Lionel Messi suspended by PSG for two weeks over unauthorised trip to Saudi Arabia

Footballer has a commercial contract to promote tourism in the kingdom but L'Equipe reported that club turned down holiday request

Lionel Messi will miss PSG's next two games after being suspended by the club over an unauthorised family holiday to Saudi Arabia. AFP
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Paris Saint-Germain have suspended Lionel Messi for taking an unauthorised family holiday in Saudi Arabia and the Argentine has been told he will not have his contract renewed, according to French sports daily L'Equipe.

Messi, 35, has a commercial contract with Saudi Arabia to promote tourism in the country but L'Equipe reported that his request to take a family holiday in the kingdom was denied by his club.

Messi and his family arrived in Riyadh on Monday. Messi, his wife Antonela Roccuzzo and their sons spent their holiday visiting a Saudi farm, watching a palm-weaving demonstration and enjoying cultural activities.

The Argentine superstar's contract has an optional third-season clause from when he first arrived in 2021, though it has long been speculated he will not extend his stay at the Parc des Princes.

A two-week suspension means Messi will miss PSG's next two games, against Troyes and Ajaccio, but may return for the match against Auxerre on May 21.

PSG are top of the Ligue 1 standings with 75 points from 33 matches, five ahead of rivals Marseille. Messi started in PSG’s 3-1 home defeat by Lorient on Sunday.

L'Equipe had reported that PSG coach Christophe Galtier pledged to give his players two days off – Monday and Tuesday – if they beat Lorient. Instead, the team trained on Monday and had Tuesday off.

The forward joined PSG from Barcelona two years ago with hopes he could lead the team to an elusive Champions League title. Instead, the Qatari-backed club were eliminated in the round of 16 in consecutive seasons.

There has been speculation about where he would play next, especially after reports that contract talks with PSG had broken down. Some PSG fans have even booed Messi amid the team's inconsistent campaign.

Messi led Argentina to the World Cup title in December. He has scored 15 league goals and leads the French league with 15 assists this season.

He has been linked with a move back to former club Barcelona as well as a lucrative move to Saudi Arabia, with respected football journalist Fabrizio Romano last month reporting that Al Hilal were preparing a mega offer of €400 million ($441 million) a year.

Messi has yet to comment publicly about the suspension.

Updated: May 03, 2023, 7:42 AM