Paris Fans Cheer Their New Star

Soccer great Lionel Messi is introduced but doesn't play yet for his new team
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 14, 2021 4:35 PM CDT
Paris Fans Cheer Their New Star
Paris Saint-Germain's Achraf Hakimi, left; Georginio Wijnaldum, second left; Gianluigi Donnarumma, center; Sergio Ramos, second right, and Lionel Messi stand during introductions Saturday in Paris.   (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

Lionel Messi wasn't in the lineup Saturday in Paris, but he was made to feel at home by fans. The newly acquired soccer great was introduced before Paris Saint-Germain's 4-2 victory over Strasbourg, the Sporting News reports. After receiving a standing ovation from the 49,000 fans at Parc des Princes stadium—with fans chanting "Leo Messi, Leo Messi," per the AP—the star took the microphone. "It was a very special week for me," said Messi, who signed Tuesday. He thanked fans for the "incredible" welcome. "I'm so happy to be here and happy for this new phase in my career," he added.

Former Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos stood on the podium with his longtime rival Messi, who spent 17 years with Barcelona, and applauded. Messi signed a two-year contract with Paris Saint-Germain after negotiations with Barcelona broke down, leaving him in tears. He hasn't played in a game in a month, after taking a vacation, so he has to get in match shape before taking the pitch for his new team. Messi's new coach said they'll take it step by step. "The priority is that he's good, that he's feeling good, and when he's in the best condition he can debut," his coach said. (More Lionel Messi stories.)

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