Lionel Messi is “on Olympus” as one of the greatest players in history, and former Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo cannot believe he brought the star to Ligue 1.
Leonardo left at the end of the 2021-22 campaign, with former Monaco and Lille coach Luis Campos joining the Ligue 1 champions as a football advisor.
Coach Mauricio Pochettino is also expected to look out the door after failing to play in the UEFA Champions League, which is a jewel in the eyes of PSG owners Qatar Sports Investments (QSI).
However, Pochettino and Leonardo managed to bring Argentina’s biggest Messi to Paris at the start of the season, finishing 17 years with Barcelona.
Messi is ranked only behind Kylian Mbappe (45) in PSG’s Ligue 1 scoring, and the former is one of 20 points ahead of Neymar, who was the last of the top three.
Only Mbappe (70) created more chances than Messi (63), but the first year of the Blaugrana veteran in the French capital was considered somewhat unfortunate, with only six goals scored in the top flight.
However, Leonardo has expressed happiness at receiving the services of the 34-year-old and his success with PSG.
“We thought a lot, yes. We’ve talked about it, but Messi never really thought about leaving Barcelona,” he told L’Equipe.
“It was the last time before his arrival that we decided. After that, everything became normal but he made only the transfer of Messi to his job!
“In chronological order, there are Pele, Maradona, Messi. He is in Olympus.
“So when I look back on my past three years, I see the Champions League final, the semi-finals, the 10th league title, seven world cups and I signed for Messi.
“There are two important moments for me, though I do not want to make the best choice. The first was, on the same day, by [Marco] Verratti and [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic [in 2012].
“It ‘s not just a coincidence that a young Italian second and world champion arrived at the same time. The second Messi. These are two big days.”
Mbappe has rejected Real Madrid’s offer to extend his stay with PSG, signing a lucrative three-year deal.
Reports indicate that the winner of the World Cup has been given media guarantees inside and outside the stadium.
While Leonardo is gone and Pochettino seems to be following suit, the first suggests that he did not know if Mbappe’s contract covered these clauses.
“It was the end of the season and maybe it was time to decide the future,” he added. “I was not told that, but I do not want to get into that.
“The fact that they were able to hold on to that player, who is French and Paris, is important to PSG and Ligue 1.
“Some of the things that are said inside should stay that way. That’s what I’ve experienced with the team. If the team wants to get rid of it, there’s no good way to say it’s over.”