Sport Lionel Messi targets Champions League title with Paris Saint-Germain
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Lionel Messi targets Champions League title with Paris Saint-Germain

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Lionel Messi is dreaming of winning the Champions League again as he starts a new and unexpected chapter in his career with Paris Saint-Germain.

Securing PSG’s 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.

The six-times Ballon d’Or winner’s arrival gives PSG formidable attacking options as he links up with France World Cup winner Kylian Mbappe and Brazil forward Neymar.

Messi, who won 34 titles in 16 seasons with Barca, including four Champions League and 10 La Liga crowns, joins several other big names arriving at PSG on a free transfer this summer.

Spain defender Sergio Ramos was no longer wanted at Real Madrid, Dutch midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum had run down his contract with Liverpool and Italy’s Euro 2020-winning goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma also joined after his contract with AC Milan ran out.

“I’m going to play with best players, it’s very nice. It’s incredible to be able to experience this,” Messi said.

Al-Khelaifi, chairman of PSG’s ownership group Qatari Sports Investments, defended the club’s continued massive spending since they took over in 2011.

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.”

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 is drawn with the Blaugrana 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.”

-AAP