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What Next For Lionel Messi After PSG Suspend Argentinean Legend Over Saudi Trip?

There was big news from Paris overnight where after making an unauthorised trip to Saudi Arabia, Argentinean superstar Lionel Messi has been suspended for two weeks, without pay, by Paris St Germain.

Messi, it is believed, had initially been given or sought permission for the trip, but a change in training routine saw Paris St Germain withdraw that permission, or decline his request, some time before PSG’s surprise home defeat to Lorient at the weekend.

Despite this, Messi made the trip anyway, leading to the club announcing the punishment and confirming that he will not play or even train with the club during the 14-day suspension.

Why Did Messi Want To Go To Saudi Arabia?

Messi has a lucrative role acting as a tourism ambassador for the Saudi state, who have been using their large Public Investment Fund to involve themselves in a number of sporting endeavours in recent years.

That includes purchasing Premier League team Newcastle United, as well as being the funding source for the new and controversial LIV Golf Tour.

Recently, Saudi-based football team Al-Nassr made the move to sign Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United, Messi’s long-time rival at club and international level and there has long been talk that Messi could be the target of a number of Saudi-based clubs to help raise the profile of the domestic league.

Furthermore, with Paris St Germain showing no sign that they want to extend Messi’s current contract with the club, which expires at the end of this season, there is also the possibility that he may have been in Saudi Arabia to discuss his next move.

Whatever the reason Messi decided to go on the trip, it has meant that he is going to miss a significant chunk of the final part of the season for Paris St Germain.

What Games Will Lionel Messi Miss Due To His Suspension?

Having played the full 90-minutes in PSG’s surprising 3-1 loss at home to Lorient, a team that had not won a game in their last four, Messi made the trip to Saudi shortly thereafter.

His suspension means that he will miss PSG’s next two league games, the first away to Troyes and the second a home game against Ajaccio.

He could then be back for the final three games of the season where PSG face away games at Auxerre and Strasbourg, as well as a home game to finish the season against Clermont Foot.

Over the last few years, PSG have usually had the Ligue One title wrapped up by now, but a run of three defeats in their last four home games means that their lead has been cut by the chasing Marseille to just five points, with Lens just six points behind, with five games left of the season.

Is There More To This Story Than Simply Suspending A Star Player?

Paris St Germain will stick to the line that there is nothing more to this story other than Messi broke the terms of his contract by not turning up to a training session and instead went abroad.

They will claim that they are treating Messi as they would have any other player by invoking the right of a two-week suspension without pay and on the face of it, they may well be right.

However, there is more behind this story. Messi’s time at PSG has been a mixed one. He was slow to find his best form for the club and his arrival at the club came under the cloud of the financial mismanagement at Barcelona being so bad, that the Catalan club had no option to release him and allow him to move on.

Messi never really wanted to leave Barcelona, but joined PSG as the best value option and as one of the new powers in European Football. He was brought in with the likes of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe to fire PSG to the Champions League.

But in two years, the French team have not managed to reach another final, let alone win the tournament that they covet the most.

Additionally, there is a disassociation between PSG fans and Messi that has been growing for some time, to the point now where many PSG fans do not want the club to re-sign the Argentinean World Cup winning captain and superstar.

So you have to ask yourself, why would a team like PSG not want to keep on a player with the following incredible career statistics.

Messi’s Incredible Career In Statistics

Club Career

  • Total Games (Club) – 881
  • Total Goals (Club) – 714
  • League Titles – 11 – 10 with Barcelona, 1 with Paris St Germain
  • Domestic Cup Wins – 15 – 7 Copa Del Rey Wins, 7 Supercopa de Espana wins (with Barcelona) 1 Trophee des Champions (with PSG)
  • Champions League Wins – 4 (all with Barcelona)
  • UEFA Super Cup Wins – 3 (all with Barcelona)
  • FIFA Club World Cup Wins – 3 (all with Barcelona)

International Career

  • International Caps – 174
  • International Goals – 102
  • FIFA World Youth Championship Winner – 1
  • Summer Olympics Winner – 1
  • FIFA World Cup Winner – 1
  • Copa America Winner – 2021
  • CONMEBOL – UEFA Cup of Champions Winner – 1

Individual Honours

  • Ballon d’Or Winner – 7 times
  • FIFA World Player of the Year – 3 times
  • European Golden Shoe (Top Scorer) – 6 times
  • FIFA World Cup Golden Ball Winner – 2 times
  • FIFA World Cup Silver Boot – 1 time
  • Copa America Best Player – 2 Times
  • Copa America Top Goalscorer – 1 time
  • La Liga Best Player – 6 times
  • Pichichi (Top Scorer in La Liga) – 8 times
  • Laureus World Sportsman Of The Year – 1 Time
  • Argentine Footballer Of The Year – 15 times
  • Leading La Liga Goalscorer In Its History – 474 goals
  • Guinness World Record Holder for most official goals in a calendar year (91 goals)

You can read the full list of career achievements Messi has achieved by following the link.

What Will Be The Next Move For Messi?

Lionel Messi could join literally any club in the world next, assuming that his time at PSG is over, that is if he decided to take a wage cut to allow him to sign for a smaller club.

However, given his wage demands, it is likely that there are only a small number of opportunities available to him.

  • Re-Sign with PSG – Very unlikely given what has transpired between the player and the club especially with PSG stating that they are going to change their approach to focus on developing younger players rather than making mega-star signings.
  • Move back to Barcelona – Barcelona are believed to be keen to bring Messi back to the club where he played the majority of his career, however with Barcelona still in a very precarious financial position, could they afford to bring him back?
  • Move to Saudi Arabia – If any clubs could afford Messi’s huge wages, then it would be one of the Saudi clubs and with his rival Cristiano Ronaldo already playing over there, and his role as a Saudi ambassador this move would make sense on a number of levels.
  • Move to the MLS – Messi has long been linked with a move to the MLS with Inter Miami, David Beckham’s team believed to be the team most interested in landing the Argentinean star.
  • Move To Newells Old Boys – Messi has said in the past that he wants to finish career back at his home town club. Could he be ready to make the move back home this Summer for a season or two in the Argentinean league?

Of course any club with plenty of cash could make a move for Messi, but his decision will be based more on what he wants in the next stage of his career, rather than what any potential club can offer.

And for his current club, PSG, it is a time for reflection and a change of direction.

Our View: The PSG Experiment – An Expensive Failure?

Since Qatar Sport Investments took over at PSG in 2011, they have overseen a huge spend on some of the world’s greatest football players.

How they have managed to stay within financial fair play regulations is open to debate (and investigation) but over the years PSG have spent massively on a number of stars.

The biggest spend was €222m to sign Neymar in 2017, which was followed a year later by a loan with an option to buy for €180m for AS Monaco teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe.

Then a couple of years ago, they landed Lionel Messi as one of a number of marquee Free Agent signings which also included Sergio Ramos, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Georginio Wijnaldum along with expensive purchases of Achraf Hakimi and Danilo Pereira.

Despite all these massive signings, the trophy they were brought in to win, the Champions League still eludes PSG and after more than a decade of a seeming never-ending spending spree, it now appears PSG’s owners are ready to adopt a new and more cautious approach.

So yes, the PSG experiment failed, at least at European level and it will be interesting to see whether a new approach can bring the club the reward that they covet the most.

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