Paris Saint-Germain are prepared to offer Lionel Messi a three-year contract to move to the French capital, sources have told ESPN, and feel a deal is close after positive initial talks with Messi's representatives.
Earlier on Friday, PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino confirmed that signing the 34-year-old "was a possibility," and sources have told ESPN that further negotiations with Messi's father and agent, Jorge, are planned for Monday, or possibly sooner.
Messi will hold a farewell news conference on Sunday at 12 p.m. CET (6 a.m. ET) at the Camp Nou, the club have announced.
Sources told ESPN that PSG reached out to Messi on Thursday following the unexpected announcement from Barca that he would not be signing a new deal with them. PSG sporting director Leonardo and chairman Nasser al Khelaifi are heavily involved in the discussions with Messi, having been in contact with his father, Jorge, for some time. PSG had been working on an offer to Messi for months, on the off-chance that a deal could happen.
On Saturday, sources told ESPN that Messi's lawyers arrived in Nice, France, to hold talks over the transfer and finalise the details. Messi's father Jorge will arrive later Saturday or on Sunday.
Speaking at a news conference ahead of PSG's opening game of the Ligue 1 season, Pochettino confirmed that information. "Of course [signing Messi] is a possibility," he said. "The club is working on it and if there is any information we will communicate it as soon as possible."
Sources added that Messi joining PSG would increase the likelihood of Mbappe, who is out of contract next summer, signing a new long-term deal with the club. This would damage Real Madrid's hopes of signing the 22-year-old on a free transfer next summer.
PSG have long been vocal about their wishes to sign Messi since he announced in August 2020 that he wanted to leave Camp Nou. Sources have told ESPN that while on holiday in Ibiza with Messi, PSG's Neymar was pushing him to join the club. Messi also had conversations with Angel Di Maria, Leandro Paredes and Marco Verratti on the matter.
PSG owner Tamim bin Hamad is eager to bring Messi to the club, and sources have told ESPN that he is being kept informed of all the conversations. Bin Hamad has been keen to sign either Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo since he bought the club in 2011.
However, there will be heavy financial implications for PSG should they manage to entice Messi to the club. While he is a free agent after running down his contract with Barca, the 34-year-old would still command a large contract in terms of wages, commissions, a signing-on fee and bonuses.
Barcelona president Joan Laporta on Friday said he doesn't want to generate false hope over the chances of Messi returning and added that no one is bigger than the club.
"I don't want to generate false hope," Laporta said. "During the course of negotiations, we've known of other offers for Messi. There was a time limit, for us and for them, because they need time.
"The leagues are starting. I am not willing to mortgage the club for 50 years for anybody. The decision is made, there is no more margin and the reason is financial fair play. We have a limit when it comes to player salaries."