Lionel Messi has been suspended for two weeks by Paris Saint-Germain and will be fined after taking an unauthorised trip to Saudi Arabia.
The 35-year-old forward did not report to training with PSG on Monday following the club’s 3-1 defeat to Lorient as he was in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s capital city.
PSG’s sanction has been imposed with immediate effect, and Messi will not be permitted to enter the club’s facilities during the two-week period. He is likely to miss the Ligue 1 games against Troyes and Ajaccio.
Messi has a multi-million pound deal with Saudi – who want to host the 2030 World Cup – to promote tourism in the country but PSG have been left angered by the player prioritising that work over his commitments to them.
The club were determined to make an example of the player, regardless of his status in the sport, as they crack down on discipline within the squad.
Saudi minister of tourism Ahmed Al Khateeb tweeted on Monday: “I am happy to welcome #Messi and his family to Saudi to enjoy the magical tourist destinations and authentic experiences. We welcome visitors from all around the world to experience a unique trip to Saudi Arabia and its hospitality.”
Messi’s future at PSG beyond the 2022-23 season is uncertain. He joined the club from Barcelona in the summer of 2021 on a two-year contract worth €30million per year. The deal includes the option of a third year at the same rate if both parties agree to trigger the extension, but it remains unclear whether it will be triggered or not.
PSG want to rebuild around Kylian Mbappe and younger French talent, which is likely to leave Messi surplus to requirements.