Paris St Germain are confident signing Lionel Messi would be profitable in the long run and hope to complete a deal within a week, the PA news agency understands.
Barcelona announced on Thursday night that the Argentina superstar would be leaving the Nou Camp, with financial restrictions preventing them from offering him a new contract.
LaLiga has a salary cap, calculated based on a club’s financial health, which was reduced in November in the wake of the financial pressures caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, and Barca have been hit hard.
PSG were understood to initially be of the view that a deal could not be done when the announcement came, but sources close to the matter say a direct approach from Messi to PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino later on Thursday changed the dynamic.
Overnight the French club undertook a commercial analysis and determined that signing Messi would work within the confines of Financial Fair Play rules.
The personal connection between Messi and fellow Argentinian Pochettino and the fact the deal is a free transfer are both factors in PSG pursuing the deal.
They believe Messi’s signing would drive up their commercial revenues, both in Europe and in South America should he link up with Brazilian star Neymar.
The French club had been in contact with Barcelona earlier in the summer regarding Messi but thought the chance to sign him had passed when it was indicated he would be staying in Catalonia.
Barcelona president Joan Laporta would not be drawn on Messi’s next destination after being specifically asked if he was aware of PSG’s interest.
❝𝗟𝗲𝗼 𝘄𝗮𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗱 𝘁𝗼 𝘀𝘁𝗮𝘆.❞— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) August 6, 2021
“Whatever he does is up to him, you’ll have to ask him,” he said. “I will not answer that.
“I don’t know that – but it is always being said they (PSG) have options.”
Speaking at a press conference to explain Messi’s shock departure, Laporta said keeping the six-time Ballon d’Or winner would have put the club at risk “for the next 50 years”.
He also revealed Messi was even offered a five-year contract in a bid to stay within the spending limits.
He added: “We had been negotiating for two months. The first agreement was to sign for two years and pay him over a five-year period. Then we moved on to a five-year contract, which Leo also accepted.
“The negotiation with Messi is over. The agreements could not be formalised. There is no salary margin and LaLiga is not flexible in terms of extending that limit. We have to move on.
“The club has over 100 years of history and is above any player, even the best in history, to whom we will be eternally grateful.”
Laporta laid the blame for Messi’s departure squarely on the shoulders of the previous regime at the club.
The 59-year-old returned as Barca president in March having pledged to ensure the forward, who scored 672 goals in 778 appearances during a glittering 17-year career, stayed at the Nou Camp.
He said: “Is anyone guilty of this? I don’t want to go on about the inheritance and the awful decisions that were made in the past but we have had less than six months.
“The situation is even worse than we expected. We have gone from bad to worse.
“I said the negotiations were going well because I thought LaLiga would be more flexible with fair play and Messi behaved in an exceptional manner. That’s why I said things were going well.
“We couldn’t go on with this and we needed to make a decision.”
Laporta also revealed that Barcelona’s wage bill is now down from 110 per cent of their income to 95 per cent following Messi’s exit.
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