Messi’s shocking exit from Barcelona last week gave way to the Argentina captain signing with Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday evening, and the forward was officially unveiled by the French club in a press conference on Wednesday morning.
While addressing media for the first time since his arrival at the Ligue 1 side, Messi addressed the opportunity to team up with Neymar once more, having previously played with the Brazil winger between 2013 and 2017.
“[To play with Neymar and Kylian Mbappe] is really crazy and I am really happy about that,” said Messi, 34, who joined PSG on a two-year contract with the option of a third season.
“Sharing the day-to-day life with them and the squad, the team is incredible and I really want to train and compete now because I am going to be playing with the best players.
“[Angel] Di Maria, [Leandro] Parades, I know all of the teammates in the dressing room, we had contact and Neymar of course did a lot and was important in my decision.”
Messi spent more than two decades at Barcelona but was forced to leave the Spanish club after they were unable to accommodate his wages under La Liga rules. Messi said he had offered to reduce his wage by 50 per cent, but – because his contract at Barca ran out this summer – the club would have been unable to register the Argentine as a new player anyway.
“My exit from Barca was very hard after so many years,” Messi said on Wednesday. “Everything that happened to me in the last week was hard, and fast, too. It was emotional, changed from one day to the next, so many feelings. Nobody can be prepared for that.
“I cannot forget what I lived and experienced in Barcelona, but I am excited about this new stage for my career and my family. As soon as I arrived here I was so happy, so motivated, so excited. It has happened so fast, but I am enjoying it so much.
“The squad and coaches here are capable of winning everything, which is my objective. I still want to win, as I wanted in the first moment of my career.”
Messi admitted he does not expect his debut to come against Strasbourg in the French top flight on Saturday.
“I don’t know,” the 34-year-old said. “I was on holiday [after winning the Copa America with Argentina]... I spoke to the [technical] staff, maybe I need a pre-season.
“I hope I can play as soon as possible... when the staff think I am okay, then I’ll be ready.”
Addressing a potential match-up with Barcelona in the Champions League, Messi said: “I don’t know if we will face Barcelona, it would be very nice to go back, hopefully with fans [in the stadium].
“It would be very strange to play at home, there in Barcelona, in another shirt, but it could happen.”
PSG are still chasing an elusive Champions League trophy, having fallen at the semi-final stage last season after eliminating Barcelona in the last 16. One year earlier, the club lost in the final against Bayern Munich.
“This team is ready [to win the Champions League],” Messi insisted. “There are some new transfers, but they have been close and are ready.”
Domestically, PSG’s stranglehold on the Ligue 1 title was broken by Lille last season.
“I’ve been following, and I know Ligue 1 because of my friends,” Messi said. “This league has been growing a lot... it’s more competitive, all the teams are getting stronger because they want to beat PSG.”
Messi said of the PSG fans, who had gathered outside the club’s stadium on Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning: “I am really grateful to the people in the street. I was in Barcelona when the press told me about that and I have seen things from Spain and people were already out in the streets. It is incredible.
“I want to thank them and I want to see them in the city and the stadium. It will be an incredible year.”
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