Lionel Messi is “much more likely” to leave Paris Saint-Germain at the end of the season than sign a new contract, according to a source close to the club.
“The dynamics have completely changed with PSG less pushing to renew (his contract),” the source said, adding that there was “no deal, no exit yet. But exit is much more likely.”
Messi, who will turn 36 in June, signed a two-year contract with Barcelona in 2021 that will expire at the end of this season.
Some PSG fans booed the Argentine’s name as the teams were announced before Sunday’s 1-0 home loss to Lyon in Ligue 1.
Supporters of the Qatar-owned club are dissatisfied with the team’s performance since they were knocked out of the Champions League in the last 16 by Bayern Munich last month.
PSG has lost eight times in 18 games in 2023, forcing them to withdraw from the French Cup early, despite remaining six points clear at the top of the French table.
“The fans have changed things completely,” the source said of the chances of Messi’s deal being renewed and the supporters’ reaction at the weekend.
Messi has scored 29 goals and set up 32 more in 67 appearances for PSG in all competitions.
Yet his form has dipped since he led Argentina to glory at the World Cup in Qatar at the end of last year.
Some fans see him as a symbol of everything wrong with the club’s focus on superstar signings while failing to build a truly competitive team.
Messi currently costs PSG around 40 million euros ($43.6 million) per year in wages, despite the fact that the club is required by UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules to offer him a new contract with a lower salary.
Barcelona has been openly courting Messi, hoping to entice him back to the Camp Nou two years after he left the club where he won four Champions League titles. He left Barcelona after the club was unable to renew his contract.
“I would love it if he returned,” Barca vice-president Rafael Yuste said last week as he admitted there had been “contact” with Messi.
He’s also been linked with a move to Major League Soccer, with Inter Miami reportedly interested in signing him.
If Messi leaves, PSG will be even more determined to keep Kylian Mbappe for at least another season, a year after convincing the France striker to sign a new contract and reject offers from Real Madrid.
In addition to the uncertainty surrounding Messi’s future, there are questions about coach Christophe Galtier, who was only appointed in July but has come under intense scrutiny following recent results.