PSG suspended Lionel Messi for a mid-season visit to Saudi Arabia. The Argentine forward is a promoter for Visit Saudi, the country’s tourism board, and he has a clause in his contract that requires him to visit the country and post on his social media pages. However, his recent trip did not have the authorization of his club.
According to French outlet RMC Sport, the Parisian club is now suspending Lionel Messi for two weeks without training and pay. He will miss a pair of Ligue Un games that could see PSG clinch another league title.
However, it is the fact that the league title is not secure that may have led to the suspension. Messi was seen in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the day after PSG lost to midtable Lorient. Consequently, he missed a recovery session. This not only surprised teammates and manager Christophe Galtier but irked them. Messi has twice canceled trips to Saudi Arabia. That includes after Bayern Munich knocked Messi and PSG out of the UEFA Champions League. The result frustrated Messi, who stayed in Paris to train.
Messi’s camp called the fiasco with traveling to Saudi Arabia a misunderstanding. Messi requested the time away from the club to uphold his end of the over-$30 million deal with Visit Saudi. While he thought the club granted permission, it evidently did not.
PSG suspension of Messi after Saudi Arabia trip leaves questions
Regardless of who is in the right, this creates a serious rift in the relationship between Messi and the club. Previous reports said Messi was not going to renew his contract with PSG. That makes him available as soon as the end of this season. Major League Soccer and clubs in Saudi Arabia are the most likely of the two, with his former club Barcelona fighting for his signature, too.
However, Guillem Balague, writing for BBC Sport, says the return to Barcelona looks bleaker each day.
“The club will have to present a viability plan to La Liga, which will mean more wage cuts, players sold and others arriving on free transfers,” Balague wrote. “There is even talk about terminating some players’ contracts. Only when all this is sorted out can they think about returning into the transfer market for new players, among them Messi.”
That is a tall task, even if the divide between PSG and Messi continues to grow.
PHOTO: IMAGO / HMB-Media
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