His career at Paris Saint-Germain was effectively over the moment Lionel Messi’s private jet taxied to a French runway earlier this week.
Suspension will come after a day. A formal breakup won’t happen until his contract expires in a few weeks.
By Wednesday, however, there was no doubt about the main point that Messi would never play for PSG again and that both the player and the club would be fine with it.
The ending was no surprise to either side. Their relationship has always been a business one and lacked the emotional weight of Messi’s previous tenure at Barcelona. The forward’s contract has been in talks for weeks and months after leading Argentina to victory at the World Cup, but neither team appears committed to completing the deal. rice field.
but by skipping training With PSG’s stacked roster expected to be sidelined on Monday, the day after Paris fans mocked the league’s leaders after a home defeat to Lorient, thoughts of a renewal faded. .
PSG players traditionally have Mondays off after a win. However, players are expected to train when they lose.
But by Monday afternoon, Messi and his family had already been photographed in Saudi Arabia, as part of the player’s multi-year deal to promote the Gulf Kingdom’s tourism board. In Paris, club officials reacted furiously to the star’s truancy.
By Tuesday evening, rumors began to circulate that PSG would not spoil Messi. Officially, the club is tight-lipped. However, the penalty imposed on Messi was soon leaked. He was suspended from practice and games for two weeks, during which he did not receive a single cent of his enormous salary, reported to be close to $800,000 a week. said Messi is unlikely to wear the club’s colors again.
Like PSG, Messi and his agent have remained publicly silent amid growing speculation that their relationship was crumbling behind the scenes. Messi was under the impression that he had the club’s permission to conduct commercial activities, those reports said this week. Messi said he had decided a month ago not to stay in Paris for his third season. He reportedly informed the club of the decision.
Meanwhile, the club was doing the same. The immediate concern seemed to be controlling the narrative rather than mending the relationship. But focusing on the details ignored the obvious. This week’s ending marks the bottom of Messi’s business relationship not only with his PSG, but possibly with the Qatari government. The former was heralding arrival in Paris in less than two years — a soft landing after Messi’s budget-driven, tearful exit from Barcelona — as a triumph. The latter has since gone to great lengths to associate with Messi’s genius.
The marriage of convenience couldn’t have been better for players, clubs and countries. Messi has signed one of the highest paying contracts in the sport. His Qatari-owned PSG have added another world-class name in their so far fruitless Champions League title search. Meanwhile, country Qatar added a headliner before his Cup at the 2022 Worlds, the biggest event in the country’s history, which saw Messi take center stage in the tournament. Qatari emirs paraded through the streets of Lusail like trophies.
A person close to PSG expressed surprise that a feature of Messi’s exit was presented on his behalf on Wednesday. They said it was the club that lagged behind the idea of a contract renewal as part of a plan to restructure the club towards a club that relies more on talent. He proposed a salary increase far beyond what he provisionally offered in May, claiming he even offered the amount he needed to stay.
Storm clouds began to gather as soon as Messi returned home from Qatar as world champion. As the league season resumed in the new year, PSG’s form began to decline and their once impregnable lead in the league began to shrink. The team was kicked out of the French Cup and, most frustratingly for Qatari owners and Parisian fans, also out of the Champions League.
All the while, the heckles and whistles of PSG Ultras grew louder, with the most angry voices increasingly directed at Messi. usual brilliance.
Messi watchers are part of a cottage industry that is as linked to Messi’s stardom as his football prowess, and have spent the past few weeks speculating as to where he might land next season. ? American adventure in Miami? Long stay in Saudi Arabia? Everything is definitely on the table now.
As Messi poses for pictures with his family in Riyadh, one thing is clear: his future is not in Paris.