Lionel Messi has revealed he has no regrets about swapping Barcelona for PSG and that he’s ‘very happy’ in the French capital, despite a relatively slow start to life in Ligue 1.
The Argentine shocked world football in August when he left Barcelona after 21 years with the Catalan giants – 16 of which in the first team – to move to PSG after the Blaugrana admitted they could not afford to keep him.
Barca president Joan Laporta revealed the club had recorded a £409 million loss last year, pushing the debt up to over £1 billion and forcing the club to part ways with arguably their greatest ever player.
Lionel Messi said he has no regrets about leaving Barcelona for PSG in the summer
‘Barca issued the statement saying that I was not going to continue and from that point on I started to wonder how I was going to bounce back,’ Messi told France Football.
‘I had to find a new club to continue my career.’
Laporta said that had Messi remained on Barcelona’s books, the club’s wage bill would have amounted to 110 percent of their income this season.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner had offered to take a 50 per cent pay cut to remain at the Nou Camp, but not even that would have eased Barcelona’s deep financial woes.
Messi bid Barcelona an emotional farewell, with the club unable to afford to keep him
The Argentine said he was ‘won over’ by PSG’s project before agreeing to the move
Messi immediately became the most sought-after free agent in football and revealed that while several clubs came knocking, it didn’t take long for him to be won over by PSG’s offer.
‘I was lucky to be contacted by several clubs including PSG.
‘I am grateful to the club because from the start they treated me very well,’ he explained. ‘They showed they really wanted me and took care of me.
Messi opened his account for PSG with a stunning goal in a 2-0 win over Manchester City
In Paris, the Argentine has been reunited with former Barcelona team-mate Neymar
LEO MESSI’S BARCELONA RECORD
Messi scored a club record 672 goals for Barca in 778 games across 16 seasons in the first team, winning a total of 35 major honours.
- LaLiga: 10 – (2004, 2005, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019)
- Champions League: 4 – (2006, 2009, 2011, 2015)
- UEFA Super Cup: 3 – (2009, 2011, 2015)
- FIFA Club World Cup: 3 – (2009, 2011, 2015)
- Copa del Rey: 7 – (2009, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2021)
- Spanish Super Cup: 8 – (2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2016, 2018)
‘I thank them because I am very happy today. I received other offers, but we came to an agreement with PSG quite quickly.
‘I was obviously won over by the project, the players it has, the quality of the group all these elements made it easier to find an agreement.’
Messi admits he’s going to have to toughen up if he’s to flourish in France after failing to find the net in his first month in Ligue 1.
‘Ligue 1 is a league which is much more physical than La Liga. ‘Here in Ligue 1 the teams seem more powerful to me. Most of the players are very strong.’
Messi has linked up with a strong Argentine contingent in the French capital, beginning with former Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino and his Albiceleste team-mates Angel di Maria and Mauro Icardi.
More importantly, he was also reunited with Neymar, whom he played with for four seasons at Barcelona, winning two LaLiga titles, the 2015 Champions League and three Spanish Cups.
‘Knowing that I had friends in the locker room allowed me to tell myself that things were going to be simple for me to adjust,’ Messi said.
‘And I was not wrong, because it was very easy to integrate myself, especially because there are many players who speak Spanish like me.’
Life in his new surroundings, however, has got off to a harder start than expected for Messi, who has played in just three of PSG’s nine league games so far and is yet to open his Ligue 1 account.
His only goal for his new club came in a 2-0 win over Manchester City in the Champions League.
Reuniting with Neymar — they were Barca team-mates for four seasons — alongside Kylian Mbappe in one of the most feared front lines in Europe, is more cause for optimism.
‘I’m sure it will work out well,’ Messi said. ‘With a player like Kylian, it’s easy to get along. Also, he speaks perfect Spanish.’
Messi’s comments come just a day after Laporta revealed that he hoped the Argentine would agree to play for Barcelona for free in order to remain at the Nou Camp.
Barca president Joan Laporta (left) hoped Messi would play for the club for free this season
‘Everything indicates that he already had the offer from PSG,’ he told Catalan radio station RAC1 via Mundo Deportivo.
‘Everyone knew that he had a very powerful offer. We knew that from Messi’s side they had a very good offer.
‘I did hope that at the last minute Messi would say he would play for free.
‘I would have liked that and he would have convinced me. I understand that the League would have accepted it. But we cannot ask that of a player of his level.’