Lionel Messi in action for PSG. (AFP)
The Argentine World Cup winner’s future in the French capital had become a topic of discussion following the Parisians’ early exit from the UEFA Champions League and the seven-time Balon D’Or winner’s recent walkout from a PSG practice session following a rumoured fallout with manager Christophe Galtier that has added fuel to the speculations
Speculations are growing every day that Lionel Messi doesn’t seem to be happy at Paris Saint-Germain. Messi is believed to have a strained relationship with PSG boss Christophe Galtier and the belief seems to have become stronger after reports of the Argentine superstar getting into a training ground disagreement with the manager. According to a DailyMail report on Saturday, Messi refused to take part in an exercise and left the training ground early with Galtier failing to persuade him to stay back.
An earlier report in The Mirror, however, stated that Messi had withdrawn from training after he felt a niggle in his adductor. Messi’s father Jorge Messi denied that his son left the PSG training after falling out with Galtier.
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Whatever the actual reason for Messi leaving the training ground midway on Tuesday, it has surely led to the uncertainty of Messi’s future at the Paris giants ramping up. Messi joined PSG in 2021 after Barcelona, where he had been playing since 2004, failed to afford his steep wages. The Argentine icon signed a two-year deal with the Paris club, with the possibility of extending the contract by a year. He also received a signing-on fee of £25m. His contract is set to expire in June this year.
However, with reports of bad blood between Messi and PSG talisman Kylian Mbappe, it seems less and less likely that he would be willing to a contract renewal at the Parc des Princes. Speculations about Messi’s imminent exit also gathered momentum after it was reported that PSG had put discussions on Messi’s contract extension on hold.
Messi’s relationship with Mbappe looked to have deteriorated in the aftermath of a hotly-contested FIFA World Cup final in December last year that saw Messi finally winning the elusive biggest prize that football can afford him.
The Paris club is going through financial difficulties. It has been punished for breaching UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) norms and has had to pay a €10 million (£8.8 million) fine. Any further misdemeanour could see the club being fined €45 million (£39.8 million).
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A number of clubs, including Messi’s beloved Barcelona, boyhood club Newell’s Old Boys, Major League Soccer (MLS) side Inter Miami and Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal are being linked with the Argentine World Cup winner. The Saudi side is reportedly willing to pay Messi £194 million per year and bring him to the Saudi Pro League to compete against arch-rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who joined Al Nassr a couple of months ago and earns an estimated £173 million per year.
Messi has come under severe criticism in Paris after the club’s humiliating exit from the UEFA Champions League, losing 0-3 to Bayern Munich on aggregate. Results in the French Cup have also not gone in PSG’s favour. PSG have managed only five wins and have tasted defeat five times this year. However, PSG are still at the top of the table in Ligue 1.
Messi has scored 18 goals and made 17 assists for PSG this season. This adds to the 11 goals he scored last season. However, his commitment to PSG has been questioned by PSG fans and former players. While the fans have repeatedly booed him, former PSG player Jerome Rothen told RMC Sport, “The joke is that we saw his matches in Qatar, I saw his movements, how he invested himself.”
“And I don’t mind that considering it’s the national team jersey, a separate thing, but hey, respect the club in the capital a little, the one which allows you to maintain a status and salary,” he added.
Outspoken former France forward Christophe Dugarry, on the other hand, demanded that Messi made his future at PSG clear.
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