Lionel Messi makes unapproved trip to Saudi Arabia hours after PSG's loss to Lorient

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Lionel Messi PSG 2022-23
Lionel Messi’s visit to Saudi Arabia that came hours after PSG’s shock defeat to Lorient was reportedly not approved by coach Christophe Galtier.
  • Ligue 1 giants stunned on home soil
  • Argentine icon headed off with family
  • Speculation raging regarding his future

WHAT HAPPENED? The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner played the full 90 minutes for Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday as they suffered a historic 3-1 loss on home soil. The Argentine did not hang around afterwards, with the decision taken to head away with his family.

THE BIGGER PICTURE: L’Equipe claims that PSG boss Galtier, along with football advisor Luis Campos, opposed a trip to the Middle East, but Messi went above their heads and got permission from the club’s Qatari board. That allowed him to complete a trip that is considered to form part of his commitments as an ambassador for Saudi Arabia as they bid to host the 2030 World Cup.

AND WHAT'S MORE: Messi, who has seen a move to the Middle East speculated on that would reunite him with eternal rival Cristiano Ronaldo, posted on social media of his break outside of France: “Who thought Saudi has so much green? I love to explore its unexpected wonders whenever I can.” The Minister of Tourism of Saudi Arabia, Ahmed Al-Khateeb, responded by saying: “I am happy to welcome Saudi Tourism Ambassador Lionel Messi and his family on his second vacation in Saudi. We are happy to share our authentic Saudi welcome with you all #WelcomeMessi.”

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Lionel Messi PSG 2022-23

Cristiano Ronaldo Al-Nassr 2023

WHAT NEXT? Messi continues to generate intense speculation regarding his future, as his contract at PSG runs down towards free agency, with the 35-year-old World Cup winner being linked with a return to Barcelona, a switch to MLS or a move to join Al-Nassr superstar Ronaldo in Saudi Arabia.