PSG suspends Messi after unauthorized Saudi Arabia tour

PSG's Lionel Messi reacts during the French League One soccer match between Paris Saint-Germain and Lorient, at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, Sunday, April 30, 2023. (AP Photo/Aurelien Morissard)

Paris Saint-Germain has suspended Lionel Messi for two weeks without pay for an unauthorised trip to Saudi Arabia, French media reported.

The L'Equipe newspaper reported that the Argentine superstar would not be able to play or train, and will not be paid while suspended.

Messi will miss the Ligue 1 match against Troyes on May 7 and one against Ajaccio on May 13.

"He cannot train, cannot play, and will not be paid while disciplinary measures are in place," a source told the AFP news agency.

Messi signed an optional third-season clause in his contract when he first arrived in 2021.

Club officials have decided not to activate it, the report said.

Messi, who will turn 36 in June, played in PSG's 3-1 home defeat by Lorient in Ligue 1 on Sunday.

He then travelled to Saudi Arabia to fulfil commitments as part of a contract with the country's tourist office.

As a result Messi missed a training session pencilled in for Monday following the weekend defeat, before the PSG squad were given a day off on Tuesday.

PSG are due to return to league action away at struggling Troyes on Sunday, a game that Messi may now miss.

Out of form

The disciplinary measures make the prospect of Messi staying in the French capital after his two-year deal expires at the end of this season even more remote.

Having at one point looked set to extend his stay for another year, a source close to the club told AFP last month that he was now "much more likely" to depart at the campaign's end.

Messi arrived from Barcelona in 2021 but has struggled to reproduce his best form in Paris, scoring 31 goals in 71 appearances in all competitions.

He was recently jeered by a section of the PSG support, who see him as a symbol of all the club have done wrong in focusing on superstar signings while failing to build a genuinely competitive team.

Messi has scored 20 goals in all competitions this season and is the leading assist-provider in Ligue 1, with 15.

However, his form since leading Argentina to World Cup glory in Qatar has declined along with that of the team.

PSG's insipid performance against Lorient brought a sixth defeat in 17 Ligue 1 matches in 2023.

They remain five points clear of Marseille at the top of the table with five games left, and are therefore still on course for a record 11th French title.

However, they were knocked out of the Champions League in the last 16 by Bayern Munich and also went out of the French Cup at the same stage to Marseille.

Messi spent most of his career at Barcelona, winning them 10 La Liga titles, 7 Copa del Rey titles, 4 UEFA Champions League titles, and 3 Club World Cup titles.

With his national team, Argentina, he won 2021 Copa America and got the biggest trophy in the sport after winning the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

On the individual level, Messi won the Balloon d'Or 7 times, 3 FIFA Men's player, and 10 player of the year awards.


Source: TRT World