Lionel Messi, PSG and what we’re hearing about his future
Lionel Messi in Paris. Will there be another season?
That is one of the most important plotlines at play at the Parc des Princes right now and, judging by this week’s latest instalment of Parisian drama, a conclusion is still some way off.
On Friday, Jorge Messi, the Argentinian forward’s father, posted a dramatic message on his Instagram story. It read: “Danger — FAKE NEWS!!!!”, followed by emojis of an exclamation mark, a radioactive symbol and a skull. It showed screen grabs of three stories that had circulated around Messi — one suggesting Paris Saint-Germain would not “give in” to all of Messi’s requests to stay at the club, another saying Messi had requested €600million (£524m, $643m) to go to Saudi Arabian club Al-Hilal and another claiming Messi had left a training session early because he was unimpressed by a session set up by PSG head coach Christophe Galtier.
Jorge Messi warned people not to believe these stories and said, “We will no longer tolerate these inventions from people seeking to gain followers. ”
Sources close to Messi — speaking, like others in this article, on condition of anonymity to protect relationships — told The Athletic the player left a training session early one day last week due to pain in his adductor muscle, before doing a gym session the next day and then resuming normal training.
To deny there was a problem between Galtier and Messi, a PSG source with access to training reports explained in detail to The Athletic that the Argentinian had left training due to physical discomfort (rated at a level of seven out of 10) on Wednesday. However, according to our information, the problem had been on Tuesday.
Several independent sources have said Messi was disgruntled during a training session. The French publication RMC Sport has also reported Messi took issue with a training drill. Messi was fit enough to play all 90 minutes in PSG’s 2-0 defeat by Rennes on Sunday.
It is a tale that neatly captures the fraught feeling around the future of one of PSG’s biggest stars, and one of the game’s greatest players, at a time when the club itself is asking introspective questions about its direction of travel.
PSG is at a crossroads, stuck between a star-studded era and a desire for a new sporting project free of the ‘bling’ and with an injection of youth. Messi, 35, appears to be caught in the middle.
So, will he stay or will he go?
Lionel Messi, pictured here with PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi in 2021, swapped Barcelona for Paris, signing a two-year contract (Photo: Aurelien Meunier – PSG/PSG via Getty Images)
It remains too early to know definitively about Messi’s next steps, but The Athletic has spoken to a range of sources with connections to the player and the club to take the temperature and assess the direction of travel.
The basic facts of Messi’s situation are straightforward. In the summer of 2021, he joined PSG from Barcelona on a two-year contract, worth €30million per year. The deal included the option of a third year at the same rate, which is where we are now. That option to extend his stay in Paris must be agreed by both the player and the club, which differs from Kylian Mbappe’s situation, where he alone holds the keys to whether he extends his PSG contract or not.
So far, so straightforward.
The problem is that it is not fully clear whether Messi’s extension will be triggered or not. A meeting was held in Paris about a renewal before the Champions League last-16 meeting with Bayern Munich but no significant progress was made. PSG sporting advisor Luis Campos was present but a lack of detail about what next year’s squad would look like did not go down well with the Messi camp.
After the glory of the 2022 World Cup, when Messi lifted the trophy while wearing a bisht, any notion of him leaving Qatar-owned PSG seemed far-fetched. In January, he looked very likely to extend and PSG were pushing hard to make it happen. But there has been a drift in opinion since the Champions League exit at the hands of Bayern, with internal soul-searching leaving no stone unturned. That same impetus, while still present, is not thought to be as strong. That has been reflected by the fanbase, with some supporters whistling Messi before PSG’s defeat by Rennes, whereas others applauded. There does not appear to be a unanimous verdict on the terraces.
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There is a financial aspect to Messi’s next steps. Those close to PSG have claimed Messi’s transfer has paid for itself thanks to the revenue generated since his arrival in the French capital. But there is also a view that allowing him to leave would open up some wiggle room in their financial fair play (FFP) calculations. The constraints of FFP are widely seen as influential in PSG’s recent transfer-market manoeuvres, with French newspaper L’Equipe reporting the club had seen a 45 per cent uplift in wages over the past two financial years. This was increased again by the signing of Messi.
PSG need to reduce their wage bill as part of a settlement reached with UEFA for failing to comply with a break-even agreement between 2018 and 2022. This is where the extenuating factors also come into play, particularly if Mbappe either extends or is given new terms.
Mbappe is thought to be a priority, a point disputed by those close to Messi’s camp. Sources with knowledge of the negotiations have suggested offers have been made to Messi but none have yet been accepted, with the club conscious they do not want to pay more than they can justify to retain him.
But what about Messi’s stance? Is the delay in signing just a negotiating position? There is a sense Messi is looking for the best financial option, even though sources close to him have stressed the importance of a sporting project — that he joined the club to win the Champions League, an ambition deemed possible initially by linking up with Mbappe and Neymar.
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Today, there is a feeling within Messi’s camp that they do not know what the PSG project will look like, which is why they have yet to commit. Amid the uncertainty surrounding not only Messi but also the futures of Galtier, defender Sergio Ramos (contract expires 2023), Mbappe, and others, there is a lack of clarity that was not eased by that first in-person meeting with the club, not only in terms of the squad make-up but also regarding squad investment. It is thought Messi wants to be a part of a project that can remain competitive at the highest level.
But there are also doubts about the strength of Messi’s hand at this stage. There is not thought to be a crowded market at the top level of European football for him right now. There is no Premier League interest to speak of at this point, with Al-Hilal in Saudi Arabia, Inter Miami in the United States and Barcelona the mentioned alternatives (Jorge Messi’s rebuttals on social media, notwithstanding).
There was confidence in the US during the World Cup that Messi might make the jump to Major League Soccer, but another year fighting for trophies in Europe is more appealing before then. A return to Argentina, and his first club in Newell’s Old Boys, of Rosario, also seems more distant than ever after a shooting outside a supermarket earlier this month in the Argentine city. The Associated Press reported that the gunman left a note that included the words: “Messi, we’re waiting for you.”
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Barcelona stands out. Former team-mate Sergi Roberto fanned the flames this week with his comments after Barcelona’s victory over Real Madrid in El Clasico. “Who wouldn’t be ready for Leo to come back,” he said. “As players, we would welcome him back with open arms! He’s having a good season in Paris, now they’re blaming him. We’ll treat him the right way here if he comes.”
In September, Barcelona’s economic vice-president Eduard Romeu said it would now be “financially feasible” for Messi to return.
As things stand, those close to Messi are planning personal and commercial matters with a view to staying in the city after this summer. After a year of adaptation — he scored six times in his first Ligue 1 campaign — this season has been much more profitable, with 13 league goals (and 13 further assists), statistics that point to a more settled Messi.
A lot of what happens next could well be defined by what happens with other star names in Paris. Neymar’s contract runs until 2027 — he wants to see out his career at PSG and the prospect of his departure seems distant. Mbappe must make a decision on his next steps by the summer, and PSG hope to know more by April.
There are many moving parts in Paris but Messi remains in the middle.
Additional reporting by Adam Crafton and Peter Rutzler.
(Top photo: Getty Images; design: Sam Richardson)
Where Will Lionel Messi Go After PSG? Messi’s 2023 Options
Seven-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi reportedly has no intention of renewing his contract with Paris Saint Germain (PSG), which means the GOAT could be a free agent in June.
Messi joined the Ligue 1 club in summer 2021 after a La Liga salary cap reduction of €200m forced Messi out of FC Barcelona — the club he was loyal to for 18 years. But his two-year deal at PSG expires on June 30, and while it was initially believed that the World Cup winner would extend the deal, rumours are now circulating that he is planning his exit.
But what exactly does Messi’s next football move look like? Let’s examine.
Will Messi return to Barça?
Of course, a return to his beloved FC Barcelona would be the fairytale ending to Messi’s incredible career, and we can’t rule out this possibility.
Back in July, club president Joan Laporta teased that Messi’s chapter at Barça was “not over”, promising that he will have a “more beautiful ending” at the club than he was given when FC Barcelona couldn’t afford to renew him in 2021.
“I would hope that the Messi chapter isn’t over,” Laporta told ESPN. “I think it’s our responsibility to try to … find a moment to fix that chapter, which is still open and hasn’t closed, so it turns out like it should have, and that it has a more beautiful ending. ”
More recently, Laporta met with Messi’s dad Jorge Messi to discuss a range of topics including a potential tribute match. However, it remains unclear if transfer discussions took place.
“I met Jorge Messi yes,” Laporta said. “We talked about the World Cup and a tribute match for Leo. He’s at PSG right now, so I don’t want to speak about whether or not he could return”
As for how the financials play out this time around, club VP Eduard Romeu has confirmed that “it would be possible financially” for a Messi return. However, he stressed that it would come down to whether its the right decision for the club and the player, rather than a question of whether the club could simply afford to do it.
“But it’s a decision which has to be made by the coaching staff and the player. It doesn’t correspond to me [to make those decisions], but it would be viable,” Romeu told Catalunya Radio in September.
Will he go to Inter Miami?
Back in November it was reported that Messi was “close to agreeing to a deal” with Inter Miami to play in the MLS. The deal reportedly would’ve seen him become the highest-paid player in MLS history.
However, sources at the time claimed that he was not going to agree to a contract while he was focussing on the 2022 FIFA World Cup — which was, in hindsight, a good call considering he went on to captain Argentina to their first victory since 1986.
Messi has previously stated his desire to play in the MLS, and Miami would make sense as a good fit for the 35-year-old, who owns a house in the area and holidays there regularly.
There has definitely been interest in a Messi move to Miami, but it is unclear how high this one is on his priorities in 2023.
PSG & Barca Lionel Messi
Will Messi do a Ronaldo?
Another option for the certified GOAT is to follow in the footsteps of his lifelong rival Cristiano Ronaldo and move to Saudi Arabia, where he has reportedly been offered $430 million per year to play for Al Hilal — a contract that is even more lucrative than the $300 million per year deal Ronaldo secured last year.
However, the General Secretary of the Saudi Football Federation has recently rubbished this rumour by clarifying that there is no news currently on his potential move to the Saudi league, but the Federation hopes he will make the shift one day.
“At the moment we do not know anything about a possible Lionel Messi arrival, although I do not hide that, as Saudi Federation, we would like to have him one day in the domestic league,” Ibrahim Alkassim told Marca.
It seems unlikely that Messi will move to Al-Hilal next season, but this could be on the cards if he chooses to stay one more year at PSG.
One thing we know for sure is that a Saudi league with both Messi and Ronaldo would certainly be interesting.
Will he stay at PSG?
And last, but certainly not least, there’s the possibility that Messi will choose to stay at PSG.
While the rumours seem to suggest he is leaning away from renewing his contract, we know all too well that rumours cannot be trusted.
According to Marca, Messi’s father and agent Jorge Messi has received an offer for a contract extension from PSG.
Early reports suggested that his renewal was all-but-certain with a “verbal agreement” reportedly made between the two parties in December.
His current deal allows him the option to stay on until summer 2024 — an additional year — his recent victory at the FIFA World Cup likely has his team keen to negotiate a more lucrative deal for his final few years in the game.
In a recent interview on the PSG YouTube channel, Messi said he feels great at the club, which could mean he is inclined to renew his contract.
“The truth is I feel great. The first year I had a hard time adapting to Paris for different reasons,” Messi said. “This season I started differently, with a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of desire. [I’m] more comfortable with the club, the city & everything that Paris means.”
While the recent reports suggesting his departure have quickly been refuted by other respected journalists in the football space, we should take everything with a grain of salt until an official announcement either way is made.
Lionel Messi is officially a Paris Saint-Germain player
Image copyright PSG
World football star Lionel Messi has joined French club Paris Saint-Germain. The six-time Ballon d’Or winner who spent his entire career playing for Barcelona was forced to leave the Catalan club after failing to agree on a contract extension. Messi will wear number 30 and receive, according to the French press, 35 million euros per season.
“I am looking forward to starting a new chapter of my career in Paris. The club and its vision are fully in line with my ambitions. I know how talented the players are here. I am determined to do something special for the club and the fans,” Messi said after signing a contract.
On Tuesday, Lionel Messi flew from Barcelona to Paris with his wife and children, where he underwent a medical examination.
The new player is expected to be officially unveiled at Wednesday’s press conference.
The 34-year-old has won 36 trophies with Barça and scored an incredible 672 goals.
Last summer, Messi wanted to leave Barcelona, but the club did not let him go, and on July 1 of this year he became a free agent (that is, he could move to any other club without the new team having to pay a huge release fee).
On Saturday, Messi said goodbye to the club with tears in his eyes, thanked the fans and teammates.
Photographed by EPA
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Messi himself said that he was ready to take a halving of his salary and did everything possible to stay at Barca, but it turned out to be impossible to sign a new contract due to the strict rules of La Liga and Barcelona’s debts, which now exceed 1 billion euros.
Therefore, even with a pay cut, Barça would still not be able to renew Messi’s contract. Under UEFA’s financial fair play rules (established by UEFA to make sure football clubs don’t spend more than they earn), clubs are not allowed to sign up new players if they spend more than 70% of their turnover on salaries.
With Messi’s proposed new deal, this amount would have exceeded 100%, and even without it, it is 95% for Barça, which made the extension of the contract impossible.
“I’ve spent my whole life here since I was 13. After 21 years, I’m leaving. With my wife and three small children. I can’t promise we won’t come back. Because this is my home,” said the player at the farewell press conference and couldn’t stop crying.
Joy in Paris, tears in Barcelona: Messi moved to PSG
Leo Messi moved to Barcelona as a boy, at 13 years old. He has been playing for the main team of Barcelona since 2004, from the age of 17. The number 10 of the six-time winner of the Golden Ball in Barcelona has not yet been given to anyone.
Couldn’t risk the future
Barça president Joan Laporta said he couldn’t risk lending the club’s future even for a player like Lionel Messi.
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Officially, Messi was earning more than 70 million euros a year, but the Spanish club’s financial auditors estimated that he made about twice as much thanks to advertising revenue.
Messi was about to leave last year, unhappy with Barça’s performance in the Champions League. To go to Paris Saint-Germain – the only club that can financially afford to support a football star, Messi has long been persuaded by his friend and former teammate at Barcelona, Neymar.
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Messi fans gathered for his last press conference with Barcelona
But then Messi stayed, saying that he and his family wanted to continue living in Catalonia and that he wanted to win another League champions in Barcelona.
Good deal or financial fair play violation?
For Paris Saint-Germain this move is a bargain. Just a year ago, they planned to invest 500 million euros in Messi and take on long-term obligations, and now the player, having become a free agent, got them much cheaper.
However, as Marca found out, a complaint was filed with the European Commission in an attempt to block the transfer. The document, which was reviewed by the publication, notes that the basis for filing was the financial situation of PSG and the club’s possible violation of the rules of the same financial fir play.
“In the 2019/2020 season, 99% of PSG’s income was spent on the salaries of football players, while in Barcelona this share is 54%,” the authors of the document say.
How this complaint will affect the contract of Messi and PSG is not yet clear.
But be that as it may, French football expert Julien Laurent stressed in an interview with the BBC on Monday that the importance of this event is not that Messi moves to PSG, but that no one would have thought of it before could that he would ever be forced to leave Barcelona in this way – almost by force.
Lionel Messi – player profile 22/23
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01 Jan. 2018
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Facts and figures
Lionel Messi is the cousin of Maxi Biancucchi (Retired).
Lionel Messi is the cousin of Emanuel Biancucchi (Without Club).
10 Aug. 2021
July 01, 2005
March 05, 2004
28 Nov. 2003
13 Sept. 2003
July 01, 2002