Lionel Messi had wept as he bade farewell to his boyhood team, describing his feelings at being told he had to leave as like having “a bucket of cold water poured over me”.
However, the 35-year-old has joined a star-studded Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday after leaving Barcelona. Mess has signed a two-year contract with the option for a third season.
“I am excited to begin a new chapter of my career at Paris Saint-Germain,” PSG quoted Messi as saying.
“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,” he added.
The arrival of Barcelona’s record scorer, with 672 goals, will boost Qatari-owned PSG’s ambitions to win the prestigious, and lucrative, European Champions League for the first time.
“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,” PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi said.
PSG wasted little time in targeting Messi after the heavily indebted Catalan club made clear it could not afford to keep him because of La Liga’s financial fair play rules.
Crowds of supporters thronged to the club’s Parc des Princes stadium, chanting and setting off smoke flares.
It is symbolic that Messi will wear the No. 30 jersey — the same number he wore in his first two seasons with Barcelona before switching to No. 19 and then the prized No. 10, which Neymar gets to keep at PSG.
Messi arrived in Paris on a private jet earlier in the day with his wife and three children, waving to hundreds of supporters gathered outside the airport before being whisked to a private hospital for a medical. He later waved to dozens of fans who had assembled beneath the balcony of his hotel room.
Neymar and Mbappe were already the two most expensive soccer players in history, and the addition of Messi to Mauricio Pochettino’s PSG line-up could rival the unstoppable triumvirate that he formed at Barcelona with Neymar and Luis Suarez.
Messi, who won four Champions Leagues and 10 domestic league titles with Barcelona, joins several other big names arriving at PSG on a free transfer this summer.
Spain defender Sergio Ramos was no longer wanted at Real Madrid, Dutch midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum had run down his contract with Liverpool and Italy’s Euro 2020-winning goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma also joined after his contract with AC Milan ran out.