PARIS (AP) — Lionel Messi and Paris Saint-Germain will have discussions about the Argentine player’s immediate future with the club when he returns from suspension, coach Christophe Galtier said Friday.
The World Cup champion was suspended by the club this week after he skipped practice to make a promotional trip to Saudi Arabia.
Messi is not expected to extend his contract, and there are only five games remaining this season.
Galtier was asked at a news conference if he’ll be able to count on the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner returning to the field after the suspension.
“We’ll see when Leo returns what will happen,” Galtier said. “Obviously, there will be discussions with the entire club but also with Leo, who is the primary person involved.”
The club hasn’t confirmed the length of the Argentina great’s suspension but French media has reported it to be two weeks, which would mean he’d miss two games. PSG has a five-point lead over second-place Marseille.
Galtier said the club told him that Messi had been suspended, and he declined to say if he endorsed the decision.
“I did not have to make the decision,” the coach said. “I was informed of the decision.”
The 35-year-old Messi joined PSG in 2021 after winning every major honor with Barcelona. The Catalan club that Messi had called home from the age of 13 couldn’t afford to keep him because of large debts and Spanish league financial regulations.
The French club and its fans had hoped that Messi’s arrival would result in an elusive Champions League title. Instead, the Qatari-backed club was eliminated in the round of 16 in consecutive seasons.
One of the game’s all-time greats had been welcomed into Paris with a police escort. His departure is sure to be less glorious. Reports have linked Messi to Inter Miami in MLS, a return to Barcelona and a lucrative move to Saudi Arabia.
Some PSG fans are also urging forward Neymar to leave the club.
For Galtier, though, fans crossed the line when they protested outside the Brazil international’s residence this week.
“Private life must remain private,” he said. “I can understand the anger, the disappointment of our fans. I can understand protesting here at our workplace, in front of PSG’s headquarters, after a match at Parc des Princes.”
But going to private homes is “out of control and dangerous,” he said.
Neymar had season-ending surgery on his right ankle in March.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports