Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) has decided to end its two-year relationship with Lionel Messi after suspending the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner for going on an unauthorized trip to Saudi Arabia. Despite being greeted as a hero by adoring supporters when he arrived in Paris from Barcelona in August 2021, Messi was unable to deliver PSG’s elusive Champions League success.
Some fans have recently turned against him, seeing him as a symbol of the club’s focus on superstar signings while failing to build a genuinely competitive team.
PSG had previously looked set to secure Messi’s signature for another season, but they briefed a month ago that the player was now “much more likely” to depart at the campaign’s end when his contract expires. This week’s events are surely the final straw. Messi, who will be 36 in June, missed a training session on Monday following the weekend defeat after travelling to Saudi Arabia to fulfil commitments as part of a contract with the country’s tourist office.
As a result, PSG acted swiftly to punish Messi, suspending him despite still needing points to retain the French title with five matches left this season. A source with knowledge of the disciplinary procedure said Messi would be sidelined for “several days,” while various media in France reported he would be suspended for two weeks.
The Saudi tourist board issued a press release to celebrate Messi’s visit, which included feeding a herd of gazelles. Meanwhile, his teammates were back on the training ground in Paris after suffering a sixth defeat in 17 Ligue 1 matches in 2023.
Adding an ageing Messi to an attack already containing Kylian Mbappe and Neymar was not a recipe for European success. With Messi, PSG suffered consecutive exits from the Champions League in the last 16. They did win Ligue 1 last season and are on course to do so again this year, even if they limp towards the finish line.
PSG’s chances of winning the Champions League will not be diminished by losing Messi, but it remains to be seen where the player himself goes next. Barcelona has made no secret of its desire to bring him back, yet the Catalans’ ongoing financial issues cast doubt on their ability to make a deal happen. There are no other obvious options available to Messi in Europe, meaning he may have to consider a move elsewhere.