September 22, 2021

Lionel Messi arrival at PSG means ‘Mbappe has no choice now but to stay’ says president Nasser Al-Khelaifi


Paris Saint-Germain unveiled Lionel Messi to great fanfare at Parc des Princes on Wednesday with Chairman and CEO Nasser Al-Khelaifi taking the opportunity not only to introduce the new star, but also to apply pressure on Kylian Mbappe over his future.

PARIS — The France international is into the final 12 months of his contract with Real Madrid heavily linked but the arrival of legendary Argentine Messi makes a strong argument that PSG have fulfilled Mbappe’s public requests for as strong a squad as possible to match his ambitions.

“I think we have the most competitive team,” said Al-Khelaifi during the press conference. “Now there is no choice for Kylian but to stay here in Paris.

“We are very proud. Leo is the only player to win six Ballon d’Or titles. I am speaking from the bottom of my heart. Thank you to everybody for making this happen and bringing the best player in the world here. The hard work starts now.”

On the topic of Financial Fair Play, Al-Khelaifi insisted that Messi’s signing has taken the measures into account and was also optimist that the 34-year-old’s arrival is good news for Ligue 1 as a competition after some difficult months economically.

“We are and always have been attentive to FFP,” said the Qatari boss. “It is always the first thing we check when signing somebody. I think you, the media, need to focus on the positives and not just the negatives of these moves. The numbers in just three days will shock you.

“I hope Leo does not ask for a raise! We hope that Ligue 1 will receive a boost on the TV rights front. We are working for the league and the city, as well as the club. I also want to thank the LFP.”

Messi himself was delighted with the move and admitted that Neymar and Head Coach Mauricio Pochettino played significant roles in bringing him to the French capital in a “hard, quick and emotional week” for what he hopes will be further UEFA Champions League success.

“Everyone knows how hard it was to leave Barcelona,” said Messi. I am absolutely loving my time in Paris so far. I am very grateful that such complicated negotiations were made so easy. Truly. I feel this club is ready to fight for every title.

“The team here is incredible. There have been some amazing signings. This will be an unbelievable experience for me. I do not know when I will first be able to play and I might need some preseason conditioning first.

“My goal and my dream is to win the Champions League once more. I think that we have the team to do it here. I will give my best to achieve our goals. I am still as happy as I was when I was starting out as a kid. I am still that kid.”

Messi admitted that he has followed former teammates’ progress in France and was attracted by Ligue 1’s developing reputation and the chance to play alongside the likes of former Barca target Marco Verratti.

“Of course, Marco is showing what a great player he is,” he said. “He was wanted in Barcelona, but now it is the reverse, and it is me coming to him in Paris. Not only Marco, but the dressing room is also full of the best players in the world.

“I have a lot of friends playing here in Ligue 1 and I have followed their games. This is a growing competition. I look forward to the new rivalries, stadiums and atmospheres.”

Messi is unlikely to be in contention to feature against RC Strasbourg Alsace in Ligue 1 this weekend, but is very likely to be introduced to the Parc des Princes crowd with no capacity limits in place as his carnival arrival continues.





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