Argentina fans celebrate Lionel Messi goal in World Cup final
On Wednesday, shortly after being suspended by PSG, it emerged Lionel Messi would be leaving the Ligue 1 giants at the end of the season. The Argentina international joined from Barcelona in 2021 with one objective: to win the Champions League. Given that hasn’t happened that means he’s failed for the first time in his glittering career – and it’ll be interesting to see if both Neymar and Kylian Mbappe jump ship as well.
Messi, in a rare show of defiance, recently angered PSG by jetting off to Saudi Arabia with his family – with the Ligue 1 giants then suspending him for two weeks for his actions.
And it’s now emerged the Argentina international will be on the move from the Parc des Princes come the summer, with his contract due to expire.
If you read purely into statistics, then talk of Messi being a failure potentially seems too harsh.
The 35-year-old managed a respectable 11 goals and 15 assists last term, a total of 26 goal involvements from 34 matches across all competitions.
And he’s been even better this season, finding the net 20 times across all competitions while registering 19 assists as well – making it 39 goal involvements from 37 games.
But Messi was brought in to win the Champions League and the brutal truth of the matter is PSG are no closer to that happening now compared to when he arrived.
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It is the competition that has become the Holy Grail over in Paris, with the Ligue 1 titans yet to ever lift the prize despite their dominance of the domestic scene.
Messi did his part this season, scoring four times and creating four other goals for his team-mates during his eight appearances in the competition.
Yet he was anonymous as Bayern Munich sent PSG crashing out of the competition earlier in the season, contributing virtually nothing during the two legs.
Messi’s powers are waning. Though he remains one of the best players in the world, he no longer has that mantle all to himself.
Many are quick to condemn Cristiano Ronaldo, saying the Manchester United star never lived up to the hype at Old Trafford after his return in 2021.
So the same logic must apply to Messi, too.
Ronaldo did, of course, burn his bridges at United with his bombshell interview with Piers Morgan in November that would ultimately spark his departure.
Messi jetting off to Saudi without permission from PSG can’t really be compared.
Yet it is still an example of a player putting himself over his team-mates. Once you start doing that, a parting of ways becomes best for all involved.
Now, however, it’ll be fascinating to see whether Neymar and Mbappe join him in jumping ship. If the rumour mill is to be believed, that’s a genuine possibility.
Neymar has been at PSG ever since 2017 but has never won round the club’s ultras.
On Wednesday night, fans turned up at his house urging him to leave PSG – having suffered far too many injuries for their liking since his move from Barcelona nearly six years ago.
Neymar, when he plays, is unstoppable. His 13 goals and 11 assists from 20 Ligue 1 matches are proof of that.
But he’s never been in a happy marriage over in France and there’s been talk of a potential move away, with Manchester United and Newcastle both linked.
PSG pay Neymar well but, when he spends more time on the treatment table than on the pitch, it becomes logical to consider options behind the scenes.
Mbappe has made it clear he’s happy in France, having only just extended his PSG contract.
Yet if they fail to win Ligue 1, with five matches remaining, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that he’ll seek a new challenge.
Real Madrid will always be there for Mbappe, despite missing out on the 24-year-old last year.
And United have again emerged as potential suitors amid talk he’s been earmarked by Sheikh Jassim as a marquee signing there to be made.
Messi’s imminent departure could just be the start of an exodus at PSG.
And where he ends up remains to be seen, with both Barcelona and clubs from Saudi ready to secure his signature.
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