Lionel Messi, star of Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), recently made a splash in the world of football with his controversial trip to Saudi Arabia. Messi flew to Riyadh without the club’s permission to carry out his duties as a tourism ambassador for Saudi Arabia which has ambitions to host the 2030 World Cup.
Lionel Messi Apologizes
Messi realized his mistake and apologized to his teammates and PSG through a video he shared on his personal Instagram account on Friday (5/5/2023). Messi admitted that he was misinformed regarding the holiday he got at PSG. He thought he would get two days off after the match against Lorient on Sunday (30/4/2023), but PSG lost 1-3 and had to train on Monday (1/5/2023).
“I’m sorry for what I did and I’m waiting to see what the club decides,” Messi said.
Sanction from PSG
PSG did not remain silent and gave strict sanctions to Messi. According to ESPN reports, Messi has been banned from playing and training with the team for two weeks. During that time, Messi will not receive a salary from PSG.
This means that PSG will lose Messi’s services in two French League matches 2022-2023 against Troyes (7/5/2023) and Ajaccio (13/5/2023). Messi also risks losing his place in the first team if other players are able to impress.
Impact on PSG
Messi’s presence at PSG is actually expected to bring the club to the Champions League trophy for the first time. However, so far Messi has not been able to show his best performance with Les Parisiens.
Messi has scored four goals and two assists in 12 appearances in all competitions last. He also suffered frequent injuries and was absent from several important matches.
Now, with the incident on vacation to Saudi Arabia, Messi is increasingly causing problems for PSG. He not only made the club disappointed, but also made the fans angry. Several PSG ultras even raided Messi and Neymar’s house to voice their protest.
Messi joined PSG in August 2021 after his contract with Barcelona expired. He signed a two-year contract with an option for a one-year extension.
However, after the Saudi Arabia incident, Messi’s future at PSG became uncertain. According to the Kompas.com report, PSG will not give Messi a new contract. This shows that the relationship between the club and the player is fractured.
Several clubs are reportedly interested in recruiting Messi if he leaves PSG. One of them is Manchester City, which was coached by former Barcelona coach, Pep Guardiola. City also has large funds to meet Messi’s salary, which reaches 400 million US dollars per year.
Challenge for Saudi Arabia
Messi’s trip to Saudi Arabia also highlighted the country’s efforts to promote itself as a world tourist destination. Saudi Arabia has a lot of tourism potential, ranging from historical sites, culture, nature, to entertainment.
One of the attractions of Saudi Arabia is the falcon which is considered a symbol of courage and strength. Messi took a photo with the falcon during a visit to Riyadh.
Saudi Arabia also has ambitions to host the 2030 World Cup.