Lionel Messi and Barcelona are simultaneous – one cannot be thought without the other and since the Argentine star started to become an enigma at Camp Nou – Barcelona and Messi became the same for everyone. It was unthinkable for everyone that Messi would leave Camp Nou one day, but the inevitable happened this year and to the astonishment of each and everyone, Messi donned the short of Paris Saint-Germain (PSG).
La une de France Football de ce samedi avec la liste des nommés du Ballon d'Or / France Football front page for this month, including the 2021 Ballon d'Or nominations
— France Football #BallondOr (@francefootball) October 6, 2021
With his contract having expired, though, Messi was left having to look for another club as Barcelona were, despite all things being agreed for a renewal, unable to offer their ex-captain a deal due to their financial state.
“I didn’t expect it at all,” Messi said in an interview with France Football this week.
“In my head, I was going to go [back to Barcelona], sign and start training straight away.”
“I thought that everything was set and I just needed to sign it. But when I got there, they told me that it wasn’t possible anymore. They told me that I couldn’t stay and that I’d have to find a new club because they couldn’t renew my contract. It changed my plans.”
“It was extremely difficult to accept. To think that we were going to have to leave our home, the family were going to have their routines turned upside down, the kids were going to have to change schools and come with us to a completely new place.”
? Leo Messi among the 30 finalists for the #BallondOr.
Good luck, Leo! pic.twitter.com/9itM1twOWV
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) October 8, 2021
“It was the first time that this had happened in my career. I had decided that I was going to end my career with Barcelona. It was difficult, but we passed the test together. A lot of things went through my mind, but I had no choice but to leave.”
Messi then went to PSG, where he can continue to dream of winning the Champions League alongside Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, as well as international teammate Angel Di Maria.
“PSG offered me the chance to join,” Messi said.
“I had other offers, but I have to admit that it was a pretty quick agreement with PSG. It wasn’t easy because everything had to be done quickly, practically overnight.”
“I was seduced by the project, the club’s ambitions, the players they had, the group. All of those things made it easier to reach an agreement. That [having friends at the club in Neymar and Di Maria] was important because I knew I was going to a new country and I had to start from scratch.”
“I knew I had friends in the dressing room, which made it easier to adapt. At the Copa America, they kept asking me if I was going to join them, but always in jest because they knew I wanted to stay at Barcelona. So, for them, it was a surprise when I said I was going to PSG.”
Lionel Messi posting what is probably his first selfie, ever. pic.twitter.com/tBdA35she3
— Roy Nemer (@RoyNemer) October 7, 2021
Messi has made no secret about his desire to win the Champions League again, having not won it since 2015, when he was playing alongside Luis Suarez and Neymar at Barcelona.
Nobody has ever won more Ballon d’Ors than Messi’s six, but he doesn’t feel as though he’s the favourite this year.
“I don’t think I’m the favourite and I’ve never liked talking about it until the result is in,” Messi said.
“It would be great to win another one, it’s already amazing to be the only player to have won six.”
“A seventh would be incredible. This past summer I won a trophy that was missing in Copa America and that was the pinnacle for me. If I go on to win another Ballon d’Or, I’ll be very happy and very grateful, but I’m not thinking about it.”
“It’s everyone’s dream here,” Messi said.
Just Messi things ? pic.twitter.com/l4Yb80Clfd
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) October 8, 2021
“The club has been working towards that goal for a few years and have been getting closer. From a personal point of view, it’s the same for me.”
“I would love to win the Champions League again, as I said at Barcelona. It’s a great, difficult competition to win. But this group of players has what it takes.”
“It’s true that it’s PSG’s main focus, but there are other strong teams like Chelsea, the Manchester teams, Real Madrid, Inter, Bayern Munich. They’re all great teams.”
“We have great individuals, but we are still getting to know each other and building a team. To win important trophies you have to play as a team. That’s why I think we’re a step behind these other clubs because they have more experience as a collective than we do.”
“In my team, there are at least two players for whom I’ll vote in Kylian and Ney. Then [Robert] Lewandowski, who has had a great year. But there’s also [Karim] Benzema.”
“We know that trophies are important now. The Champions League, the European Championship and the Copa America always weigh heavily in the vote.”