Lionel Messi will be unveiled as a Paris Saint-Germain player on Wednesday after agreeing a two-year deal with the French club.
The 34-year-old Argentine was greeted by thousands of supporters at Le Bourget Airport in Paris on Tuesday after flying over from Spain with his father and agent Jorge to complete a medical. When asked by reporters whether his son would be joining PSG, Jorge answered “yes".
A news conference will take place at the Parc des Princes stadium on Wednesday at 11am (1pm UAE time) and the six-time Ballon d'Or winner will be officially announced as PSG's superstar new signing — barring any last-minute glitch with the medical.
He will have the option of a further season in France and is expected to earn £25 million ($34.6m) per year after tax, plus bonuses, as well receiving a £25m signing-on fee.
Messi has left Barcelona after being told by the Spanish club that they could no longer afford his wages — even after agreeing to take a 50 per cent pay cut — due to La Liga's financial fair play rules.
He is both Barca’s record goalscorer and top appearance maker of all time, with 672 goals from 778 matches, winning four Champions Leagues and 10 La Liga titles along the way — and 35 trophies in total. Messi scored 474 goals in La Liga, including 36 hat-tricks, and has notched 123 times in European competitions.
At a tearful press conference on Sunday, Messi admitted that he had no choice but to leave the club he joined at the age of 13. “I wanted to stay. I did everything I could,” he said. “This year, my family and I were convinced we were going to stay at home, that's what we all wanted more than anything.
“There have been so many beautiful moments here, and a few bad ones, painful defeats. But the affection I have felt from the people, the supporters here, has always been the same.
“We'd always made this our own, we were at home. We thought we would be staying here in Barcelona. But today, we have to say goodbye to all of this.”
But his trophy-laden spell with the Catalan giants is over and he will join his former Barca teammate Neymar at PSG and is set to form a fearsome three-pronged attack alongside another superstar striker in France international Kylian Mbappe.
Neymar welcomed Messi to Paris and posted a video of the pair together with the caption “back together” on Instagram. The pair won two La Liga titles, three Copa del Reys and the Champions League during their time together at Barcelona.
PSG have already signed Inter Milan right-back Achraf Hakimi for €60m ($71m), as well as bringing in several big-name players who were out of contract in Spanish defender Sergio Ramos, Dutch midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum and Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.
In August 2017, PSG made Neymar and Mbappe the two most expensive signings in history. Now they have Messi. “Every coach in the world would like to have the best player in the world in their team,” admitted manager and countryman Mauricio Pochettino.
Pochettino has at his disposal a squad capable of ruling Europe, with the team's 2020 Champions League final defeat to Bayern Munich the closest they have come to achieving the dream of their Qatari owners.
A team that was beaten to the Ligue 1 title by Lille last season but who in the previous two seasons reached a Champions League final and semi-final, now appear well set to land a first European Cup.
It is over to Pochettino to accommodate them all, and the likes of Angel di Maria, and find the right balance to take the team to the pinnacle of world football.