Lionel Messi has declared his love for Paris, both on and off the pitch, which could be a significant blow to Barcelona and their hopes of re-signing the seven time Ballon d’Or winner.
Messi was forced to leave Camp Nou in 2021 as a result of the club’s dire financial situation making it impossible to register his already agreed contract with La Liga.
Messi had spent 21 years with Barcelona at that point, which made adjusting to a new club in a new country quite difficult. As such, his debut season with PSG was disappointing by his usual standards and yielded his lowest goal tally (11 in all competitions) since being a teenager.
But the 35-year-old has found his feet at PSG so far in 2022/23 – he has already surpassed his goal tally from the whole of the previous campaign in only 19 games. He also has 14 assists.
I like Paris much more, I discover the city and I find it magnificent,” Messi revealed in a YouTube interview for CONMEBOL ahead of the World Cup.
“In the first year, there was a big change. Things happened very suddenly, it was not my goal to leave Barcelona and everything was abrupt. After this long period and difficult times, I'm happy to live where I live and my family and I are enjoying Paris.”
Discussing the very sudden nature of the move, Messi added, “It was hard, we stayed in the same place our whole lives, I had never moved and I did not know what it was like to leave [Barcelona].
“We did not expect this, it happened very quickly and we had to leave Barcelona overnight tomorrow. We find ourselves in a new environment. We had our life in Barcelona, our friends, our customs, and we found ourselves in a different place, with another language, another football, another climate, I suffered a lot because of that.
“It was difficult. But, today, I enjoy everything, including football.”
Barcelona president Joan Laporta has spoken openly in recent months about his desire to take Messi back to Camp Nou, describing the club as having a ‘moral debt’ to the player but referring to the parting of ways as ‘provisional’ and insisting he wants Messi to retire at Barcelona.
Vice-president Eduard Romeu had said only last month: “We know how to make miracles happen.”
Messi is in the second season of a two-year contract at PSG that contains an option for a third.
90min revealed at the end of last month that he won’t be rushed into a decision on his future, with MLS clubs Inter Miami and LA Galaxy both holding an interest. Playing in North America is something Messi has previously confirmed he would be open to.
Laporta’s latest comments in the saga in just the last few days appeared to be a slight step back from his previously confident statements.
“Little kids are always asking me for Messi to return to Barça. I tell them, ‘We'll see’. He's at PSG now and I don't want to get into controversies,” he said during a visit to Colombia.
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