Lionel Messi has agreed to join Paris Saint-Germain on a two-year contract.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner arrived in Paris on Tuesday afternoon to seal his move to the French club on a two-year deal – with an option for a third – worth £25m per year after tax, plus bonuses.
The French club posted a twitter video teasing his arrival, accompanied by the words “New diamond in Paris”, with a press conference scheduled for Wednesday morning.
Messi – who will receive a £25m signing-on fee as part of the move – was set to extend his 21-year stay at Barcelona by signing a new five-year deal this summer.
However, the club announced on Thursday that “financial and structural obstacles” meant the deal could not be completed, meaning Messi left as a free agent.
The 34-year-old said he wanted to stay at Barcelona and “did everything” he could to remain at the club, including agreeing to a 50-per-cent wage cut.
However, Barcelona are hamstrung by La Liga’s rules on club spending and even halving Messi’s pay was not enough to ensure he remained at the Nou Camp.
Messi had two other options after leaving Barcelona last week but has opted to join PSG, with their potential to compete for major trophies – including the Champions League – understood to be a key factor in his decision to move to France.
Messi is also believed to be keen to reunite with Neymar, with whom he won two La Liga titles, three Copa del Reys and the Champions League during their time together at Barcelona.
Asked about a move to PSG at his farewell press conference last weekend, Messi said: “That is one possibility, to reach those heights.
“I had a lot of calls, a lot of interested clubs. At the moment, nothing is closed, but we are talking about a lot of things.”
Tearful Messi bids Barca farewell
Messi said he did not want to leave Barcelona in an emotional farewell news conference on Sunday.
Messi was in tears as he received a standing ovation in his final Barcelona press conference to announce the end of his 21 years with the club.
Barcelona confirmed Messi’s departure on Thursday night, the same day he returned to Catalonia following his post-Copa America holiday.
Messi had travelled to Barcelona expecting to agree on the details of the announcement of his new five-year deal, and he confirmed he offered to reduce his wages by 50 per cent.
“This year, my family and I were convinced we were going to stay at home, that’s what we all wanted more than anything,” said Messi.
“We’d always made this our own, we were at home. We thought we would be staying here in Barcelona. But today, we have to say goodbye to all of this.”
‘Messi will bring Champions League glory to PSG’
Aston Villa goalkeeper and international teammate Emi Martinez believes Messi can improve those around him and will be the player to finally lead PSG to Champions League glory.
Martinez, who won the Copa America alongside Messi with Argentina this summer, said: “The move is a shock, but I think it will be good for him to have a new challenge.
“I have no doubt he will end up top scorer in the French league and win the Champions League.
“He makes me better in training, when he beats four players and scores it makes you want to be better for the team too.
“He told me one game ‘you need to come for crosses’, so when Lionel Messi tells you to do that you would run to the other pitch to stop the cross.
“Whatever he says, everyone does it. He is such an influencer. The whole Argentina team would die for him – not just me – and that is why we won the tournament in the summer – for the first time in a long time.”
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