Lionel Messi has rejected Paris Saint Germain’s contract renewal offer and is open to a move to the MLS or a return to FC Barcelona, according to reports.
The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner signed a two-year deal with PSG when leaving FC Barcelona in the summer of 2021, which came with the option of an additional season.
It was expected that he would renew terms at the Parc des Princes before June 30, however after reports emerged that Messi had grown tired of locker room ‘instability’ and was considering moving on, L’Equipe claims that the Argentine has turned down the chance to extend for the extra year.
This was reportedly done in a meeting in Paris where his father and agent Jorge Messi would have been present. The Qatari-backed giants want Messi to exercise his option to extend, but also reduce his salary reported to be around €30mn ($32mn) per season to navigate Financial Fair Play regulations.
With Messi’s camp aware that the pay he is accustomed to would not be maintained, they do not want the 35-year-old to sign the agreement and instead look beyond Paris for his next destination.
The French media claims that Messi will prioritize heading to the MLS and most probably Inter Miami if an agreement isn’t reached with PSG, who hope to sit down with Jorge Messi again and try and reach a compromise.
It is said that Messi would also be open to hearing any proposals FC Barcelona might have for him, but so far there hasn’t been any contact from president Joan Laporta and his board.
If accurate, the news doesn’t come as too much of a surprise given Messi’s age and the current issues plaguing PSG. The Parisians have lost their last three games, are on the verge of crashing out of the Champions League, and are beset by alleged rifts behind the scenes between certain players and sporting director Luis Campos.
Messi also never wished to leave FC Barcelona, and did it in tears in a memorable press conference after Barca failed to navigate La Liga’s strict salary cap and offer him a new contract.
But with Barca facing a similar issue two years on, and the Spanish top flight’s president Javier Tebas warning them they must reduce their wage bill by €200mn ($213.6mn) ahead of 2023/2024, it seems impropable the Catalans will be able to offer him anything close to what he currently takes home from PSG.
Also possible is a move to Saudi Arabia, with Al-Hilal reported to be willing to offer Messi a mouthwatering $350mn a year deal to continue his career there.
If this was forthcoming and Messi accepted, he would be set to top Forbes’ list of the World’s Highest-Paid Soccer Players headed by PSG teammate Kylian Mbappe in 2022.