Football superstar Lionel Messi is facing disciplinary action – possibly suspension – from Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) for taking a trip to Saudi Arabia without the club’s permission, French and international media have reported.
The reports of a possible two-week suspension mean Messi could miss PSG’s next two games and comes at a delicate time as the French club hopes to extend the Argentinian star’s contract beyond this season, the Associated Press news agency reported on Wednesday.
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French media outlets L’Equipe and RMC Sport reported the suspension on Tuesday without citing sources.
A source with knowledge of the issue told the AP that the French club had denied Messi’s request to make the trip to Saudi Arabia where the 35-year-old has a commercial contract to promote tourism.
The World Cup champion will not be allowed to train or play with the team and will not be paid during his suspension, the source told AP.
Messi led Argentina to the World Cup title in December. He has also scored 15 league goals and leads the French league with 15 assists.
Messi has not commented publicly about the reported suspension on his social media accounts.
The reported suspension comes at a delicate time as the French club had hoped to extend the Argentinian star’s contract beyond this season.
Reports of Messi’s trip to Saudi Arabia followed PSG’s surprise 3-1 loss to Lorient on Sunday, leaving the defending champions with a five-point lead over Marseille with five games left in the season. Messi played the full game.
A club source indicated that the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner would “probably” be sidelined for two weeks, noting that “nobody is more important than the club”, the Agence France-Presse news agency reported.
Messi, who will turn 36 in June, played in PSG’s 3-1 home defeat by Lorient in Ligue 1 on Sunday, AFP reported. He then travelled to Saudi Arabia to fulfil commitments as part of a contract with the country’s tourist office.
As a result, Messi missed a training session pencilled in for Monday after the weekend defeat, before the PSG squad were given a day off on Tuesday.
The source with knowledge of the matter said the Argentinian would not take part in training on Wednesday either.
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.
Messi joined PSG from Barcelona two years ago in hopes he could lead the team to an elusive Champions League title. Instead, PSG was 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.