Lionel Messi is dreaming of winning the Champions League again as he starts a new and unexpected chapter in his career with Paris St Germain.
Securing an elusive first triumph in Europe’s elite club competition will be the immediate target for the Argentina forward, who has won it four times with Barcelona, and his expensively assembled team-mates in a side which finished second in Ligue 1 last season.
However, president Nasser Al-Khelaifi also hopes his marquee signing will have a longer-term impact by persuading the in-demand Kylian Mbappe to stay, with the 22-year-old France international in the final 11 months of his contract.
“I feel this club is ready to fight for all the trophies. This is my goal, I want to keep growing and keep winning titles and that is why I came to this club,” Messi, who has signed a two-year deal with the option of a third, told a press conference at the Parc de Princes.
“I can help by giving it my all. I’ll say this: my dream is to once again lift the Champions League trophy.
“I love to win. I want to have important goals. I know that my goals and PSG’s goals are the same and want to be bigger and bigger.
“I will give my best to achieve these goals. I am really impatient, I still want to win, as I did the first moment of my career.”
Al-Khelaifi believes Messi’s arrival sends an important message both externally and internally, effectively telling Mbappe to sign a new contract.
“He (Mbappe) wanted a competitive team and I think we have the most competitive in the world so there is no excuse for him now, he can’t do anything else but stay,” he said.
Al-Khelaifi, chairman of PSG’s ownership group Qatari Sports Investments, defended the club’s continued massive spending – estimated to be more than £1billion since they took over in 2011 – with Messi on a reported £570,000 a week.
“I hope Leo won’t ask for more salary,” he said.
“We talk to financial and legal people, you see we sign Lionel Messi – that means we can sign him.
“What you as a media need to focus is not only the negative side but the positive side he will bring to the club.
“Through it all we look at Financial Fair Play and always we will fulfil Financial Fair Play regulations.”
For Messi, however, the focus is all on football.
“What I can say today is that I have the same will and same enthusiasm as when I was a kid. I still feel like this kid. I will give my best to achieve these goals,” he said.
“I love to win. I want to have important goals. I know that my goals and PSG’s goals are the same and want to be bigger and bigger.”
The move sees Messi link up with his compatriot Mauricio Pochettino, who was appointed PSG head coach in January 2021, just over a year after being sacked by Tottenham.
“I know the coach very well,” the six-time world player of the year said. “The fact that he is Argentinian helped from the start – it was important in my decision-making.”
Messi’s departure from Barcelona, announced on Thursday, and the confirmation of his arrival at PSG on Tuesday was a whirlwind period which the 34-year-old admits was a “very hard moment after so many years”.
Such is his association with the Catalan city, his home for more than 20 years, the diminutive forward has already considered the prospect of having to face Barcelona if PSG are drawn against them in the Champions League.
“Barcelona is my home, I have been there since I was a kid and I’ve lived so many things there,” he said.
“I don’t know if we are going to face each other – it would be very nice to go back to Barcelona.
“It will be very strange to play at home there in Barcelona with another shirt but it can happen and we will see.”
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