Lionel Messi will leave Paris Saint-Germain after their last game of the season on Saturday, the Ligue 1 champions said on social media. “After two seasons in the capital, Leo Messi’s adventure at Paris Saint-Germain will come to an end at the end of the 2022/23 season,” the club said in a widely anticipated announcement. The club said the 35-year-old would play a role in Saturday’s Ligue 1 match against Clermont at the Parc des Princes. The Argentine was signed from Barcelona two seasons ago to help PSG win an elusive Champions League, but he failed in that goal.
The French club was beaten in the round of 16 of the Champions League by Real Madrid last season and suffered the same fate this year by Bayern Munich.
Messi, who has won the Ballon d’Or seven times, has earned an estimated annual salary of 30 million euros ($32.1 million) after tax at Qatar-backed PSG.
He led Argentina to victory against France in the World Cup final in Qatar in December.
But after pouring his efforts into that long-awaited win for his country, he was unable to lead PSG past Bayern in the Champions League.
Messi was even jeered by some supporters at the Parc des Princes, despite scoring 32 goals in 74 appearances for PSG before Saturday’s final game.
His relationship with the club deteriorated further earlier this season when he skipped training for an unauthorized trip to Saudi Arabia to fulfill his obligations as tourism ambassador for the Gulf state.
A week-long suspension followed and there was no prospect of Messi signing a new contract in Paris afterwards.
Barcelona, the club where he has played most of his career, would like to see him return, but the possibility has seemed to fade in recent weeks.
Instead, Saudi Arabia could be his next destination.
A source with knowledge of the Saudi negotiations told AFP last month that it was a “done deal” for him to play in the Saudi Arabian league, although Messi’s father Jorge denied at the time that his son had determined his next destination.
Inter Miami also reportedly made an offer to bring him to Major League Soccer.
After everything he won in Barcelona and his World Cup victory with Argentina, the French league may not mean that much to Messi when he looks back on his career.
As journalist Vincent Deluc noted in leading French sports daily L’Equipe: “PSG have not been better than before because of him… and he seemed to have as much desire to play in Ligue 1 as to go to the dentist.”
Nevertheless, Messi has still left his mark on those who have worked with and competed against him.
He was nominated for this season’s French Player of the Year award, even though he missed out on PSG striker Kylian Mbappé.
“I have had the privilege of coaching the best player in football history,” said PSG boss Christophe Galtier this week.
“This year he has been an important part of the team. I never thought the criticism of him was entirely justified, when he is 35 and there is a World Cup in the middle of the season and yet I think he has scored.” or score more than 40 goals in all competitions.
“It was a great privilege not to coach him, but to accompany him throughout the season.”
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