Lionel Messi ‘handed TWO-WEEK BAN and fined by PSG over unsanctioned Saudi Arabia trip’
Lionel Messi has reportedly been handed a two-week suspension by Paris Saint-Germain following an unauthorised trip to Saudi Arabia.
French publications RMC Sport and L’Equipe reported on Tuesday evening that the World Cup-winning superstar had been banned from playing for PSG or training with his team-mates for a fortnight, meaning he will miss the upcoming Ligue 1 matches against relegation-threatened duo Troyes (May 7) and AC Ajaccio (May 13). Messi has also reportedly been fined.
The 35-year-old is said to have visited Saudi, where he has served as an ambassador for the country’s tourism board since May 2022, for a two-day trip on Monday, an absence that L’Equipe report was not sanctioned by PSG, manager Christophe Galtier or sporting director Luis Campos.
Messi will next be available to play for PSG in their Ligue 1 trip to face Auxerre at the Stade de l’Abbe-Deschamps on May 21. Galtier’s side then close out the season with a pair of matches against Strasbourg and Clermont.
Per RMC Sport and L’Equipe, as relayed by Get French Football News, PSG were not originally supposed to train on Monday, though were called in in the aftermath of Sunday’s woeful 3-1 home defeat by Lorient in which Messi started and played the full 90 minutes and Achraf Hakimi was sent off.
Messi was not present at their Camp des Loges training ground, hence the subsequent punishment. The BBC report that the player had asked PSG for permission to travel to Saudi for commercial work but was refused.
Messi’s £25million per year contract at the Parc des Princes is due to expire this summer, though it remains to be seen if he will entertain an extension amid constant rumours of a dream return to Barcelona.
Messi joined PSG in a blockbuster deal in the summer of 2021 after financially-challenged Barca could not afford to keep him despite a hefty wage cut amid LaLiga’s tightened rules on spending.
He has since scored 31 goals and laid on 34 assists in 71 total appearances across all competitions for the French giants, including 20 and 19 in 37 outings this term. However, he has frequently received criticism from fans for his performances in 2022/23, with PSG on track for another Ligue 1 title but eliminated early from both the Champions League and Coupe de France as another managerial change potentially looms in the summer.