Messi says still lost in France but joining PSG was no mistake

The 34-year-old joined Paris St Germain after being told by the Catalan club they could not afford to keep him.

PSG''s Lionel Messi strokes his chin during the warm-up before the Champions League Group A soccer match between Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City at the Parc des Princes in Paris, Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021
Messi, who started his professional career with Barca, is their record scorer with 672 goals [Christophe Ena/AP]

Lionel Messi has admitted he still feels a little lost in France but also insists that he made no mistake by joining Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) in a stunning summer transfer.

The 34-year-old added that having to leave Barcelona came as a shock but familiar faces have helped him to settle at PSG.

Messi, who started his professional career with Barca and is their record scorer with 672 goals, joined PSG on a two-year deal in the summer transfer window after being told by the Catalan club 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,” added the six-times Ballon d’Or winner.

On Friday, Barcelona’s president Joan Laporta said he had hoped Messi would have stayed and “play for free”.

The president said this was something they could not have asked a player of his “stature”, but that he would “have liked it”.

Last year, after telling the club he wanted to leave, Messi made a late u-turn and decided to see out the remainder of his contract that ended earlier this year.

During the transition to Paris, Messi was reunited with Neymar at PSG, after he and the Brazilian played together for four seasons at Barcelona, and joined compatriots Leandro Paredes and Angel Di Maria and coach Mauricio Pochettino, also an Argentine.

“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,” said Messi.

“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.”

The player has also admitted that adjusting to life in Paris, in general, has not been that easy.

“I must admit that I am still a little bit lost,” he said. “I must get to know the city to find my way around a little easier. I had my habits in Barcelona, I know every area, I often went to the same places.”

Messi, his wife and their three children are yet to find a home and are living in a hotel. He said his sons are starting to teach him French as they are quickly picking up the new language in school.

“They are better than me in that,” said Messi.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies