October 09, (THEWILL) – Lionel Messi admitted that having to leave Barcelona was a shock, but that familiar faces have helped him adjust comfortably at Paris Saint Germain.
The 34-year-old, who began his professional career with Barcelona and is the club’s all-time leading scorer with 672 goals, signed a two-year deal with PSG after the Catalan club told him they could not afford to keep him.
“I came back to Barcelona (from the Copa America in July) to prepare for the season, after taking advantage of the extra days of vacation that the coach (Ronald Koeman) had given me,” Messi told France Football in an interview released on Saturday.
“I had in mind to sign my contract and to start training right away. I thought that everything was settled and that all that was missing was my signature (on the contract).
“But when I arrived in Barcelona, I was told that it was no longer possible, that I could not stay and that I had to find another club, because Barca could not afford to extend my contract. That changed my plans.
“It was extremely hard to take. To think that we would have to leave our home and that the family would have to change its routine,” the Argentine icon admitted.
Messi was reunited with Neymar at PSG after four seasons together at Barcelona from 2013 to 2017, and joined compatriots Leandro Paredes and Angel Di Maria, as well as Argentine coach Mauricio Pochettino.
Messi revealed that their presence in France helped his choice. “That was a big part of my decision because I knew I was coming to a new country and had to start from scratch. Knowing that I had friends in the dressing room made me think that things would be easier to adapt to.
“And I was not wrong, because it was very easy to settle, especially because there are many players who speak Spanish, like me, and some friends like ‘Ney’, ‘Lea’ (Paredes), ‘Fideo’ (Di Maria), who helped me when I arrived.”
Messi is seeking his fifth Champions League trophy after the “very painful” experience of leaving Barca, where he joined at the age of 13. So far, he has only been able to score one goal in five appearances in all competitions for the Ligue 1 side.
Messi, along with Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, constitute one of the world’s most dangerous offensive teams, but he recognises the need to find the right balance. While Neymar and Messi have known each other for years, Mbappe and the Argentine still need to get to know each other.
“With a player like him, it’s easy to get along. Also, Kylian speaks perfect Spanish, so we have good exchanges off the pitch as well,” Messi said. “It makes things easier. Now, I’ve only been here a short time, so it’s still a bit early to draw conclusions. But I’m sure it will work out well.”