The aftermath of Lionel Messi trip to Saudi Arabia
The fallout from Lionel Messi's unauthorized trip to Saudi Arabia continues and it seems to have no end in sight.
PSG took a strong stance by suspending the Argentina international for two weeks (although the concrete amount of days without pay is still unknown) with reports suggesting the suspension could be even longer and have further repercussions.
According to Le Parisien, Messi will not be allowed to train at Camp des Loges and has been banned from playing in the next two PSG games against Troyes and Ajaccio while Paris Saint-Germain try to win their 11th Ligue 1 title.
The French newspaper also suggests that Messi "could face a financial penalty," possibly in the form of a deduction from his ethics bonus or salary. The latter has nearly been confirmed by most media outlets, while the former measures are still unknown.
For a club that has been criticized in the past for prioritizing individual players over the team, PSG had to act firmly to enforce group rules and demonstrate its authority from top to bottom of the board.
Even for a player of Messi's stature, "breaking club rules could not be tolerated," quotes Le Parisien as the position of Paris Saint-Germain regarding Messi's unauthorized trip to Saudi Arabia at the start of the week.
The management of PSG reportedly "feels that the club has been made a laughingstock by the incident," adding that the situation got aggravated by the team's recent struggles in the league following their elimination from the Champions League and the Coupe de France earlier this season.
The unprecedented nature of the suspension is seen "as a symbol of the management's determination to establish discipline," writes Le Parisien.
Messi's absence from training on Monday surprised both Nasser Al-Khelaifi and Luis Campos, who were aware of the trip but did not give their consent for Messi to travel to Saudi Arabia, expecting the world champion to forfeit it and instead be present at the Camp des Loges.
The breach of trust is said to have justified the strong sanction imposed on the player, with PSG coach Christophe Galtier apparently unaware of the trip entirely and surely not willing to approve it had he known about it beforehand, same as Al-Khelaifi and Campos.
While the exact duration of Messi's suspension remains unknown, it is clear that the incident has raised questions about the player's future at PSG.
Reports suggest that Messi has been considering not exercising his option for an additional year and that PSG are not quite convinced of pursuing that avenue either.
The PSG board members operating from Doha are said to be keen on keeping Messi for another year, so there is a little bit of in-house fighting when it comes to deciding what to do with the world champion and whether or not to extend his presence in Paris for another year or to just let him go for free next July.
The real question remains whether Messi will ever wear the PSG jersey again following his current two-game suspension, as he and/or the club might opt to take the total-break route and not have him dress for the remainder of the season.
As the saga unfolds, it is clear that PSG will not tolerate any behavior that undermines the group or the club's reputation. The message is clear: everyone, even Lionel Messi, must follow the rules now and going forward.