Paris Saint-Germain suspends Lionel Messi due to an unauthorized Saudi trip, indicating that he will leave as a free agent

Paris Saint-Germain’s Lionel Messi reacts during the Ligue 1 soccer match between Paris Saint-Germain and Lorient, at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, Sunday, April 30, 2023. (AP Photo/Aurelien Morissard)

Paris Saint-Germain suspended Lionel Messi for two weeks after the Argentine star skipped training to travel to Saudi Arabia, and will not extend the Argentine star’s contract beyond this season, according to several times. reports Tuesday.

The punishment, and Messi’s unauthorized trip to the Bay a day after a disappointing 3-1 loss to Lorient, comes with speculation swirling about his future, one month before he is set to become one of the most iconic free agents in the sport’s history.

On Monday, the first day of the last month of his contract with Paris Saint-Germain, Messi reportedly traveled to Saudi Arabia to fulfill obligations related to his sponsorship contract with the petro-state. According to reports, he had previously asked for permission to do so, but PSG’s sporting director and manager – who promised all players two days off if they beat Lorient on Sunday – only granted conditional permission if PSG won or drew Sunday’s game.

Instead, with Messi starting and playing 90 minutes, PSG lost, leaving their 5-point lead at the top of Ligue 1 with five matches remaining. The next day, the whole team trained – but without Messi, who went to Saudi Arabia, who pays him huge sums of money as a tourism ambassador.

ESPN reported that his absence on Monday caused tension within the locker room. In other circumstances, he might have been excused – Messi, the greatest player of all time, might have been given special status and treatment – but PSG officials responded quickly. According to reports, they have decided that Messi will not play or even train for two weeks, and will not be paid. (The club confirmed Tuesday that it will “discipline” Messi.)

In doing so, instead of taking a soft stance to lure Messi back to Paris for another season, they all acknowledged that he would likely leave as a free agent this summer. French newspaper L’Equipe confirmed that the club will not extend his contract. The looming end has fueled months of rumors and questions regarding where Messi might play next season. The answer now appears to be “elsewhere”.

Where will Messi play next?

Messi, for more than a year now, has been strongly associated with Inter Miami of Major League Soccer. There were romantic suggestions that he could return to Argentina. Recently, there have been reports that Barcelona, ​​where he played for two decades starting at the age of 13, could tempt him back to Spain. There have also been reports of record offers from Saudi clubs.

But Barcelona is mired in a financial crisis, and it will have to conjure accounting magic to fit Messi’s wages into its books.

Saudi Arabia can offer a nine-figure salary, but it cannot offer him an adequate level of competition and global relevance.

Only two Argentine clubs, Boca Juniors and River Plate, have the infrastructure and resources that realistically allow him to offer anything but an everyday circus, given his fame – and Messi probably wouldn’t want to pick a side in the rivalry that divides Buenos Aires.

And then there’s Miami, a glamorous destination in a huge market and a growing league, whose commissioner has indicated a willingness to innovate, and perhaps even break MLS rules, to pay Messi what he’s owed.

“You’re probably dealing with the most special player in the history of the game,” Don Garber told The Athletic in March. “So when there are rumors of him being linked to Miami, it’s great. And if that can happen, it would be great for MLS, it would be great for Messi and his family, and like everything with us, we try to take every opportunity.

“Teams have the flexibility to do unique things,” he continued. “MLS is one entity. If you sell something that the collective owns, the group has to agree to that. So whatever (Inter Miami owner) Jorge (Mas) decides, with the help of (MLS executive vice president) Todd (Durbin) To structure something that, if we had the chance to do it, would be out of the box… We’re going to have to orchestrate a deal that compensates him in the ways that he and his family expect.”

There could be other suitors, whose names have not yet been revealed. There is no perfect option, just as there was no one when Barcelona’s financial woes led to Messi moving to PSG in 2021 – which is why he initially seemed set to stay for another season. Fabrizio Romano reported in December and January that Messi and PSG had a “verbal agreement” to extend his deal beyond June 2023.

But talks with PSG have since reportedly broken down. Among the many imperfect options, Paris now appears to be off the table. Messi’s stay in the French capital is likely to come to an unofficial end. And a new chapter will begin in the career of the greatest player in football history.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top