The 6 players PSG signed alongside Lionel Messi – & how they fared
PSG made a series of statement signings in the summer of 2021 – but none made as much noise as the arrival of Lionel Messi.
The Argentinian had waved a tearful goodbye to Barcelona, the only club he’d ever represented, after their financial difficulties meant he was unable to renew his contract at the Camp Nou.
It’s been a mixed couple of years for Messi, who will leave PSG when his current deal expires this summer.
The 35-year-old has recently been suspended by the club after missing training, while he was unable to deliver the Champions League it was hoped his signing would deliver – the Parisiens exited the competition at the round of 16 stage in back-to-back seasons.
But he did win the Ligue 1 title during his first year at the club, and he’s played a starring role as they look set to retain it in year two, having registered 15 goals and 15 assists in just 28 appearances in the French top flight this summer.
How about the other six players PSG brought in that summer? We’ve taken a look to see how they fared.
The Madrid-born Morocco international – a product of Real Madrid’s famous La Fabrica academy – underlined his reputation as one of the best full-backs in Europe during his one-season stint in Italy, in which he was outstanding as Antonio Conte’s Inter won the treble.
Hakimi was the biggest-money signing PSG made that summer, with a fee of €60million plus add-ons, the 24-year-old has largely lived up to the hype in Paris and looks at home at one of Europe’s elite clubs.
BEST RB IN THE WORLD.
GOOD NIGHT GUYS. 👋🏽
— Kylian Mbappé (@KMbappe) January 25, 2022
Versatile Portugal international Pereira can slot in in defence or at the base of midfield and he’s done both across his two years in the French capital so far.
He originally joined on a one-year loan from Porto and the obligation to complete a €16million permanent transfer went through the following summer.
The 31-year-old remains contracted at the Parc des Princes until 2025 and has been among the more outspoken critics of the squad’s too-casual mentality this season.
“We don’t respect the organization,” Pereira told Prime Video Sport France following defeat to Lyon in April, one of many PSG have suffered in the latter half of the 2022-23 campaign.
“We don’t give it our all. If we don’t give everything at home it will be difficult to win. We are going through a difficult phase, we have to wake up because our opponents are only 6 points away. We have to change a lot of things, but that’s not for me to say.”
Danilo’s Portugal team-mate Mendes also arrived in the summer of 2021 in a similar kind of deal – a loan from Sporting Lisbon that became a permanent move last summer.
The talented left-back originally caught the eye as a teenager in Sporting’s surprise 2020-21 title victory and his ascent has continued in Paris.
Mendes, 20, was nominated for Ligue 1’s Young Player of the Year award in his debut season – previously given to the likes of Thierry Henry, Franck Ribery, Eden Hazard and Kylian Mbappe – but he missed out to William Saliba.
This skill from Nuno Mendes 🤯
Completely ripped Gnabry and Goretzka 🙅#UCL pic.twitter.com/VlrRm9WPaE
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) February 14, 2023
During his latter years at Liverpool, Wijnaldum entered that Luka Modric zone of being-called-underrated-so-often-you’re-really-not-underrated-anymore.
The Netherlands international ran down his contract at Anfield and departed in search of a new challenge. Jurgen Klopp’s Reds still haven’t failed to adequately replace him.
Barcelona and Ronald Koeman thought they were getting their mits on Wijnaldum but PSG swooped in and got their man with an offer of a much more lucrative contract.
The midfielder struggled in Paris, with Mauricio Pochettino struggling to get the best out of him, and he’s since been loaned out to Jose Mourinho’s Roma – where his season (and participation at the World Cup) was severely hampered by a fractured tibia and a five-month lay-off.
The summer of 2021 was a fruitful one for Donnarumma – he shone as Italy won Euro 2020 and sealed a move to one of Europe’s top clubs.
The goalkeeper was only 22 when he moved to Paris, yet he’d already racked up over 200 appearances for boyhood club AC Milan.
Donnarumma has done reasonably well at PSG, albeit without setting the world alight, and has well and truly made the No.1 shirt his own by usurping Keylor Navas.
Milan won’t have any regrets, though. They won the Scudetto the year after Donnarumma left, have made it further than PSG in the Champions League, and have arguably upgraded on him with Mike Maignan – a PSG academy graduate. Ouch.
READ: A superb XI of players let go too soon by PSG: Maignan, Simons, Nkunku…
Four-time Champions League winner Ramos completed a quartet of high-profile free transfers along with Messi, Donnarumma and Wijnaldum. That’s four players who have won a combined nine Champions Leagues without paying a transfer fee.
The former Spain captain left Real Madrid in somewhat acrimonious circumstances after failing to agree a new contract deal with Florentino Perez. Los Blancos went on to win the Champions League without him, while Ramos was restricted to just eight starts in a frustrating injury-hit debut season with PSG.
Year two has been more fruitful for the 37-year-old, however, with a near ever-present role in their Ligue 1 campaign. Ramos is also out of contract in the summer and – along with Messi – has been tipped to make a move to Saudi Arabia for one last paycheque.
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