Lionel Messi: The inside story of Paris St-Germain forward's first months in France

Posted 1 month ago 06 Oct 2021 by ameenu

When 150,000 Lionel Messi shirts went on sale on Paris St-Germain's website the day his signing was announced, they were gone within seven minutes.

PSG have been here before, when Neymar signed about four years earlier, but it's fair to say even they were surprised by the excitement that has greeted the arrival of Argentine superstar Messi.

That defeat at Rennes aside, the only teething problems for Messi so far have come off the pitch.

The Argentine was less than impressed that details of his contract and wages were revealed on the front cover of French newspaper L'Equipe. In Spain it took years for his salary to be leaked, in France it took less than two months - although the report is said to have been inaccurate.

Added to that is an irritating soap opera developing around the Messi family's search for a property in Paris. The local press have frequently featured interviews with estate agents and property experts pontificating as to what type of home they are looking to buy.

In Spain it was always all about the football and while it was always known where he lived, his family's privacy was respected.

In France it is looking like becoming a different story and he is not happy with the intrusion, not least because it represents a potential security threat.

Living with his family in a hotel - albeit an extremely luxurious and spacious one - is far from ideal, although it has to be said that Pochettino still does the same.

The family's main objective is to settle as soon as possible, although that is easier said than done because there are not many properties in Paris that can offer the garden and expansive outdoor living they enjoyed at their home in Castelldefels on the outskirts of Barcelona.

At the moment they occasionally take walks around parks near their hotel, always accompanied by security. But the search for a home is almost done, and trying to put everything in place is Messi's wife Antonela.

It is impossible to overstate her role, not just as a partner and mother of their children, but also as best friend, confidante and, in a situation like this, a fundamental component in ensuring everything runs as smoothly as possible.

Messi first met Antonela Roccuzzo, a fellow native of Rosario, when he was just five years old. She is the cousin of his childhood best friend Lucas Scaglia, who is also a footballer.

The couple, together since 2008, are inseparable. Messi has been quick to say the hardest thing about making the decision to come to Paris was telling first his wife then his children about the move.

But in Antonela he has his rock, the pillar of strength that keeps the family strong and stable. The idea he would ever have contemplated the move without the total support of his soulmate and his children that he adores is unthinkable.

Perhaps conscious of the notion that the "fruit never falls far from the tree", Messi's two oldest children train twice a week with PSG's young sides, and Antonella has taken charge of that. She also takes the children to and from school and spends time with some of her personal projects: sponsorships, partnerships and endorsements for herself, as well as being active on social media.

When the family look out of their hotel window the chances are they will be able to see some of the many supporters who still gather there, although the initial wave of euphoria has at least calmed to the extent that the fences put in place to keep the hordes at bay have now been removed.

But "Messimania" shows no sign of abating in Paris more broadly. When I walked into the club shop with the intention of buying either a home or away PSG Messi shirt on the day of the game against Manchester City, they had sold out.

His goal in that game - and the promise of many more to come - means we should be in for quite a ride.


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