Excited Paris St Germain fans gathered at the Parc des Princes on Tuesday evening after the club issued a series of less than subtle hints that Argentina superstar Lionel Messi was about to sign.
The 34-year-old six-times Ballon d’Or winner, who bade an emotional farewell to Barcelona after 21 years on Sunday, had earlier been pictured in Paris, sending the club’s supporters into a frenzy.
Footage posted on social media later showed Messi arriving at the stadium and waving at the assembled fans.
Messi, who was out of contract, is understood to have travelled to the French capital to undergo a medical before signing a two-year deal which some reports have suggested will carry an annual salary of 35million euros, or £29.7million.
PSG started to tease their social media followers by posting a 13-second video clip on their Twitter account which featured what appeared to be a brief image of a footballer in an Argentina number 10 shirt and a picture of the PSG dressing room with an Argentinian flag hanging above a seat.
The footage was accompanied by the words, “New diamond in Paris”.
Then they tweeted another video clip showing six Ballons d’Or with the Eiffel Tower in the background, along with an egg timer emoji and later a third showing an Argentina flag hanging on a dressing room peg between former Barca team-mate Neymar’s number 10 shirt and the number seven worn by Kylian Mbappe.
PSG have called a press conference for Wednesday morning, although there was still no official confirmation of a signing which the player himself admitted was a possibility as he took his leave of the club he had joined as a 13-year-old at the weekend.
Messi had been pictured wearing a T-shirt with the club’s trademark “Ici c’est Paris” – This is Paris – on the front after flying over from Barcelona earlier in the day with his father and agent Jorge appearing to confirm the impending move when questioned by reporters at the airport in Catalonia.
The Argentina international’s wife Antonela also posted an update on her Instagram account which read, “All together towards a new adventure” alongside a picture of the couple on an aeroplane.
Barca stunned the football world on Thursday night when they announced that Messi, who scored 672 goals in 778 appearances for the Catalan side and played his part in the capture of 35 trophies, would be leaving.
Hopes that a new deal could be agreed – Messi insisted he wanted to stay and had offered to take a 50 per cent pay cut – had been high, but president Joan Laporta blamed LaLiga’s financial rules for the failure to do so.
PSG and Manchester City were swiftly touted as possible destinations and the big-spending Ligue 1 club, whose quest for a maiden Champions League success is ongoing, wasted little time in making their pitch.
A jubilant reception is guaranteed with Neymar having already appeared to issue his own welcome, posting on his Instagram account the words ‘Back together’ above a montage of the duo’s best goals and assists from their time together at the Nou Camp.
PSG have also signed big-name free agents Gianluigi Donnarumma, Sergio Ramos and Georginio Wijnaldum this summer to boost their challenge for European glory.
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