Lionel Messi never seemed overjoyed to join PSG, and the feeling appears to be mutual when Messi reportedly sets to leave PSG.
PSG and Messi’s marriage of convenience becomes worse
Messi’s tearful farewell press conference in Spain made it abundantly clear that he would have preferred to stay at Barcelona rather than move to Paris in 2021.
There was a sense, however, that he could find happiness at his new club, leading them to Champions League glory and becoming a hero among the Parc des Princes faithful in the process.
Almost two years later, however, that dream appears to be further away than ever, with both success and support in short supply for the Argentine.
There was plenty of talk about Messi being unhappy at the club ahead of the match against Rennes, with reports of him leaving training early after refusing to participate in an exercise and meeting with Barcelona president Joan Laporta to discuss the possibility of a return to Camp Nou.
Clearly, PSG fans had read such reports, because when his name was read out by the stadium announcer as he ran through the starting XI prior to kick-off, he was met with some boos.
Messi could leave PSG soon
Following their defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League Round of 16, they were already dissatisfied with the man they’d hoped would establish them as one of the best clubs in the world, and talk of him not being fully invested had only fueled the fire.
It was unclear whether the 35-year-old was aware of the boos, but he played like a man who was as his team suffered a deserved 2-0 defeat.
He was still the home team’s best forward going forward, which isn’t saying much given how bad his teammates were, but he never seemed to get out of second gear, instead simply going through the motions with a disinterested air.
While he made some excellent passes near the end, creating a few chances, he frequently lazily passed the ball to someone else after receiving it, as if he couldn’t be bothered to do anything else.
Despite seeing a lot of the ball and often having space ahead of him, he only attempted five dribbles in the entire game, which is ten fewer than he did in PSG’s previous home game.
He also took three fewer shots, and when the last of them flew harmlessly over the bar in the closing stages, it was clear that his fans were even more dissatisfied with him now than they were at the start of the match, with his effort met by even louder boos than those heard only a few hours earlier.
There was no doubt Messi had heard these, because while the majority of his teammates, including Kylian Mbappe, apologized to the home crowd after the final whistle, he went straight down the tunnel.
Messi has never had the same connection with Barcelona fans as he does with his own, but things had never been this bad before, even after the team blew a first-leg lead against Real Madrid last year.
The fallout comes as both he and the club consider whether to extend their relationship, with his current contract expiring at the end of the season.
The Ligue 1 champions have always been expected to keep him if they can, but with the fans turning against him and Mbappe reportedly pushing to be the star man, they may start to reconsider.
But, in the end, it may not matter what the club does because it’s becoming increasingly unlikely that he’ll want to stay beyond the current season.
Given Barcelona’s financial problems, it’s unclear where he’ll go, but one thing is certain: the French Connection is all but gone.