Leandro Paredes has revealed his shock over Lionel Messi's transfer U-turn, claiming that his Argentina team-mate told Paris Saint-Germain stars that he was signing a new Barcelona contract before his surprise exit last summer.
Messi's trophy-laden 17-year stay at Camp Nou came to an end in August 2021 as Barca announced that they would be unable to tie him down to a contract extension due to their financial troubles.
PSG then moved to bring in the forward on a free transfer, and Paredes has now opened up on how quickly the situation changed as his compatriot had initially intended to commit to fresh terms in Catalunya.
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What has Paredes said about Messi?
Several PSG players, including Paredes, were pictured with Messi in Ibiza before his departure from Barca was confirmed, which sent rumours of a potential move to Parc des Princes into overdrive.
Paredes has confirmed that they tried to convince the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner to join them in Paris, but he had his heart set on remaining at Camp Nou to begin with.
"We had seen him in Ibiza the day before, and he was leaving the next day to sign with his club (Barça), that was all," the PSG midfielder told TyC Sports. "We still told him: 'come with us' but he told us: 'I've already arranged everything, tomorrow I'm travelling to sign.'
"Then I don't know what happened on that trip to Barcelona, because the very night he was going to sign the contract, he told us he was coming here."
Paredes added: "At first, we obviously didn't believe him.
"When he told me that he had already arranged everything and that he was going to Paris to sign the contract, I said to him: 'Until you sign and I see you wearing the Paris Saint-Germain shirt, I won't believe you'."
Paredes on Messi being booed by PSG fans
Messi has struggled to live up to lofty expectations during his first season at PSG, recording just nine goals in 32 appearances in all competitions.
The 34-year-old has also provided 13 assists to help the club regain the Ligue 1 title, but he was targeted with boos by supporters following the club's disappointing round of 16 Champions League exit at the hands of Real Madrid.
Paredes was disgusted by the reaction of the PSG faithful towards Messi, who he insists does not deserve any of the criticism he's received over the past few months.
"When they whistled him, I couldn't believe it, these are things we can't handle but it was really crazy," he said.
"You suffer because knowing what Leo is, what he generates and what he gives you, what he tries to do for the club, the way the truth is presented is boring."