Lionel Messi blamed for PSG's Champions League loss to Bayern: 'He disappears completely in matches that matter!'
- French giants out of Europe in last-16
- Argentine unable to inspire them
- Contract in Paris continues to run down
WHAT HAPPENED? That is hardly an accusation that has been levelled against the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner on a regular basis throughout his career, with the all-time great often playing a talismanic role for Barcelona and Argentina. He has, however, struggled to produce his best when it matters most for PSG, and Jerome Rothen believes that serious questions need to be asked of the South American’s commitment to the collective cause at Parc des Princes.
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WHAT THEY SAID: The former PSG star has told RMC Sport after seeing Christophe Galtier’s side suffer a 3-0 aggregate defeat to Bayern in the last-16 of this season’s Champions League: “Messi, we don't want it! He doesn't want to get involved in this club! He says he's 'acclimatised' now, but what are you acclimatised to?! You scored 18 goals or 16 assists this year against Angers and Clermont? But in the matches that matter, you disappear!
“The joke is that we saw his matches at the World Cup, I saw his movements, how he invested himself. I don't mind it, considering it's the national team jersey, a separate thing, but hey, respect the club in the capital a little, which allows you to maintain a status and salary. Only PSG could give him that and, obviously, PSG fell at his feet because they thought Messi was going to make us win [the Champions League]. But he doesn't win us anything!”
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Rothen has been critical of Messi’s performances throughout the 2022-23 campaign and has vowed not to attend another PSG game if the 35-year-old’s expiring contract is extended. He added: “Since I criticised him, I got dismantled on the social networks and even in Argentina. Come now, I'm waiting for you in these matches. Come and explain to me how Messi has been good. If tomorrow I learn that he is extending, I will no longer go to the Parc des Princes.”
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WHAT NEXT? Messi is yet to reveal his intentions for next season, with free agency beckoning in the summer, and he continues to generate rumours regarding a possible return to Barcelona or a move to MLS.