PARIS: Star footballer Lionel Messi is poised to leave Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) after the team’s upcoming match against Clermont on Saturday.
The announcement came from the French Ligue 1 club via their social media platforms, stating that Messi’s two-season adventure with PSG would come to a close at the end of the 2022-23 season.
According to the club, Messi will play a role in the Ligue 1 match at the Parc des Princes, effectively concluding his two-year tenure with PSG. Speculation about Messi’s departure has been circulating, with reports suggesting that the World Cup winner may seek a new challenge in Saudi Arabia.
Signed two seasons ago from Barcelona with the aim of helping PSG secure an elusive Champions League title, Messi’s tenure at the French club fell short of expectations. PSG faced defeat in the Champions League last 16 against Real Madrid last season and experienced a similar fate this year at the hands of Bayern Munich.
Despite his record of seven Ballon d’Or wins, Messi’s time at PSG saw him earn an estimated annual salary of €30 million ($32.1 million) after tax, thanks to the backing of Qatar. While he led Argentina to victory against France in the World Cup final in Qatar last December, Messi couldn’t replicate that success at PSG, particularly in the Champions League.
Despite scoring 32 goals in 74 games for PSG prior to the final match on Saturday, Messi even faced jeers from some supporters at the Parc des Princes. His relationship with the club further deteriorated when he skipped training for an unauthorized trip to Saudi Arabia as a tourism ambassador for the Gulf state, resulting in a one-week suspension.
Although Barcelona, where Messi spent the majority of his career, expressed their desire for him to return, that possibility has seemingly faded in recent weeks. The next destination for Messi could potentially be Saudi Arabia, according to a source familiar with the negotiations. However, Messi’s father Jorge had previously denied that his son had made a decision regarding his next move. Additionally, Inter Miami has reportedly made an offer to bring him to Major League Soccer.
While the French league may not hold significant importance for Messi in retrospect, considering his accomplishments at Barcelona and his World Cup triumph with Argentina, he has left an indelible mark on those who worked with him and faced him on the pitch. Despite missing out on the French player of the year award to PSG forward Kylian Mbappe, Messi was nominated for the accolade. PSG coach Christophe Galtier, acknowledging Messi’s influence, referred to him as “the best player in the history of football” and expressed his privilege in accompanying him throughout the season.