One man’s loss is another one’s gain. The latter, in the case of a certain Lionel Messi, seems to Mauricio Pochettino, the Paris Saint-Germain coach. The Argentine star finally bid farewell to Barcelona, and is on the verge of signing on the dotted line for PSG, if reports are to be believed.
The formal contract has, reportedly, been given to Messi’s team, which is examining it. Once the deal is finalised, Messi would be flying to Paris to complete the formalities. Such is the frenzy over his imminent arrival at the French club, that, amid reports Messi had flown to Paris on Sunday for a meeting, several hundred PSG fans waited outside Le Bourget airport, to the north of Paris, which is often used by PSG and the national team.
Messi would become the biggest star to arrive at Parc des Princes since cash-rich Qatari owners QSI took over the club 10 years ago. His arrival would surpass even the fanfare of Neymar’s world-record signing for 222 million euros ($261 million) from Barcelona in 2017, or Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s brazenly self-promoting presentation by the Eiffel Tower in 2012.
PSG have never won a Ballon d’Or, let alone the record six Messi has.
The superstar’s staggering tally of 672 goals for Barca includes an extraordinary 50-goal season in 2012; 96 league goals and a remarkable 133 overall across 2012 and 2013; eight Spanish league and six Champions League scoring titles.
Not to mention four Champions League trophies with Barcelona, a record 91 goals in a calendar year for club and country, and a Copa America title with Argentina.
Even Messi’s age – he’s 34 – will have little impact on the huge anticipation that his arrival would generate within French football and beyond.
The immediate fallout for the club would be to manage its finances. There are already reports that PSG would sell or loan out some of their players to accommodate Messi’s paycheck. His compatriot and striker Mauro Icardi is one of the names doing the rounds. There are also others like Abdou Diallo, Idrissa Gueye, Rafinha and Ander Herrera who the club may look to offload.
The next ‘headache’ for Pochettino would be find space for Messi in the attack which includes Neymar, France’s World Cup star Kylian Mbappe, Copa America match-winner Angel Di Maria and Icardi. But that’s for another day.