to join him in the French capital – Messi put pen to paper on a deal which will see him paid £29million (€35m) per season, as well as a £22million signing on fee.

After the signing was confirmed, Al-Khelaifi had said: “He [Messi] did not hide his desire to continue to evolve at the highest level and to win trophies. The ambition of the club is of course identical.”

That ambition has been showcased by the earlier summer arrivals of Messi’s long-time rival Sergio Ramos, the former Real Madrid captain, ex-Liverpool midfielder Gini Wijnaldum, Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donarumma and highly-rated fullback Achraf Hakimi.

Messi ultimately completed his switch after breaking down in tears at his Barcelona farewell press conference on Sunday.

Having arrived at Camp Nou as a 13-year-old, the club’s all-time record goalscorer, with 672 goals in 778 games, was effectively forced out due to the club’s financial mismanagement of recent years, despite wanting to stay.

“We were convinced we were continuing here, at home,” he said on Sunday. “I did all that I could to stay, because I wanted to stay.

“All I know is that it wasn’t to be because of the league, the club’s debt and the club didn’t want to get more into debt.”

Ultimately, not even offering to half his salary – by Spanish law, he could not go any lower than 50 per cent – wasn’t enough.

Now, reunited with Neymar, he will take centre stage in PSG’s pursuit of the Champions League, a trophy he has won four times during his career, most recently in 2015 when he and the Brazilian superstar were together in Catalunya

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