Paris Saint-Germain have suspended Lionel Messi for the next two weeks without pay, adding a ban to that sanction that will prevent him from training at the club's facilities and appearing in PSG's next two games.
The two-week suspension arrived because of Messi's trip to Saudi Arabia following the loss to Lorient in the Ligue 1 last Sunday, which was confirmed to be an "unauthorized trip."
The veteran world champion left Paris at the start of the week and didn't attend a mandatory training session with PSG on Monday after the team's recent loss to Lorient (1-3) while he was in Riyadh, the capital city of Saudi Arabia, as part of a commercial, sponsored trip linked to the contract of Messi with the Middle Eastern country.
The suspension is effective immediately, and Messi will not be allowed to enter the club's facilities during the two-week period, forcing him out of the next two pivotal games of PSG's league season against Troyes and Ajaccio.
It was already known that Messi has a multi-million deal with Saudi Arabia (reportedly worth around €10m per year) to promote tourism in the country, as they aim to host the 2030 World Cup. Even then and with his current club knowing that, PSG was not pleased with the player prioritizing this over his commitments to the team, let alone after an atrocious league defeat.
PSG and their board wanted to set an example for the rest of the squad and crack down on discipline, regardless of Messi's status in the sport. This is markedly a new attitude barely seen from the Qatar-based board in the past and since they took over Paris Saint-Germain more than a decade ago.
On Monday, the Saudi minister of tourism Ahmed Al Khateeb tweeted a welcome message to Messi and his family, inviting them to enjoy the country's tourist destinations and hospitality. The minister had been silent on the social network for days prior to that.
Messi's future at PSG beyond the 2022-23 season is uncertain and in peril following this fine.
He joined the team from Barcelona in the summer of 2021 on a two-year contract worth €30m per year, with the option of a third year at the same rate if both parties agree to trigger the extension.
However, PSG plans to rebuild around younger French talent and Kylian Mbappe, which may leave Messi surplus to requirements, let alone not wanting to pay him as much as he's demanding (reportedly as much as he's earning already) while his production has vastly regressed in the recent times and after winning the World Cup.
This move surely marks the dawn of a new era in Paris considering the change in attitude shown by the club. Once considered "soft" and always surrendering to their glamorous superstars, it looks like PSG and the QSI-backed board are determined to put the clamps on everybody going forward, no matter their status, and impose their will without regard of what the repercusions could be.