Messi is pronounced the same as Messie, the French word for Messiah – and you could be forgiven for confusing the two after seeing the media circus around the Argentina captain’s transfer to the French club.
Paris newspaper Le Parisien was even updating a live blog on Tuesday tracking Messi’s arrival in the capital, after reports he was due to arrive on Monday turned out to be false.
While many PSG fans were waiting for Messi outside Le Bourget airport, people on social media chose to see the funny side of the story. As often in France, many of the best comments took the form of autodérision (self-deprecation).
Satirical news website Le Gorafi wrote, “Lionel Messi has decided to turn down PSG after all, having discovering Paris real estate prices”.
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Lionel Messi refuse finalement le PSG en découvrant le prix de l’immobilier parisien https://t.co/XnidUEjzHs
— Gorafi Sports (@GorafiSports) August 10, 2021
Indeed, house prices in Paris are enough to make anyone have second thoughts – if the Argentine wants to own your own his own piece of the capital, he’ll have to shell out on average almost €10,000 per square metre, with prices rising even higher in the most sought-after districts. Although for a footballer rumoured to have agreed a deal worth €35 million net per year, we don’t think he’ll be losing any sleep.
Editor-in-chief of Konbini Sports Lucie Bacon offered an alternative explanation for the delay: “According to my information, small blockage in the contract: Messi preferred to receive physical restaurant vouchers each month, but PSG have been opting for the Edenred card for several months.”
Selon mes infos, petit blocage concernant un point crucial du contrat : Messi préfèrerait chaque mois recevoir des tickets resto en version papier mais le PSG priorise depuis plusieurs mois l'utilisation d'une carte Edenred
— Lucie 🥓 (@LucieBacon) August 10, 2021
It’s common for private sector workers in France to receive tickets resto (meal vouchers) in addition to their monthly salary, and these are a much-loved institution in France. Traditionally these come in a booklet, but these days more and more companies are choosing to use electronic vouchers via companies such as Edenred.
But one of the company’s rivals was quick to set the record straight, saying, “PSG actually uses Swile card”.
— Benjamin Beno (@Mr_beno) August 10, 2021
A third hypothesis: “Lionel Messi is supposedly hesitating after discovering the dilapidated state of the city of Paris under Annie Dingo.” Annie Dingo is a slightly derogatory nickname given to Mayor Anne Hidalgo by her critics, since dingo is derived from dingue (crazy) it roughly translates as ‘crazy Annie’. This journalist used #Saccageparis (Trashed Paris) to poke fun at those on social media who constantly use the hashtag to criticise Hidalgo for the state of the city.
Lionel Messi hésiterait après avoir découvert l'état de délabrement de la ville de Paris depuis la mandature de Annie Dingo 😡😡😡 #Saccageparis
— Dimitri L'hours (@DimitriLhours) August 10, 2021
Messi may have been a free agent after leaving Barcelona, but this tweet proposed an agreement with the Spanish club: “In exchange for Lionel Messi, France says it is ready to give Manuel Valls to the people of Barcelona.”
🔴 URGENT En échange de Lionel #Messi, la France se déclare prête à rendre Manuel Valls aux Barcelonais.
— Olivier Varlan (@VarlanOlivier) August 6, 2021
Spanish-born former French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has been a much-derided figure since leaving the government, particularly after a failed attempt to run for mayor of Barcelona.
Others have speculated about whether the global superstar could boost the government’s vaccination campaign: “Messi will allow Macron to get all football fans who want to see him live to accept the health pass lol”
Messi va permettre à Macron de faire accepter le pass sanitaire à tous les fans de foot voulant le voir au stade mdr
— Skaime (@Skaime11) August 6, 2021
The French health passport is needed for all large gatherings including football matches, so those who want to travel to Parc des Princes to see Messi playing will have to either get vaccinated or get tested.
Another Twitter user imagined President Macron’s face “after siphoning off 3/4 of Messi’s salary in taxes”. Although in reality, France’s highest income tax rate is only 45 percent.
Macron après avoir pompe le 3/4 du salaire de Messi pour les impôts pic.twitter.com/q51mzCsnbU
— ANTI MBAPPE (@sparoxxe) August 8, 2021
On a more serious note, Olympic athlete Cléopatre Darleux asked why the front page of L’Equipe sports newspaper was dedicated to Messi’s possible arrival, when she and her teammates had just won gold in the women’s handball final in Tokyo. She said, “History is repeating itself… don’t we deserve the front page?”
— Cléopatre darleux (@CleoDarleux) August 9, 2021