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What number will Messi wear at PSG?

Leo Messi is now officially a PSG player after agreeing a two-year deal the Parc des Princes but the matter of which shirt number he will wear is yet to be solved.

Lionel Messi celebrates with Barcelona's Spanish defender Gerard Piqué.

Leo Messi officially became a PSG player on Tuesday, bringing to an end a 21-year association with FC Barcelona that reaped 34 trophies of various shapes and sizes, including 10 Liga titles and four Champions Leagues, cementing his legacy as one of the greatest players of all time. The Argentina captain agreed a two-year deal at the Parc des Princes with the option of a third season and is expected to be officially presented later this week. 

With the fine print on his contract signed and sealed, the issue of what shirt number Messi will inherit at PSG now needs to be resolved, not least by a marketing department that will be champing at the bit to get Messi merchandise flying off the shelves.

Messi has always been associated with the number 10 shirt, inheriting it from Ronaldinho at Barça in 2008 and eventually assuming the famed 10 of Argentina, worn previously by Diego Maradona. Prior to that, Messi alternated between 15, 18 and 19 for Argentina and wore the number 19 at Barcelona (and very briefly 30) during his early career, sporting that number when he emulated Maradona's goal against England at the 1986 World Cup with his famous run from the halfway line against Getafe in 2007.

Messi 19?

Fans gather outside the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris.
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Fans gather outside the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris.ZAKARIA ABDELKAFIAFP

There is the option of returning to the number 19, currently the property of Spain international winger Pablo Sarabia, not least because in time-honoured football tradition one plus nine equals 10 (who could forget Iván Zamorano's notorious 1+8 shirt at Inter Milan?).

There is of course an easier answer to the problem, and it is a problem at least in marketing terms. Messi 10 shirts will sell more than Messi 22 shirts simply due to the desire of most young fans to wear either a 10, a seven or perhaps a nine or 11 on their backs. Few defenders pump out the number of shirts, shorts and socks attacking players do and with the notable exception of David Beckham, who could sell sand in the Sahara, few players generally want to (or are allowed to) stray too far from the number they are associated with.

Neymar offers up number 10 shirt for Messi

As such, PSG's commercial department will have heaved a sigh of relief when Neymar, Messi's former Barcelona teammate, offered up his number 10 shirt. The Brazil forward sells a lot of shirts, but Messi will sell more given the novelty of his arrival and the marketing campaign that will be unleashed when his number is determined.

The question then is which number will Neymar set his sights on? As proven by Thilo Kehrer, there will be few issues with a domino effect among the PSG locker room after the German defender gave up his number four for Sergio Ramos.


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