In his role as director of sport, Leonardo contributed to a fellow South American joining him in the French capital, with plenty of positives taken despite Messi’s struggles to produce his best during an 11-goal debut campaign at Parc des Princes.
Were PSG shocked that Messi became available?
Leonardo told L’Equipe : “We had thought about it a lot, yes. We had talked about it, but Messi had never thought too much about leaving Barcelona.
“It was the last moments before his arrival that were decisive. Afterwards, everything becomes a bit more normal but, you made Messi’s only transfer in his career!
“Chronologically, there is Pele, Maradona, Messi. He is on Olympus. So when I take stock of my three years, I see a Champions League final, a semi-final, the 10th league title, seven national trophies and I signed Messi.”
6 goals. 14 assists.
Lionel Messi's first season in Ligue 1 is complete 🇫🇷 pic.twitter.com/yDHtxwI7Nh
— GOAL (@goal) May 21, 2022
Leonardo went on to add of his fondest memories at PSG: “There are two very significant moments for me, even if I don’t like to pick out the best.
“The first is the signing, on the same day, of [Marco] Verratti and [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic (in 2012). It was no coincidence that a youngster from the Italian second division and a world football star arrived at the same time. The second is Messi. These are two huge dates.”
Was Leonardo forced out of PSG?
While enjoying plenty of highs during his time at PSG, Leonardo now finds himself out of work.
There have been suggestions that he was forced out on the back of Kylian Mbappe signing a new contract with the Ligue 1 title holders, with a World Cup-winning France international allegedly calling for change on and off the field.
Leonardo insists that was not the case, saying: “It was the end of the season and maybe it was the time to decide things for the future.
“I wasn’t told that, but I don’t want to get into that kind of thing. The fact that they’ve managed to hold on to that player, a Frenchman and a Parisian, is important for PSG and for Ligue 1.
“Certain things which are said internally should stay that way. It’s what I’ve experienced with the club. When the club wants to get rid of you, there’s no nice way to say it’s over.”