Lionel Messi’s final game for PSG ends in defeat – as speculation ramps up over his next move
Lionel Messi’s final game for Paris St Germain – and possibly his last outing in European football – ended in defeat on Saturday.
The Ligue 1 champions were beaten 3-2 at home to Clermont on a warm evening, having given up a two goal lead handed to them by French forward Kylian Mbappe and departing Spanish defender Sergio Ramos.
It was not the way Messi would have wished to bow out – he also failed to get on the scoresheet, and was jeered by some home fans at the Parc des Princes when the stadium announcer read out his name before kick-off.
The 35-year-old Argentinian will leave the French capital this summer when his contract expires, and is being strongly linked with a big money move to Saudi Arabian club Al-Hilal.
It would put him back in the same league as his old rival Cristiano Ronaldo, with whom he locked horns on many occasions when the pair played for Barcelona and Real Madrid in La Liga.
Ronaldo became the highest paid player in world football when he moved to Al-Nassr in December, having departed Manchester United in ignominious fashion midway through the season.
Al-Hilal are reportedly willing to give Messi an even higher wage, potentially north of £300m a year.
A return to Barcelona?
Messi has also been linked with a return to Barcelona, his only previous club, where he made more than 500 appearances and scored almost as many goals.
The Catalan giants have endured extreme financial difficulties in recent years, and let Messi go on a free transfer two years ago after falling into more than £1bn of debt.
It remains to be seen how the club could finance a deal for Messi, with any offer likely to be blown out of the water by any propositions from Saudi Arabia.
Messi’s mixed record in Paris
Ahead of his final game in Paris, Messi walked on to the field with his three children.
“I would like to thank the club, the city of Paris and its people for these two years,” he told the club website.
“I wish you all the best for the future.”
Messi has won two league titles and a French Champions trophy in his time at PSG, scoring 32 goals.
He scored his 496th career league goal last month, breaking Ronaldo’s record for Europe’s top five divisions.
But his relationship with the Qatar-backed club and its fans has soured since he won the World Cup in December, his form having dipped and his side crashing out of the Champions League.
He was also suspended by PSG after an unauthorised trip to Saudi Arabia, where he has a commercial deal to promote tourism.