Leonardo, Paris Saint-Germain‘s sporting director, has confirmed that the club tried to get Lionel Messi to sign a pre-contract agreement before they were finally able to land him in August.
As Messi was into the last year of his contract at Barcelona he was able to begin negotiating with other clubs from January 1, and Leonardo has confirmed that PSG made contact with him after this point.
“I can’t hide the fact that we had contacted him before,” Leonardo told Canal Plus when asked about Messi‘s arrival.
“We spoke, but always after January, when he was six months away from the end of his contract. We never contacted him before January.”
In fact, before PSG faced Barcelona in the last 16 of the Champions League last season in March 2021, Joan Laporta was critical of Leonardo and the French club’s methods of trying to entice Messi to make the move to the Parc des Princes.
“PSG have disrespected Barcelona by talking publicly about Messi,” Laporta said.
“A player [Neymar and Angel Di Maria did] can publicly wish for the arrival of the best player of all time. A club cannot.
“Leonardo has made a mistake and I think he knows it.”
The PSG sporting director admits that he had reached a point where he thought Messi would stay at Barcelona, but once it became clear that they could not afford to keep him, the Argentine expressed his desire to make the move to the French capital.
“I think his idea was to stay at Barcelona and possibly retire there, but when it [became clear that it] was all over, the desire that he showed to come [to PSG] really motivated us to sign him,” Leonardo noted.
“Imagine a player like Messi in a Paris Saint-Germain shirt, it’s a huge thing.”