Lionel Messi has officially signed for French club Paris Saint-Germain, bringing his long-term association with FC Barcelona to an end.
The French giants said in a statement that the Argentine superstar is signing a two-year deal “with an option of a third year.”
“I am excited to begin a new chapter of my career at Paris Saint-Germain. Everything about the club matches my football ambitions,” Messi said in the statement. “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.”
Messi arrived in Paris earlier on Tuesday and the club teased his arrival on their social media channels with a short clip which briefly shows his Argentina shirt and the six Ballon d’Or trophies Messi has won throughout his career.
Neymar – who played with Messi at Barça and now stars for PSG – wrote on Instagram in a story: “Back Together.”
Barcelona last won the Champions League in 2015 when Messi and Neymar were playing together and PSG will hope the reunion of two of the world’s greatest players will help them secure Europe’s top tournament for the first time.
PSG Chairman and CEO Nasser Al-Khelaifi said in the statement, “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. 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 addition of Leo to our world class squad continues a very strategic and successful transfer window for the club. Led by our outstanding coach and his staff, I look forward to the team making history together for our fans all around the world.”
‘I gave my all’
Messi’s move to Paris brings his historic 20-plus-year spell at Barcelona to an end.
The Argentine, widely considered one of the best players of all-time, failed to sign a new contract with Barcelona.
Barcelona said the club’s dire financial situation and La Liga’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations meant it could not give Messi a new contract, despite both parties coming to an agreement.
The 34-year-old’s previous contract, which expired at the end of June, was revealed by Spanish newspaper El Mundo to be worth $672 million and made him the highest paid athlete in sports history.
Messi had expressed his desire to leave the Catalan club last year but decided to stay because he had no intention of disputing the club’s decision in court and dragging out a legal dispute.
In a tearful press conference on Sunday, the club’s all-time top goal scorer reflected on his career at Barcelona in which he won numerous major collective and individual awards, including four Champions League titles and 10 La Liga titles.
“I gave my all for this club for this shirt, from the first day I arrived to the last,” he said.
“And the truth is that I am more than satisfied. I would have liked to say goodbye in a different way. I never imagined my farewell this way.”