Lionel Messi tells CNN that Paris Saint-Germain is the “ideal” place for him to win the UEFA Champions League once again.
The Argentine superstar signed a two-year contract at the French club on Tuesday, ending his 19-year spell at Barcelona.
Speaking to CNN Sport’s Amanda Davies, Messi stressed that both his and his new club’s ambitions are aligned – to win the trophy that has so far eluded PSG and which Messi himself has won four times.
“I am aware of my background and the objective this club has – fighting for a while to win a Champions League, and it was close the last few years,” he told CNN.
“For me on a personal level, I would love to win another Champions, like I’ve said in previous years, and I think I’ve come to the ideal place that’s ready for that. We have the same goals. It’s got impressive players, one of the best squads in the world and, hopefully, we can achieve that goal which Paris wants so much, I want so much and hopefully we can enjoy it with the people of Paris too.”
Just a few days earlier, Messi was in tears during an emotional farewell press conference at Barcelona, the club at which he came through in European football and flourished.
During his time with the Catalan giants, Messi won ten Spanish league titles, as well as six Ballon d’Or honors.
Although he admitted in his press conference that his departure from Barcelona was “very hard,” he also said that he was “very happy” at his new club and looking forward to the future.
“The truth is, it’s hard to put into words what I’ve had to live through this week,” Messi told Amanda Davies.
“It was really difficult what happened with Barcelona – saying farewell after being there my whole life in one place. And after three days – without forgetting what happened – everything changed. I was living with a lot of doubt, a lot of nerves, a lot of anticipation that this would happen and well … a lot of excitement and desire to get started.
“It was a really special arrival, the welcome from the people who welcomed me, who came out onto the streets. I’m very excited to start this new era that I’m going to live and I’m ready to start my new life here in Paris.”
Upon leaving Barcelona, Messi admitted that his friends at PSG – including his former Barça teammate Neymar and fellow Argentinians Ángel Di María and Leandro Paredes – ultimately helped his decision to come to the “City of Lights.”
Messi’s arrival in Paris forms a frightening front three alongside Neymar and French superstar Kylian Mbappé. And the prospect of lining up alongside those two fellow superstars excites the 34-year-old.
“It’s crazy to be able to share day-to-day life with them, with all the squad, there are some amazing transfers (that have happened this summer), and I really want to train and compete now because I’m going to be playing with the best players,” added Messi.
However, there have been rumors linking 22-year-old Mbappé with a move away from the Parc des Princes, although PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi hopes Messi’s arrival will convince him to stay.
“I think everybody knows the future of Kylian, he wants to win, he wants to win trophies,” said Al-Khelaifi.
“He said it in public, he wants to have a competitive team and we have the most competitive in the world. There is no excuse for him now – he can’t do anything else but stay.”
Within the rules
With so many high-profile, expensive players in the PSG squad, the question of how the club can afford another superstar player and still remain within UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations was put to Al-Khelaifi.
However, when asked by a journalist how the club could afford to sign Messi, Al-Khelaifi said the club would not promise something they couldn’t do within the rules.
He explained the club would remain in the regulations “from day one until the end.”
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Khelaifi said the deal would be of benefit not just for PSG but for the city of Paris as well as the French league from a sporting and commercial perspective, among others.
“I hope Leo will not ask for a greater salary,” Al-Khelaifi joked.
Al-Khelaifi told CNN that it has been “heaven already” since Messi agreed to sign with PSG, pointing to the impact his arrival has already had on the club, without even having made an appearance.
“I mean, I’m not going to tell you even the numbers the sponsors offer us today. It’s something unbelievable,” he told CNN Sport.
“If you also see our social media, we used to have 35 million and now we have 42 million. In even less than three days. It’s amazing. I know the last two years were a crisis with Covid-19, but I believe in one thing: each crisis is an opportunity.
“And we signed four players for free and the value of those four players plus (Achraf) Hakimi increased the assets of the club to almost $3 billion. It’s fantastic. People don’t recognize this, they don’t know that but I think they should know, those who question our financial capacity.”