Paris Saint-Germain coach, Mauricio Pochettino, has revealed he thought club sporting director Leonardo was playing a joke on him when he was first told that Lionel Messi’s signing was possible.
Messi joined PSG as a free agent on August 10, days after Barcelona announced they were unable to register the six-time Ballon d’Or winner’s new contract because of financial constraints.
“Leonardo called me and said: ‘The possibility is there. Would you like it or not?’ The good thing is that he called me to ask. I said to myself: ‘Is it a question?’ I thought it was a joke, no? Of course,” Pochettino said.
“I told him: ‘Do we have to go and get him? Do I have to drive the van?’ And that is when the negotiation started. From then on Leonardo would call me every night to tell me how the situation was.”
Messi, 34, had agreed a new five-year contract with Barca, with his previous deal having expired on June 30. However, that contract would have meant Barca’s wage bill would stand at 110% of their revenue.
“Everyone had assumed that Messi would continue at Barcelona,” Pochettino said.
“Many clubs, if not all clubs, dreamt of having Messi, with him being a free agent. From the moment that PSG showed an interest, Leo wanted to come here. Everything happened very fast. We must highlight the work done by Leonardo, by our president and all the club executives that in two or three days were able to complete the signing of the best player in the world.”
Leonardo, PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaïfi and club executives, meanwhile, are still working on convincing Kylian Mbappe to remain at the club beyond next summer when his contract expires.
“Who can’t think that PSG wouldn’t want him [Mbappe] to continue here for many more years?” Pochettino added.