"A crazy sanction", protests the Argentinian sports daily Olé. In a box in "one", Wednesday, May 3, the newspaper returns to the crime of lèse-majesté of which the child of the country was victim: Lionel Messi. The striker was sanctioned the day before by his club, Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), because of a trip to Saudi Arabia for which he had not given his authorization.
Especially since the native of Rosario, who had flown to Riyadh to honor his commercial partnership with the tourist office of the monarchy, neighbor and rival of Qatar - owner of PSG -, had missed a team training at Camp des Loges. Not the best effect the day after a crushing defeat (1-3) at the Parc des Princes against Lorient, 10th in the French championship.
Result: a disciplinary procedure and "several days" of suspension without pay. A "too strong" sanction, according to Olé: "We are talking about the best player in the world, the one who has shown exemplary behavior throughout his career, whether in Barcelona or even in the national team. The title, which even has a section devoted to the star, is convinced of this: it is "the plot of an announced end". The agreement in principle between the Ile-de-France club and the player for a contract extension, cleverly staged in the media in the wake of the World Cup in Qatar, in December 2022, now seems a long way off…
"A Tsunami in a Glass of Water"
"Days and months passed and there were no more meetings or news between [Luis] Campos [PSG's sporting director] and Messi. At the club, we concluded that number 30 was not ready to continue in Paris, because there was no progress or communication. Beyond the fact that Leo [Messi's nickname], publicly, never said anything about his future. But there was more of a starting smell than of continuity…”, writes the daily. Until "that unexpected moment": this trip to Saudi Arabia, "which made the hair on the heads of the Qataris".
In Argentina, the case goes so far as to agitate the general media. La Nacion, too, sees it as the "preamble to a definitive removal, with no room for maneuver to agree on the renewal of the [player's] contract which will expire next June". For the conservative title, this "rupture comes after creating a tsunami in a glass of water, turning a minor problem into a conflict without return".
Before wondering: "Would PSG have done so if Messi had won one of the two Champions Leagues he played" under the colors of the club? Isn't it more this disappointment that weighed in the balance than that of seeing him miss a clean-up session? Above all, "why such intransigence today, when at the beginning of the year he was authorized to extend his vacation in Rosario? »
La Nacion concludes with a tackle on a club which "have long wanted to establish themselves as an essential member of the big European clubs, but remain strange and unpredictable, with outbursts of omnipotence which seem to protect their pride more than rationality".
PSG's 'animosity' towards Barça
In Spain, too, and more particularly in Catalonia, we defend the Argentinian. For the Barcelona newspaper Mundo deportivo, the thing is even very simple: the player "dragged his feet regarding PSG's renewal proposals", but "FC Barcelona no longer hides its interest in recovering Leo from the 1st July in order to close the wound of his unexplained departure in 2021". And it is indeed "this interest, given the well-known animosity of the Parisian club towards [Barça] for different episodes of the transfer window, [which] also influenced the furious reaction of the Parisian club towards of Argentina".
Asked at a press conference, FC Barcelona coach and ex-teammate of Messi, Xavi Hernandez, kicked him into touch: "With Leo, I don't know what happened. I can't say. “If the Catalan press, like some of the socios, do not hide their desire to see the prodigal son return to Camp Nou, the situation is a little more complicated. And the Argentinian's future could well be played in Major League Soccer, in the United States, or in Saudi Arabia, alongside his "rival" Cristiano Ronaldo.
On Wednesday, the "Pulga" (the "flea") was once again absent from the training session at Camp des Loges. Everything seems to be heading towards a divorce between the world champion and the club he joined in August 2021, after 31 goals scored and 33 assists delivered in the Parisian jersey. On June 30, the seven-time Ballon d'Or will be free of any contract and will have the cards in hand to prepare for his transfer.
And La Nacion summarizes, sarcastically: "When Messi takes stock of his two seasons in France, his biggest smile will be when he remembers the moment when he realized his biggest dream: to be world champion with the Argentinian selection. . »