Multiple reporters writing for The Athletic published a revealing article on Tuesday morning regarding the future of Lionel Messi in Paris. According to them, the Argentine world champion wants to stay in the French capital for another year, although he still wants assurances of the plan the club will follow going forward.
On Friday, Jorge Messi, the Argentinian forward’s father, posted a dramatic message on his Instagram story alerting people about some "dangerous" news he labeled as being "fake.". The post highlighted three stories that had circulated around Messi of late: one suggesting PSG would not accept Messi's demands, another saying Messi had requested €600m to go to Al Hilal (Saudi Arabia), and another claiming Messi had left a training session early after a confrontation with coach Christophe Galtier.
Regarding that last story, it is true that Messi left a training session early last week, but it was due to pain in his adductor muscle. He then performed a gym session a day later, and he resumed normal and collective training after that.
Several independent sources said Messi was disgruntled during a training session, although the French publication RMC Sport reported that Messi "took issue" with a training drill in which he would have had an argument with Galtier.
All of this drama comes in the middle of the (supposed) contract negotiations taking place between Messi's entourage and PSG for an extension of his playing days in Paris.
Lionel Messi favors staying in Paris but he wants future guarantees
Messi’s situation is straightforward when it comes to his contract. In the summer of 2021, he joined PSG from Barcelona on a two-year contract, worth €30m per year. The deal included the option of a third year (2023-24 season) at the same rate, although both parties must agree on that option in order for it to be executed. That option is different from the one present in Mbappe's deal, as in that case, the France world champion is the only part that matters and the one who can decide by himself if he wants to execute the option or not, no matter the opinion of PSG.
In January, Messi looked very likely to extend his deal and PSG were pushing hard to make it happen. Now that Paris Saint-Germain have crashed out of the Champions League exit at the hands of Bayern, though, things have changed.
There is also the financial angle to consider by PSG in terms of keeping Messi in tow or not. According to The Athletic, "those close to PSG have claimed Messi’s transfer has paid for itself" in terms of the revenue generated by the player after his arrival in the capital. Most concerning, though, are his salary implications. "Allowing him to leave would open up some wiggle room in their Financial Fair Play (FFP) calculations," sources are quoted saying and reasoning as the main idea on PSG's mind these days if they ultimately try to let Messi go.
There is a feeling within Messi’s camp that "they do not know what the PSG project will look like," and that is the main reason for delaying negotiations and making it difficult for the player to make a final decision.
With the future of manager Christophe Galtier, defender Sergio Ramos (a free agent next June), and star Mbappe up in the air, there is "a lack of clarity" that, according to The Athletic, "was not eased by that first in-person meeting" between PSG and Messi in January. Messi is interested in knowing more about the future of the club and how they plan to invest in the squad in future transfer windows, most pressingly the upcoming one starting in July.
There was confidence in the United States during the World Cup that Messi might make the jump to Major League Soccer, but Messi is reportedly interested in "another year fighting for trophies in Europe," as that is considered by the Argentine to be "more appealing" for him now than before. A return to Argentina, and his first club in Newell’s Old Boys, of Rosario, seems "more distant than ever," reports The Athletic, citing the shooting outside a supermarket earlier this month in Rosario that included threats pointing directly to Messi.
"As things stand," finishes The Athletic's report, "those close to Messi are planning personal and commercial matters with a view to staying in Paris." With barely three months left until Messi's deal run out, PSG and the Argentine better ramp up their efforts to reach an agreement whether that is for the World Cup winner to go (we hope) or stay (we hope not) in the French capital for another year.