Lionel Messi’s Paris Saint-Germain project has ended here – which is the right call

Lionel Messi’s two-week suspension by Paris Saint-Germain marks the beginning of the end. There is certainly no way now that the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner will be back in the French capital. A line has been drawn, and ties are expected to be severed this summer.

The events of the past week have led to a conclusion many expected. On Monday, Messi went to Saudi Arabia. This in itself was not very surprising – he is the country’s ambassador, having signed a lucrative agreement to promote tourism. like the athlete It has previously been stated that his contract with Paris Saint-Germain enables him to agree to any sponsorship deals he likes.

But the problem is that PSG were supposed to train on Monday.

The men’s first team plan was published this week after the disappointing defeat at Lorient on Sunday night and detailed that the squad would be in training on Monday, with a rest day on Tuesday. Monday was France’s national bank holiday, known as May Day, but the dismal display in the Parc des Princes necessitated a post-mortem. However, Messi was not present, and he was not given approval to travel either.

L’Equipe first reported on this development, detailing that Messi had postponed the trip twice before and his plan was accepted when players were due to have two days off this week. However, this changed after the defeat of Lorient, and Messi was said to have found the trip impossible to postpone.

(Photo: Frank Fife/AFP via Getty Images)

PSG’s response was relentless: a two-week suspension banning him from attending the club’s facilities and preventing him from training and playing matches. He’ll miss his trip to Troyes this weekend, and likely miss the visit to Ajaccio on May 13. His salary will also be reduced.

The club’s reasoning is based on their view that Messi’s decision to travel to Saudi Arabia, without consent, is a disdain for the institution. The comment was a statement about the club’s discipline and tolerance, emphasizing that attending someone else’s promotional event on a working day would not be acceptable. Regardless of the international reaction, they wanted to make a point. No one was above the club.

Essentially, this was the right decision.

In a sense, PSG had no other choice. The club’s form since the start of the year has been sloppy, with nine defeats in all competitions – more than double the total in the whole of 2022. As a team, they were devoid of motivation and combativeness and never was that more evident than during the limping team’s defeat by Lorient. Allowing a major player to get away with it for missing a training session, after yet another embarrassing defeat, would condone this honesty culture. That was unacceptable. It disrupts an already tense dressing room, and torpedoes any remaining power still held by head coach Christophe Galtier.

For PSG, as a club, this indulgence has been allowed to fester for too long and that has been its downfall. The dressing room has held great sway in recent seasons and has proven untamable to some of the game’s best managers. Galtier is just the latest in a long line of struggles with its power dynamics.

Even now, this club is still built around Kylian Mbappe. Paris Saint-Germain wants the France captain to be the focus of the team, to focus on young French talent with the former Monaco star at the heart of the project. But last season really bears its mark — in part, anyway. The appointment of sporting director Luis Campos, in collaboration with Galtier, stemmed in part from Mbappe’s contract negotiations last summer. His recent public outburst on social media over a marketing video, which he didn’t like, only confirmed his own influence at the club.

Kylian Mbappe is the iconic figure at PSG right now (Picture: Frank Fife/AFP via Getty Images)

Naturally, the developments this week raise the question of whether Mbappe will be treated in the same way as Messi. The Argentine is not as popular as Mbappe and was, of course, promoting Saudi Arabia while his club – funded by Saudi Arabia’s great regional rival Qatar – was expecting him in training.

Regardless, the answer must be yes, absolutely if this week’s drama means anything of substance for PSG. “No player is bigger than the club” should mean exactly that. If that backs down, PSG will make the same mistakes again.

The decision to suspend Messi changes the landscape. It sets a precedent. It also means that the Messi project is over. The summer of 2021, when PSG pulled off the unthinkable and hailed the signing of arguably the game’s greatest player of all, seems to be a long time ago. The 35-year-old is unanimously unpopular on the stands at the Parc des Princes, and ahead of PSG’s defeat by Lyon last month, his name was whistled for the second consecutive match.

Fans hated the uncertainty about his future, and the feeling he didn’t bring in the same investment and commitment he showed once at Barcelona. After the developments that happened this week, it is difficult to see the rebuilding of this relationship, and similarly, after his club set an example, it is difficult to see a path back to the negotiating table as well. Messi’s contract expires in the summer and that feels like a final.

A future without Messi at PSG may not be the worst thing for the club. Yes, they will lose an exciting player, but PSG have conceded to match him. Galtier’s system is designed to get the most out of Messi, sometimes at the expense of others, such as midfielders Vitinha and Carlos Soler. In the long term, having one less star player would provide the opportunity for more balance, and could avoid scenarios where two players don’t make a defensive job despite their squad down to 10 – as was seen against Lorient.

The flip side is that Messi’s performances have brought the team closer to the title – he is not the problem when it comes to their failures on the pitch at home and in Europe. If anything, he was a key part of why PSG still maintained a five-point lead at the top of Ligue 1. He’s been decisive all season, a frequent winner, and has 15 goals and 15 assists for him. name. If you take Messi out of the team, this influence will not be easy to replace. Nor will it solve the culture of indifference that has developed at the Camp des Loges, nor will it provide Galtier with a team with greater depth and balance.

However, in the interest of the club, taking a stand would have to be the right move. A culture change is needed if PSG wants the success fans can get behind.

You should start here.

(Top photo: Valerie Hash/AFP via Getty Images)

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