'A total fiasco' - Lionel Messi's Paris Saint-Germain transfer driven by nothing but money from start to finish

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Lionel Messi PSG 2022-23 HIC 16:9
The Argentine may be the greatest player of all time, but he's sadly come to symbolise everything that's wrong with the Qatari-backed club

On Thursday afternoon, Paris Saint-Germain coach Christophe Galtier finally confirmed the worst-kept secret in football: Lionel Messi will play his final match for the club this weekend, against Clermont. It won't be a fond farewell.

Galtier was grateful for having had the opportunity to work with "the best player in the history of football" - and while the fans wouldn't dispute that claim, they have a very different view of the Argentine. As far as they are concerned, Messi is the personification of PSG's problems, the most miserable manifestation of the Qatari's club's obsession with superstar signings that come to Parc des Princes for nothing other than money.

He may have scored 32 goals in two seasons, and provided ample evidence of his enduring genius, but the majority of supporters don't feel blessed to have had the chance to watch The GOAT in action; they mostly feel used.

  1. 'Messi doesn't win us anything!'
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    'Messi doesn't win us anything!'

    In their eyes, it is no coincidence that they only saw something resembling the very best version of Messi in the run-up to the 2022 World Cup. The pervading feeling is that PSG primarily served as a springboard, allowing Messi to arrive in Qatar in optimal physical condition.

    "The joke is that we saw his matches in Qatar, I saw his movements, how he invested himself," former PSG winger Jerome Rothen fumed on RMC Sport after the pathetically tame Champions League last-16 exit in Munich. "And I don't mind that, considering it's the national team jersey, a separate thing, but hey, respect the club in the [French] capital a little, the one which allows you to maintain a status and salary.

    "Only PSG could give him all of that and, obviously, PSG fell at his feet because they thought Messi was going to help us win [the Champions League]. But he doesn't win us anything!" At least nothing of real consequence.

  2. Insignificant, inevitable Ligue 1 titles

    Insignificant, inevitable Ligue 1 titles

    PSG won back-to-back to Ligue 1 titles with Messi but, honestly, so what? Just look at the reaction to those inevitable victories. The fans were so disgusted by last season's Champions League capitulation in Madrid that they skipped the club's subsequent title celebrations at Parc des Princes. Some players felt that was disrespectful - but not one dared complain this year, given the meekness of their European exit.

    They know full well that such a high-spending club has to be held to higher standards. The success of a season is determined by Champions League results - and the same simply has to be said of Messi's transfer. There were also numerous commercial considerations but, ostensibly, that's why he was signed: to help PSG win a first European Cup.

    It was also his stated reason for joining. Messi felt that PSG offered him his best shot at winning a fifth Champions League. In reality, though, it was more to do with the fact that they were the only elite side willing to meet his wage demands.

  3. Understandable fan fury

    Understandable fan fury

    Let's face it, Messi could have joined a better-run and better-equipped club to challenge for the club game's top trophy, but he followed the money - and the fans were aware of that from early on. They noted that the only time he came to acknowledge their support after a game, he had been pressured into doing so by his good friend and team-mate Neymar.

    Has some of the criticism he's come in for been over the top? Undoubtedly. Some supporters have also gone way too far in expressing their dissatisfaction with both Messi and Neymar. However, Messi has never come close to investing as much in PSG as they did in him, meaning this has always felt more like a transaction than a transfer, one that didn't benefit the fans in any way.

  4. The Messi effect
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    The Messi effect

    PSG obviously received a significant boost on a commercial level. As PSG's sponsorship director, Marc Armstrong, told GOAL in December 2021, "We have really felt an impact in all of our business areas: from sponsorship and merchandising to hospitality and ticketing.

    "The club also gained 20 million new subscribers to their social media accounts in the week which followed his arrival. We had the highest engagement rate in the history of player announcements," Armstrong enthused.

    These impressive numbers explain why PSG were initially so keen to keep Messi for another season. He was utterly integral to a brand built on high-profile players. "Messi was more of a marketing deal than a sporting signing," one fan recently told GOAL's Marc Mechenoua. "He ended up representing everything we hate about the QSI project for the past three or four years."

  5. A fittingly farcical suspension

    A fittingly farcical suspension

    Former Argentina international Javier Mascherano recently blasted the fans for "not realising that they were lucky to have Leo on their team" and that "instead of enjoying it, they have spent these two years criticising him". And, in a way, Messi was the wrong guy in the wrong place at the wrong time. He arrived at Parc des Princes just as the fans were beginning to fully comprehend the folly of the owners' approach to squad-building.

    At the end of the day, though, Messi must accept his share of the responsibility for what Rothen rightly regards as a "total fiasco" of a transfer, the farcical nature of which was best summed up by the World Cup winner being suspended for fulfilling a commercial engagement in Saudi Arabia.

  6. Goodbye? More like good riddance!
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    Goodbye? More like good riddance!

    In that sense, it's been a most modern affair, all about money from start to finish, and while Barcelona's financial problems may have forced him out of Camp Nou, nobody made Messi move to PSG.

    It's proven a dreadful decision, the worst of his career. When he left Barca, there were tears and tributes. At Parc des Princes on Saturday, though, there will be more jeers than cheers.

    After two trying years, the majority of fans sadly won't be there to say goodbye to Lionel Messi; they'll be there to say good riddance.