Lionel Messi is currently suspended by Paris Saint-Germain for two weeks, but his tenure there feels almost over. After being fined and banned from all club facilities following an unauthorized trip to Saudi Arabia as part of a commercial deal, this relationship seems to be headed for Splitsville. The Argentina international’s contract expires at the end of June and he will turn 36 just days before it expires and he may move to another club.
The chances of PSG and Messi continuing together at this point are slim to nil with a contract extension offer still on the table from the French champions. However, barring a reversal of dizzying proportions, it will not be reviewed by either side and the former Barcelona man will leave the Parc des Princes under a cloud.
Messi arrived in the French capital to a wild reception with PSG fans in droves to greet the FIFA 2022 World Cup winner in style with a show of immense passion. The same passion was on display in Paris on Wednesday the echoes of the French champions descended on the club’s offices after a brief stop outside Neymar’s home.
Messi’s name, along with Brazilian superstar and teammate Marco Verratti and that of chairman and CEO Nasser Al-Khelaifi, was chanted by irate supporters. The atmosphere around PSG is toxic at the moment with Messi’s personal situation almost unsustainable and it currently feels possible that we may have seen him for the last time in Rouge et Bleu.
We look at how PSG can go from here.
Messi’s internal suspension will not exclude him from all remaining games for Christophe Galtier’s side, but that may not matter to the South American. PSG are trying to bring about a major cultural shift at the club and part of that has been a form of suppression of behavior as previously shown by Messi here and Neymar. With the Ligue 1 leaders facing the challenge of crossing the line for an historic 11th Championnat crown, the need to distance themselves from as much toxicity as possible is absolutely essential.
It’s not ideal to miss out on a player of Messi’s talent when he plays so poorly, but the price in terms of negativity generated around him becomes too high. With Neymar injured and Messi now suspended, the stage is set for Kylian Mbappé to act as PSG’s main man for the rest of the season as the club builds around him. The summer was already all about adding players to match him, so this period gives him time to get used to being an undisputed top dog forever.
No Messi for new boss
The 3-1 home defeat against Lorient FC has put the title in jeopardy again after victories over OGC Nice and RC Lens looked to take care of it. Suddenly, PSG are a few poor results away from potentially opening the door to bitter rivals Olympique de Marseille just weeks before the end of the season. Galtier will not be retained and he will leave with Messi, but there is little point in making such drastic changes before the title is sealed.
Instead, the knowledge that the Argentine will not be present for the next campaign should bring more clarity to the situation and one less condition to potentially consider when hiring a new boss. Messi alone probably wouldn’t have dictated potential replacements and necessitated a star whisperer like Zinedine Zidane, but the post-Galtier PSG will certainly be less complicated to shape tactically with one or more of Messi, Neymar and Mbappe out of attack, which means could introduce a larger urgent element that would mark a stylistic change.
The arrival of Milan Skriniar in the summer and the possible departure of Sergio Ramos also influence considerations for next term, but clarity on Messi’s future was perhaps the most fundamental given his stature and wage impact. Taking that sort of player stature out of the equation could also open the door to a younger and less experienced tactician more in line with PSG’s hopes of a focus on French talent and academy prospects, such as a Thiago Motta or a Julian Nagelsmann, but the general turmoil at the moment still suggests that experience has great value, so it’s no surprise that Jose Mourinho’s name is at stake.
Messi-less PSG attack will look very different
Perhaps most meaningful to the French champions is the fact that knocking out Messi, regardless of Neymar, changes the look of attacking options. Hugo Ekitike could get a few chances to redeem himself alongside Mbappé, while a target’s profile would now be more compatible than when PSG persisted with their superstar trio.
Ideally, a full rebuild would see Messi, Neymar and Ekitike all continue, but the Brazilian is recovering from injury and the Frenchman has had a poor debut season. A more direct approach is needed, something arguably lacking since Edinson Cavani’s departure in 2020, so expect this to become an area of urgent concern.
Should PSG somehow manage to get both Neymar and Messi to leave, that will give Luis Campos room to completely rebuild the team creatively, bringing some broad elements and potential No. 10 profiles into the game would bring. This perhaps explains why Bernardo Silva has regularly been associated with a move to the Parc des Princes since the arrival of his compatriot.