BUENOS AIRES (AFP) – Argentines reacted with joy and pride when their national idol Lionel Messi arrived in France on Tuesday August 10 ahead of his scheduled transfer to Paris Saint-Germain after two decades in Barcelona.
The South American country is perhaps 11,000 kilometers from Paris but the Argentines were glued to their screens following the latest developments of the most famous world No. 10.
“Messi and the day of the 10th: he arrived and revolutionized Paris!” sports newspaper Ole said, referring to the day of the month and Messi’s shirt number.
While Barcelona fans may be mourning the loss of their star and PSG diehards rejoice, Argentines have seen the gesture of the six-time Ballon d’Or winner in a positive light.
“He arrived at the end of his cycle in Barcelona and it’s good to broaden his horizons,” JosÃ© Iturria, a 60-year-old health worker in Buenos Aires, told AFP.
“The truth is he deserves the best because he’s the best player in the world.”
Messi joins other stars in Paris such as French striker Kylian Mbappe, Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, Spain center-back Sergio Ramos and Brazil’s Neymar.
Dario Luque, 38, said his new club will give Messi “a change of scenery and as he will be surrounded by more starsâ¦ it will be good for him and for the team”.
“It won’t be the same”
Speaking to Argentine channel C5N, Argentine Ambassador to France Leonardo Constatino said among Argentines in France “there is great pride. Everyone is delighted and it is very exciting.
“We are lucky to have the best player in the world in Paris.”
Constatino said he had received “many calls” from people wishing to meet Messi.
Argentina’s football association produced an emotional video circulating on social media titled “Chin up champion” which began with Messi crying during his farewell press conference in Barcelona.
âThe most amazing thing is that no Argentinian will ever give up on you, go where you go,â said the video which featured scenes from Messi’s career and family life.
Last month, Messi inspired Argentina to victory in the Copa America to end the country’s 27-year wait for a major trophy.
“PSG are a team full of (major) personalities and Leo keeps saying he wants to continue to achieve things, this is the ideal team for him,” said Elvio Paolorosso, former physiotherapist with the ‘Argentina and Barcelona, ââon AM 550 radio.
He said Argentina’s PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino would help Messi settle in.
“The city, the language will be a problem for the family but for him it is one of the best teams at the moment, as well as having an Argentinian coach who will make things easier.”
“It won’t be the same to see Barcelona without you,” Javier Mascherano, the former Argentina international midfielder who spent eight years at Barcelona alongside Messi, wrote on Instagram.
“This is the start of a new phase and there is no doubt that you will leave your indelible mark wherever you want to go. Always the best.”