According to reports, Lionel Messi ‘will leave’ French giants PSG this summer as they ‘do not plan’ to offer him a new contract.
The 35-year-old, who is out of contract next month, has been jeered by PSG supporters during recent games and his unauthorised trip to Saudi Arabia this week led to him being suspended by the French club.
The renewal of Kylian Mbappe’s contract last year, even though it came at an enormous cost, is seen as part of a new strategy at PSG. Messi, however, seems to no longer fit into their plans.
Sky Sports are reporting that ‘Messi will leave Paris Saint-Germain at the end of the season, with the Ligue 1 club not planning to offer the forward a new contract’.
The unauthorised trip to Saudi Arabia further upped the ante and it is understood he has been suspended for two weeks from training and matches.
On Wednesday, the Saudi Tourism Authority released details of Messi’s trip to Riyadh. The player and his family “indulged in a fine-dining experience” at the Al Bujairi Terrace, visited the VIA Riyadh luxury retail complex and also the 300-year-old UNESCO World Heritage Site in Diriyah.
Before heading to Diriyah, the family had been to a farm where they fed Arabian gazelles, the release said.
Amnesty International said earlier this year that Messi’s ambassador role with Saudi Arabia was part of the country’s “aggressive sportswashing programme”, with Saudi authorities “seeking to exploit the celebrity appeal of elite sport to deflect attention from the country’s appalling human rights record”.
A report from The Telegraph claims ‘The Saudi Arabian government is preparing the most lucrative salary deal in the history of football to bring Lionel Messi to its Saudi Pro League this summer’. They add.
‘Talks with Messi’s representatives, led by his father Jorge, are underway for when the player becomes a free agent at the end of June upon the expiration of his Paris Saint-Germain contract.
‘There are discussions that the whole package could be worth $400 million annually (£320 million) that would exceed even the £165 million that Cristiano Ronaldo is being paid annually to play in Saudi until the summer of 2025.’
It has also been reported that Barcelona are hoping to bring Messi back. Journalist Ben Jacobs claims the forward ‘wants to stay in Europe’.
‘A Messi return is still a pretty challenging deal for Barcelona to pull off, but Joan Laporta has said repeatedly the club has a “moral debt” to bring him back. No formal offer yet, but Barca say they are working on it.
‘Senior Al-Hilal sources have always called signing Messi “a dream”. Huge backing from Saudi government. It’s just whether it’s right for Messi. Inter Miami have seriously explored signing him, too.
‘The feeling remains Messi wants to stay in Europe, though. That gives Barcelona hope, and potentially invites some surprise new suitors, too.’