Sport New era dawns as Messi seals PSG switch
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New era dawns as Messi seals PSG switch

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Lionel Messi has signed with Paris Saint-Germain to complete the move that confirms the end of a career-long association with Barcelona.

Lionel Messi’s departure from Barcelona is official as the six-time winner Ballon d’Or vowed to “help build something special” at Paris Saint-Germain after launching a new phase of his illustrious career in France.

Messi has signed a two-year contract with an option for a third year at PSG – reportedly worth 35 million euros ($A56 million) per season – after his tear-jerking exit from the Nou Camp, where he had begun and expected to end his glittering career.

The move will add the Argentine, arguably the best player of his generation and of all-time, to an already formidable PSG attack that includes Brazil’s Neymar and French World Cup winner Kylian Mbappe.

“I am excited to begin a new chapter of my career at Paris Saint-Germain,” Messi said on Tuesday.

“I am determined to help build something special for the club and the fans, and I am looking forward to stepping out onto the pitch at the Parc des Princes.”

Messi will wear the No. 30 shirt, the club confirmed in a video posted on its Twitter feed, headlined “a new diamond in Paris”.

The arrival of Barcelona’s record scorer, with 672 goals, will boost Qatari-owned PSG’s ambitions to win the prestigious, and lucrative, European Champions League for the first time.

“He has made no secret of his desire to continue competing at the very highest level and winning trophies, and naturally our ambition as a club is to do the same,” PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi said.

PSG wasted little time in targeting Messi after heavily indebted Catalan giants Barca made clear they could not afford to keep the 34-year-old because of La Liga’s financial fair play rules.

Messi arrived in Paris on a private jet on Tuesday with his wife and three children, waving to hundreds of supporters gathered outside the airport before being whisked to a private hospital for a medical.

He later waved to fans who had assembled beneath the balcony of his hotel room.

Only two days before, Messi had wept as he farewelled his boyhood team, describing his feelings at being told he had to leave as like having “a bucket of cold water poured over me”.

However, he said he wanted to carry on competing and that he still harboured ambitions to win another Champions League trophy.

Neymar and Mbappe were already the two most expensive soccer players in history, and the addition of Messi to Mauricio Pochettino’s PSG line-up could rival the unstoppable triumvirate that he formed at Barcelona with Neymar and Luis Suarez.

“Back together,” Neymar, who will retain PSG’s No. 10 jersey, posted on Instagram over a video of him and Messi hugging, playing for Barcelona.

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.

The arrival of Messi, whose last four-year contract with Barcelona was worth a total of 555 million euros ($A885 million) and reported to be the most lucrative in world sport, is set to provoke a renewed new debate about UEFA’s financial fair play rules.

Soccer’s European governing body introduced the rules in 2009 in an attempt to restrict the power of free-spending owners to buy success, but their success is debatable.

-AAP