PARIS (AP) — Lionel Messi arrived two years ago wearing a shirt emblazoned with “Ici C’est Paris” (This is Paris), a favorite cry among Paris Saint-Germain fans, and chants of “Messi! Messi! Messi!” The soccer superstar will leave the team in
PARIS (AP) — Lionel Messi arrived two years ago wearing a shirt emblazoned with “Ici C’est Paris” (This is Paris), a favorite cry among Paris Saint-Germain fans, and chants of “Messi! Messi! Messi!”
The soccer superstar will leave the team on the not-so-revered Saturday.
The cheers have been replaced by jeers and jeers in recent weeks at the Parc des Princes, where the World Cup winner will play his last game with the French league champions.
Christophe Galtier confirmed on Thursday that the coming season finale is also the end of Messi’s time at PSG.
Messi will retire in their league final against Clermont on Saturday. His contract expires at the end of June.
“I had the privilege of coaching the best player in the history of soccer,” Galtier said. “This will be his last match at the Parc des Princes and I hope he receives the warmest of welcomes.”
PSG recruited Messi in August 2021 with the ambition of finally winning the Champions League. The team is still waiting.
Although PSG won their 11th French league title last weekend, they came out of Europe’s biggest tournament again in the round of 16.
Messi’s adventure in France has been bittersweet. Despite fairly good stats, he has embodied the team’s shortcomings in full view of many PSG fans who have sarcastically hissed his name repeatedly in recent weeks.
After struggling to adjust to the French league – the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner scoring just six league goals in his first 26 games – Messi has improved this season by developing an efficient understanding with striker Kylian Mbappe.
In 31 league games, the 35-year-old Messi has 16 goals and has given the same number of assists. In all competitions, Messi has scored 21 times and provided 20 assists for PSG.
“This year he has been an important part of the team, always available, always committed during training,” Galtier said. “I don’t think any of the comments or criticisms are justified.”
Despite Galtier’s support, PSG’s appreciation of Messi has not always been so positive.
He was suspended by the club last month following an unauthorized trip to Saudi Arabia. Messi has a business contract with Saudi Arabia to promote tourism and has been linked with a lucrative move there at the end of the season.
There has also been talk of a return to Barcelona, where he spent most of his career, or to the United States to play in MLS.
Messi arrived at Barcelona at the age of 13 and left with 35 titles won. He helped the club win all four Champions Leagues, 10 Spanish leagues and seven Copas del Rey.
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The Associated Press