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'Hurt to See Him in Another Team's Shirt': Players React as Lionel Messi Joins PSG

Soccer Football - Lionel Messi arrives in Paris to join Paris St Germain - Paris, France - August 10, 2021 Lionel Messi arrives at the Royal Monceau Hotel
© REUTERS / SARAH MEYSSONNIER

Football mega star Lionel Messi's 21-year-old association with Barcelona came to an abrupt end last week after the Spanish giants failed to register his contract due to La Liga's stringent Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules.

A day after Lionel Messi officially signed a two-year contract with France's Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), several footballers including his former Barca teammates Xavi and Andres Iniesta have reacted to the Argentine's big move.

They admitted that it will be "hard" to see Messi in a PSG shirt and that his Barca exit has "hurt" them. 

Moreover, Iniesta said that the 34-year-old's departure is a huge blow to Barca and it will take the club some time to recover. 

"I don't know what happened internally, nor how things unfolded, but the club will need to recover from this transfer," Iniesta told French media on Wednesday.

"It will hurt to see him in another team's shirt. Leo personifies Barcelona. He was everything, he's a player who transcends the team. I've never seen a player like him and I don't think I ever will. [Barcelona] will continue to be one of the best teams, one of those that has to be on the summit," he added.

Xavi is also emotional about Messi's Barcelona exit.

"It's a pity to see he and the club couldn't find a solution," he told British newspaper The Times on Wednesday. "I know that Leo wanted to stay, but in the end it could not be sorted. The only thing I can say now is that I will miss him a lot."

"It's even hard for me to picture Messi with a shirt other than Barca's. It's sad for Leo, especially for how I saw him emotionally at the Camp Nou the other day, but for FC Barcelona as well."

Alongside Messi, Xavi and Iniesta formed a formidable midfield for Barca for almost a decade, leading the club to multiple trophies, including seven La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues.

While Iniesta left the La Liga side for Japan's Vissel Kobe in 2018, Xavi exited Barca before him in 2015 to join Qatari club Al Sadd.

However, unlike the duo, PSG striker Neymar – who spent four seasons with Messi at Camp Nou – is delighted to reunite with his friend at the Parc des Princes.

The Brazilian posted the message "back together" on his Instagram to welcome Messi to the French capital. They forged a friendship at Barcelona and were part of the famous "MSN" trio alongside Uruguayan international Luis Suarez. 

© Photo : Instagram/neymarjr
A screenshot of Neymar's Instagram story

Just like at Barcelona, Neymar will be hoping to form what could be the world's most lethal attack in club football, with French striker Kylian Mbappe completing the trio. 

Thousands of PSG fans also joined Neymar in welcoming the Argentine in Paris. 

Six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi, who won a club-record 35 trophies with Barcelona, signed a stunning $41 million a-year deal with PSG on Tuesday.

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