Football news: Hundreds of football fans have gathered at Paris Airport-Le Bourget ahead of the expected arrival of Lionel Messi to sign for the club, who are rumored to have hired the Eiffel Tower for the legendary striker’s official unveiling.
PSG supporters have also mobbed the entrance to the French giants’ Parc des Princes home, reacting to rumors that departing Barcelona icon Messi was on a flight to formally complete his shock move.
Other accounts claimed that supporters had been outside the stadium since the early morning while speculating that Messi is yet to leave his beloved Barcelona because the switch has not been finalized.
Barca all-time top scorer Messi is said to have been offered a salary in the region of $59 million after tax by Paris, and any formal announcement would be unlikely to happen before the Argentina hero has completed medical checks with the Ligue 1 heavyweights.
“Lionel Messi is currently not in Paris and he’s not landed anywhere,” tweeted transfer oracle Fabrizio Romano, dashing the hopes of the crowds clamoring to catch a glimpse of one of the world’s best players.
“He’s at his home with his family. Messi’s lawyers and his father, Jorge, are still working on PSG’s official contract and paperwork, received yesterday. He’ll fly to Paris once the deal is completed.”
Rumors began at the weekend that the 2020 Champions League finalists have booked the country’s best-known landmark, the Eiffel Tower, for magician Messi’s first public appearance as their player.
That would repeat the stunt with which Neymar was unveiled when he became the most expensive player in the world in 2017, with PSG thought to have followed up the $270 million signing by spending more than $350,000 to secure the Eiffel Tower for the occasion.
Sweden superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic also took part in a photoshoot at the Eiffel Tower after joining PSG in 2012.
A memorable reception could help to ease Messi’s pain at leaving the club where he has spent his entire career.
The Barca captain held a tearful press conference at the Liga side’s Camp Nou stadium on Sunday, admitting that he had wanted to stay in Spain but had been forced to leave due to the club being unable to keep him as a result of their financial predicament and league rules around spending.
Paris playmaker Neymar, who played with Messi at Barcelona and posed with him after Argentina won the Copa America by beating Brazil last month, reportedly may have influenced Messi’s move by lending his ear to the 34-year-old when it became clear that Barca had to let him leave.
The sight of a mass of fans watching his every move in an off-the-pitch event will be familiar to Messi, who was surrounded by supporters as he made his way to the Camp Nou for his emotional farewell address.
Many of them have continued to gather at the stadium and Barcelona’s training base, holding banners lamenting the disastrous exit of arguably their greatest ever player.
One fan is even reported to have launched legal action against Paris, claiming that the former top-flight champions are acting outside of competition fair play rules by making the sensational move.
Despite confessing that he had planned their future in Barcelona, Messi is now expected to set up home in France with his wife, Antonela Roccuzzo, and their three children.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side went behind in their league opener at Troyes on Saturday before recovering to win 2-1. They are at home to Strasbourg on Saturday.
Barcelona beat Juventus 3-0 in the Joan Gamper Trophy yesterday and begin their Liga season at home to Real Sociedad on Sunday.