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Messi arrival in France set to invigorate Ligue 1

Argentina icon joins star-studded PSG

Lionel Messi arrives in Paris to join Paris St Germain - Paris, France - August 10, 2021.
Lionel Messi arrives in Paris to join Paris St Germain - Paris, France - August 10, 2021.
Image: Yves Herman

Barelona – Lionel Messi arrived at Barcelona airport yesterday on his way to France where he is going to join Paris Saint Germain (PSG) after his shock departure from the Spanish club he joined as a schoolboy.

Reuters reporters saw the Argentine and his father and agent arrive at the airport after French newspaper L'Equipe and Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo said the player had reached an agreement to join PSG on a two-year deal.

Messi, who established himself as one of the world's greatest footballers during a glittering stay at Barcelona, was expected to arrive in the French capital late yesterday, L'Equipe said.

Messi, 34, holds goal-scoring records for both Argentina and Barcelona.

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 teammate 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 60m (R1bn).

The arrival of Messi, whose last contract with Barca was worth a total of 555m 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.

The arrival of Messi, who has 245 million followers on Instagram and is Barcelona's most decorated player of all time, is also welcome news for France's Ligue 1, embroiled in a crisis over TV rights. 

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