Lionel Messi to leave Paris Saint-Germain, confirms head coach

Lionel Messi to leave Paris Saint-Germain, confirms head coach By A Robin - June 01, 2023
Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi, who moved to PSG in 2021 after leaving Barcelona, has been linked with a move to Saudi Arabia while talk of a return to the Nou Camp has picked up in Spain in recent weeks; Messi's relationship with PSG fans has soured this season despite his 21 goals and 20 assists.

Lionel Messi will leave Paris Saint-Germain at the end of the season, head coach Christophe Galtier has confirmed.

Messi, who moved to the French side in 2021 after leaving Barcelona, has been linked with a move to Saudi Arabia while talk of a return to the Nou Camp has picked up in Spain in recent weeks.

Galtier has now clarified the six-time Ballon d'Or winner's future lies away from the Parc des Princes ahead of PSG's last outing of the campaign against Clermont Foot on Saturday.

"I had the privilege of coaching the best player in the history of football," Galtier said on Thursday. "This will be his last match at the Parc des Princes, and I hope that he will receive the warmest of welcomes."

Messi has 21 goals and 20 assists for PSG in all competitions this season, but his relationship with the team's fans has soured with the Argentina captain subjected to whistles as the French side fell short in their pursuit of Champions League glory once again.

There was an option to extend his initial two-year deal - worth £25m per year after tax, plus bonuses - by a further 12 months, but that will not now happen.

"This year, he has been an important part of the team, always available. I don't think any of the comments or criticisms are justified," Galtier said.

"He's always been there for the team. It's been a great privilege to accompany him throughout the season."

Xavi: I've told president to bring Messi back to Barca

Barcelona head coach Xavi has called on the club hierarchy to bring Messi back to the Nou Camp this summer, but says the move depends on the Argentina forward.

Messi, who scored 672 goals in 778 appearances for Barca between 2003 and 2021, has spent the last two seasons at PSG after Barcelona let him move for a free due to being unable to renew his contract.

Asked about the impact Messi would have on this Barcelona team, who won LaLiga this season, Xavi told Barcelona-based newspaper SPORT: "I'm in no doubt that if Messi were to return, he would help us in what we are wanting to achieve with our football.

"I am in no doubt and I've told this to the president. He continues to be a determined footballer, he has the hunger still. "He's still a winner, he's a leader and he's different. At Barcelona, we've not have the same level since what we reached as a pinnacle in 2010.

"There's no doubt that he would still help us a lot - but in the end it all depends on him.

"Messi brings you the talent of being able to play the final pass, he opens doors, scores goals. In the final third he can provide the difference.

"We're going to talk to him and his representatives. I think Leo has the upper hand, there is no doubt."

He added: "It's difficult to be in the skin of someone who has won it all. I'm not in his head, but I've been very clear about my relationship with him. We have the doors wide open. And if he wants to come, I'm in no doubt that it can happen and he would help us. But it's up to him. It's his personal choice."

Why is Messi leaving PSG?

Sky Sports News chief reporter Kaveh Solhekol:

Messi's representatives were in talks about a contract renewal with PSG and everything was looking positive during the World Cup in Qatar but the dynamic changed and his departure from Paris suits all parties.

PSG consider the move to sign Messi as a free agent in the summer of 2021 to have been a success on and off the pitch, but sections of the club's fans have turned on the player since they were knocked out of the Champions League by Bayern Munich.

Messi and the team have not been performing as well as expected since the World Cup and his departure in the summer fits in with the club's new strategy of focusing on young French players instead of signing superstar talents.

Messi still believes that he can play at the highest level in Europe and Barcelona have made no secret of their desire to re-sign him this summer.

It remains to be seen whether they can afford to offer him a new contract but he is much more likely to stay in Europe than move to Inter Miami - or any other MLS club - or Saudi Arabia at this stage of his career.

By A Robin - June 01, 2023

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