Team Messi scores luxury life in Paris
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O la la! Not since Napoleon snatched the crown from the hands of Pope Pius VII at Notre Dame in 1804 and declared himself emperor has Paris seen such a spectacle. Famously blasé about anyone famous, on Wednesday saw a change of tune in the city as thousands dashed out of boulangeries to grab a spot out the Parc des Princes to salut le nouveau prince de Paris, football legend Lionel Messi.
There were fireworks, riot police dressed like Robocop, throngs of screaming fans, even scuffles that needed to be pepper-sprayed down. For all the hysteria, their fleet-footed Messiah appeared on the stage outside the stadium for just a few moments, disappearing as fast as a camera flash. The most that could be said: Messi mania had turned Paris into a hot mess.
The build-up to the Argentinian footballer’s grand entrée to France this week is the stuff of dreams, negotiated on gargantuan talent and more-money-than-God terms. In the most high-profile play move in the European summer, Messi will reportedly pocket a $41 annual net salary, including bonuses, in a two-year contract with Parisian club PSG. There is also an option for a third year.
The famous #10 forward tearfully bid adieu to Spanish giants Barcelona last weekend, a club he joined at age 13, after salary negotiation stalled. Saddled with burgeoning debt in the $1 billion range and needing to hack salaries, the club could not afford to keep the greatest player in its history, even after he had agreed to a 50% pay cut.
Little wonder when one looks at Messi’s jaw-dropping Barcelona deal, valued at over $650m, over four years. The 2017 contract netted him a $161m annual base salary, a $135m signing bonus and a $91m-plus loyalty payment.
Sainte Marie! I tried equating the math with Messi’s four Champions League titles with FC Barcelona, plus balls in the net … but soon conceded I’m no hero when it comes to that many zeros - or (foot)balls for that matter.
Paris may mean a salary cut for Messi, 34, but the lifestyle benefits for him and his family are truly très magnifique. The city is the seat of European luxury par excellence, boasting some of the most world famous names in food, hospitality, fashion and shopping.
Paris is only second to Tokyo when it comes to cities with the most number of Michelin-starred restaurants so when Messi and wife Antonella Roccuzzo want to duck the children for date night they could head off to the coveted three-star rated Pierre Gagnaire restaurant, based at the luxury Hotel Balzacwhich, which specialises in modern French cuisine and is recognised as a standard bearer for iconic, fusion cooking the world over.
If Roccuzzoi needs a night away from her three Messi boys - Thiago, 8, Mateo,5 and Ciro,3 - the couple could always check in to the 7 000 euros-a-night Hotel de Crillon, overlooking the Place de Concorde.
Here a woman can literally let her hair down sipping on sophisticated cocktails while soaking up the ambiance in the heated underground pool and trying to decide on which in-house five-star restaurant whets her palate. Choice, choices…
Rejuvenated, Mrs Messi can then hit the streets of the capital with well-heel vigour, Carrie Bradshaw style.
Chanel, Balmain, Dior, Vuitton, Balenciaga, Hermes, Givenchy! Paris is the fashion capital of the world.
She’ll need to leave the kids with the babysitter to make a good run of the “golden triangle”, a luxury hub anchored by Balenciaga, Hermes and Dior in the 8th arrondissement. Perhaps
Messi’s Adidas trainers would be better suited for that day out.
Then she could run over to the world’s largest Louis Vuitton store, set in a five-storey Art Deco building on the corner of the Champs-Elysées and the avenue George V.
Tastefully stocked with everything from the brand's homeware and jewellery to its traditional leather goods, the store is a wonderland for will have fans of the brand.
The Art Deco building, which overlooks the River Seine, is now home to everything from high-end labels to emerging designers; any fashionista worth her salt has to be seen there.
Gosh, those children are never going to see their mother.
The family will need a place to call home - aside from the several properties Messi around the world, including a six-bedroom apartment in Paris’ tres chic 16th arrondissement.
The footballer is said to have bought the historic mansion for over 8 million euros in 2016.
But it has just six bedrooms (wait, my math again, 5-member-family… mmm, let’s move on) - or perhaps it's his neighbour Lenny Kravitz - but the Messis are said to be looking for something else.
A possible move could be to the upmarket suburb of Bougival, to the west of the city, where Messi’s new teammate and close friend Neymar lives in a five-storey, 10,800 sq ft mansion.
The area is within spitting distance from the PSG training ground and has been home to several celebrities.
Now life can get lonely in a new city for a gorgeous young wife, especially with a prize footballer husband chasing around a ball all day to make good on that eye-water salary, $30m signing bonus and additional player-image rights cuts that will hike his annual intake even further.
Being the wife of Barcelona’s biggest star, probably meant Roccuzzoi was the toast of the WAG scene in Spain. Now she has to start from scratch, making new friends and building networks among kitty’s with serious claws.
She’ll probably start with Carol Cabrino, the Brazilian blogger, singer and reality TV star who is married to PSG captain Marquinhos, who, at 27, is far younger than her husband.
The couple have a 3-year-old daughter and 18-month-old son. Playdates, anyone?
Perhaps a better place to start would be Pilar Rubio, 43, wife of Spanish footballer Sergio Ramos. A mother of four sons close in age to Messi, who shares Roccuzzoi’s passion for fitness, Rubio seems the perfect candidate to introduce her to the city.
Nothing like two sexy senoritas spicing up the Champs-Elysées, turning the heads of those spindly French femme who had the audacity to declare to the world that they don’t get fat.
Put that in your croissant and eat it!
This article was first published in Saturday Insider, August 14, 2021.