Lionel Messi: why has Paris St-Germain star been suspended? Argentina captain’s trip to Saudi Arabia explained
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The Argentinian captain and Paris St-Germain number ten has been suspended by his club for two weeks following a trip to Saudi Arabia which was taken without the club’s permission.
The trip came after PSG suffered a home defeat to Lorient on Sunday and Lionel Messi played the full 90 minutes in that time. The 35-year-old will be unable to play or train with the club during this suspension. Messi is believed to have asked permission to take the trip in order to carry out commercial work but was refused by the club.
As well as the two week suspension, Messi has been fined by PSG. He will miss matches against Troyes and Ajaccio. The side are currently five points clear at the top of Ligue 1 with five games to go as they look to clinch a ninth league title in 11 seasons.
Why did Lionel Messi go to Saudi Arabia?
Messi works as a tourism ambassador for Saudi Arabia and the 35-year-old was pictured in Riyadh on Monday, advertising his presence in the country. The World Cup winner posted on his Instagram in partnership with VisitSaudi a picture of a row of palm trees with the captain: “Who thought Saudi has so much green? I love to explore its unexpected wonders whenever I can. #visitsaudi.”
Tourism minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb also tweeted a welcome message to Messi which said: “I am happy to welcome Messi and his family to Saudi to enjoy the magical tourist destinations and authentic experiences. We welcome visitors from all around the world to experience a unique trip to Saudi Arabia and its hospitality.”
It is also no secret that the Saudi Arabian club Al Hilal want to sign Messi this summer when his contract at PSG runs out. It has been reported that with the backing of the country, the club are prepare to pay him £400m for just one season in order to market a league that would contain both Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo who currently plays for Al Nassr.
What’s next for Messi?
Messi’s two year contract with PSG runs out at the end of this season. He has scored 31 goals and contributed 34 assists in 71 games across all competitions for PSG, winning the Ligue 1 title last season. This recent suspension has meant Messi has made it clear he wishes to call time on his time in the French capital and PSG’s response to Messi’s trip also signals they are not wishing to renew any contract.
The World Cup winner’s former club, Barcelona, have made noise suggesting that they are in contact with their former superstar. The club is in talks with the league in reference to their spending limits for next season with the hope that they will be able to bring Messi back to the Nou Camp. However, the club is evidently at the very limit of what they can spend and will almost certainly have to move players on to accommodate a Messi return.
The Barcelona manager, Xavi, has however said it was ‘too soon’ to speculate whether Messi would be able to return: “When it comes to Leo, we don’t know if it will happen or not. We don’t know, it’s too soon to talk about it. Winning the title is very important to us, for the club, the staff and the players it would give us a lot of stability. As for new players arriving, we will talk about it once we’ve won La Liga.”