A source with knowledge of the situation told AFP on Tuesday that Lionel Messi risks a suspension from Paris Saint-Germain for traveling to Saudi Arabia earlier this week without authorization from the team.
The World Cup champion captain of Argentina, whose contract expires at the conclusion of the current campaign, will be suspended for “several days,” according to the source, despite reports in French media that he would serve a two-week sentence.
He won't be paid while disciplinary procedures are in effect, the source said, and he can't practice or play.
Considering that “nobody is more important than the club,” another club insider predicted that the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner will “probably” miss a fortnight of action.
Messi participated in PSG's 3-1 home loss to Lorient in Ligue 1 on Sunday. Messi will be 36 in June.
In order to fulfill his obligations under a contract with the Saudi Arabian tourism board, he next traveled there.
Messi thus skipped a workout scheduled for Monday after the weekend loss, before the PSG team had a day off on Tuesday.
The Argentine would not participate in practice on Wednesday either, according to the knowledgeable source.
Messi may now be unable to play when PSG returns to league play on Sunday at struggling Troyes.
If he was out for two weeks, he would also miss the team's May 13 home game against Ajaccio.
The punishments make it even less likely that Messi will remain in Paris when his two-year contract ends at the conclusion of this season.
A club source told AFP last month that although it had once seemed as if he would remain another year, it was now “much more likely” that he will leave at the conclusion of the current season.
Messi moved to Paris in 2021 from Barcelona, but he has had trouble maintaining his greatest performance, scoring 31 goals in 71 games in all competitions.
A segment of the PSG fanbase has started jeering at him because they believe he represents everything the club has done wrong by concentrating on superstar acquisitions rather than developing a really competitive squad.
This season, Messi has scored 20 goals in all competitions, and he leads Ligue 1 with 15 assists.
But since guiding Argentina to World Cup victory in Qatar, his performance has slipped, and so has that of the group.
Six losses in 17 Ligue 1 games for PSG in 2023 were brought on by their lackluster effort against Lorient.
With five games remaining, they are still on track to win a record-tying 11th French championship since they are still five points ahead of Marseille at the top of the standings.
However, Bayern Munich eliminated them from the Champions League in the round of 16, and Marseille eliminated them from the French Cup at the same stage.