Lionel Messi has spoken directly with Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino as he moves closer to joining the French club after leaving Barcelona.
PSG are expected to offer Messi a two-year deal next week, worth £25m a year after tax with the option of a further year. The 34-year-old and his father Jorge are braced for the arrival of the offer this weekend.
Messi, who will hold a news conference at the Nou Camp on Sunday, left Barcelona after the La Liga club were unable to fulfil a new contract that had been agreed with the player due to “financial and structural obstacles”.
PSG, managed by Messi’s compatriot Pochettino, quickly emerged as the frontrunners for his signature, in a move that would reunite him with former Barcelona team-mate Neymar.
Messi is open to joining PSG, but he and his representatives want to take time to assess their options following his shock exit from the Nou Camp.
PSG believe they have a good chance of completing a deal and can afford to sign him without breaking any Financial Fair Play rules.
Gianluigi Donnarumma, Sergio Ramos and Georginio Wijnaldum have already arrived at the Parc des Princes on free transfers this summer.
Messi, the six-time Ballon d’Or winner, had officially been a free agent since July 1 after he failed to agree terms over a renewal before his previous Barca contract expired on June 30.
Messi had spent his entire career at Barcelona, coming through the club’s academy before going on to score 672 goals in 778 appearances after making his senior debut in 2003.
Analysis: Questions asked of FFP compliance
Sky Sports’ Kaveh Solhekol:
Lionel Messi moving to Paris will raise French football’s profile around the world but serious questions will be asked about PSG’s ability to operate within financial fair play (FFP) rules.
French clubs have been hit extremely hard by the pandemic. Ligue 1 and 2 did not finish their seasons after they were suspended in March last year and the LFP’s €800m-a-year domestic broadcast deal with Mediapro collapsed four months into its first season.
Despite the problems in French football, PSG, backed by their Qatari owners, are confident they can balance their books by selling players and sign Messi without breaking FFP rules.
PSG’s wage bill of €414m in 2019/20 was more than three times that of the next richest club – Lyon’s wage annual bill was €132m.
PSG have already signed Achraf Hakimi from Inter Milan this summer for €60m and they have given big contracts to three players who were free agents – Gianluigi Donnarumma, Sergio Ramos and Georginio Wijnaldum.
They remain in talks with Kylian Mbappe about a contract extension – his current deal runs out next summer.
PSG signing Messi would make it extremely difficult for them to be able to afford to sign Paul Pogba from Manchester United this summer.
Any deal for Messi would also be a huge boost for Qatar as it prepares to host the World Cup next year.
Koeman bids farewell to ‘best in the world’ Messi
Aun es difícil de asimilar que no jugarás más en el @fcbarcelona. Gracias por todo lo que has hecho por el club Leo. He disfrutado mucho la temporada que hemos trabajado juntos. Estoy impresionado por tu ética de trabajo y tu deseo de ganar. pic.twitter.com/gjoEcOnOZA
— Ronald Koeman (@RonaldKoeman) August 7, 2021
Barcelona head coach Ronaldo Koeman said he is still struggling to come to terms with Messi’s departure from Catalonia as he left a parting message for the Argentina forward.
“It is still difficult to assimilate that you will not play for Barcelona any more,” he wrote in a post on Twitter.
“Thank you for all that you have done for the club, Leo. I have really enjoyed the season that we have worked together. I am impressed by your work ethic and your desire to win.
“This makes you the best player in the world. I wish you and your family all the best!”
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