Exclusive: PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi says there will be January contract talks with Messi amid MLS links; confirms previous discussions with Man Utd's Marcus Rashford who is out of contract in summer; "To have Rashford for free, every club would run after him"
Friday 9 December 2022 06:16, UK
Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi says he is confident Lionel Messi will extend his stay with the club when they discuss his future in January - and confirmed Man Utd's Marcus Rashford could be a summer transfer target if he is a free agent.
Speaking to Sky Sports News, Al-Khelaifi smiled when recent reports suggesting Messi would be heading to MLS at the end of the season were mentioned and insisted the Argentina captain is happy in Paris, where he is having a fine season for the Ligue 1 leaders.
Messi, who has helped his country into the quarter-finals of the World Cup, is out of contract in the summer and Al-Khelaifi said a potential extension to his two-season stay at PSG will be discussed in January.
"Definitely," said Al-Khelaifi when it was suggested Messi appears to want to stay in Paris for longer.
"He's very happy, you can see that with the national team. If a player's not happy you will see their performance not good for the national team. He performed fantastic this season for us, he's scored a lot of goals and assists for the national team and for the club.
"So what we agreed together - that after the World Cup, sit down together. But both sides - our side of the club and him - are very happy, so we will talk after the World Cup."
Another player who is out of contract at the end of this campaign - although Man Utd have an option to extend the deal by one more year - is Rashford. He has impressed in Qatar, scoring three goals for England on the back of an encouraging return to form for his club under Erik ten Hag.
Al-Khelaifi confirmed his club had been in touch with the player previously and said if Rashford was to be a free agent in the summer he would have lots of clubs chasing his signature - including PSG.
Negotiations could start as soon as January, should PSG wish to pursue a deal.
"He's another player that is really amazing," said Al-Khelaifi. "And for free? To have Rashford for free, every club would run after him, definitely.
"We're not hiding it, we spoke before and… interest. But the moment was not a good moment for both sides. Maybe, summer, why not?
"Today if he's a free agent of course we can talk to him directly but we are not going to talk to him now. Let him focus on the World Cup. Then after in January, hopefully, if we're interested we will talk to him."
PSG has been a rumoured potential destination for free agent Cristiano Ronaldo but Al-Khelaifi says that would be "impossible":
"He's a legend, he's a star. The footballer, I admire and love him as a player and professional. A fantastic player. 37 now - he's doing amazing. But every single club wants to sign him too. The problem today for us is we have the position [filled] - his position - so it's not easy to replace the position that we have with him. It would be impossible, honestly, for us."
Mbappe had been linked with a move to Real Madrid earlier this year but ultimately signed a new deal to stay with PSG until 2025:
"For me he's a very top, top player and a top human being, professional. So for me it was really key he stayed and he didn't leave for free. That's another important point but as I always said, I always trusted him, trusted his family because we created something [of a] special relation with the player and them and that's why… he's Parisian, he's French and he's proud always to be in France. He's going to face England and that's what it's about, he represents France and his national team but also his club."
Al-Khelaifi was opposed to the European Super League and dismissed the prospect of it being revived:
"When they announced the Super League, everybody was against it: the clubs, the fans, all the stakeholders. It's really not something that someone can think about because, I will repeat it, it's not a legal contract, it's a social contract. It would be impossible for them.
"I think they know it but they want to get the maximum thing they can get from ECA (European Club Association) or from UEFA just as a kind of negotiation, to use it against us. But it's very clear, they don't have anything to negotiate.
"We are, as the clubs, all UEFA, we're very united, we're doing much better than before. Definitely, in everything. We're closer, more [like a] family, and as clubs of all different levels - small, medium, big - we're looking after the interests of the European football."
Sky Sports News reporter Kaveh Solhekol:
"I don't think Cristiano Ronaldo to PSG going to happen. Nasser Al-Khelaifi has a little bit of a problem as the president of PSG. His problem is keeping all of his superstars happy. Everyone knows who his front three are: Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe. Cristiano Ronaldo - one of the greatest players of all time - is available on a free transfer.
"Ronaldo himself has talked about the possibility of moving to Paris - he even made a joke about how many shirts they would sell if he and Messi played for the same side. Speaking to Mr Al-Khelaifi just a few hours ago, I got the sense they are not going to be signing Ronaldo.
"If they didn't have the front three that they have at the moment, I think there would be a big chance they'd have made a move for him.
"In terms of Marcus Rashford, he's been a long-term target for PSG and they've held talks about signing him in the past. His contract situation at Manchester United is quite interesting as it does run out next summer.
"We understand United have the option of extending it by another year. I get the sense Rashford is a player that PSG are really interested in."