Lionel Messi will leave Paris Saint-Germain at the end of the season, with the Ligue 1 club not planning to offer the forward a new contract.
Messi joined PSG in the summer of 2021 on a two-year deal after leaving Barcelona due to their financial issues.
The 35-year-old has played 71 times for the French side, scoring 31 goals, recording 34 assists and lifting the title in 2022.
However, Messi was suspended by PSG earlier this week for going on a personal promotional trip to Saudi Arabia without permission.
The Argentina international is understood to have asked PSG for permission to travel to the country, which he did on Sunday night, having twice postponed a scheduled commercial trip due to team defeats.
However, Messi did not get that permission and was therefore suspended for two games and fined two weeks’ wages after a day of meetings between the club’s hierarchy.
Messi was pictured in Riyadh on Monday and advertised his presence in the country on his social media. Messi already serves as a tourism ambassador to Saudi Arabia.
The level of response from PSG, who declined to comment publicly, was proof of a new policy, driven by president Nasser Al-Khelaifi, whereby no one is bigger than the club – and the same rules will apply to everyone.
Messi will now miss the Ligue 1 matches against Troyes and Ajaccio, but could return for the match against Auxerre on May 21.
Acccording to Sky Sports News, last monththat Messi wanted to understand PSG’s sporting plans for next season before committing to a new contract.
The World Cup winner, who returned to Paris on Tuesday, posted on his Instagram in partnership with VisitSaudi a picture of a row of palm trees with the caption: “Who thought Saudi has so much green? I love to explore its unexpected wonders whenever I can. #visitsaudi.”
Saudi Arabian club Al Hilal want to sign Messi this summer and, with the backing of the country, are prepared to pay him an astronomical £400m for just one season in order to market a league that already contains Cristiano Ronaldo.
Tourism minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb tweeted a welcome to Messi on Monday, as well as posting pictures of the Argentinian only hours after he had played 90 minutes of PSG’s 3-1 home defeat to Lorient.
“I am happy to welcome Messi and his family to Saudi to enjoy the magical tourist destinations and authentic experiences,” Al-Khateeb tweeted. “We welcome visitors from all around the world to experience a unique trip to Saudi Arabia and its hospitality.”
Barcelona have already attempted to step up their efforts to make Messi a contract offer this summer by talking to LaLiga about generating more flexibility in their Financial Fair Play ratio.
The club are in talks with the league regarding their spending limits for next season, with the idea firmly in mind to try to bring Messi back to the Nou Camp for what is likely to be his last year in European football.
However, it will not be easy with Barca having been charged by LaLiga for breaching their limit with three players during the 2021-22 season, including ex-Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen, and were forced to re-register Gavi as an academy player.
The Christensen fine has been successfully appealed but Barca remain at the very limit of what they can spend and will almost certainly have to move players on to accommodate a Messi return.
Barcelona manager Xavi told reporters last week it was “too soon” to speculate whether Messi would return to the club, saying: “When it comes to Leo, we don’t know if it will happen or not. It’s too soon to talk about it.
“Winning the title is very important to us, for the club, the staff and the players. It would give us a lot of stability.
“As for new players arriving, we will talk about it once we’ve won LaLiga.”
Source: Sky Sports News