Paris Saint-Germain have suspended Lionel Messi for two weeks and fined the Argentina international after he made an unauthorized trip to Saudi Arabia with his family as part of a promotional commercial deal.
The 35-year-old was not given a leave of absence after the French champions lost 3-1 at home to Lorient last weekend and was absent when his teammates trained on Monday after a rest period was canceled due to the result. Messi will not take part in Ligue 1 matches for a two-week period from May 2, nor will he be included in the side’s training sessions, in addition to a heavy fine for being thousands of miles away without warning.
In any case, the Argentine winner of the 2022 FIFA World Cup will not play against Troyes, potentially leaving only Ajaccio, Auxerre, Strasbourg and Clermont as potential opponents before the end of this season. Despite Messi’s contract expiring as PSG chase a historic 11th French title, chairman and CEO Nasser Al-Khelaifi sees this as a statement on discipline at the club. It is a message of zero tolerance with his treatment of Messi and players must show respect for the club, but also for its fans and communities.
Kylian Mbappé’s contract extension last year was the start of a culture shift away from players seeing themselves as bigger than the PSG institution and is expected to continue this summer with the South American’s contract expiring as part of the next step.
Internal processes dictate that unauthorized absence from training justifies a tough stance – as it would any form of work – and such a display against a globally recognized name like Messi would illustrate management’s weight and insistence on discipline.