Leo Messi close to agreeing new two-year deal with PSG
The Argentina captain is currently on vacation after winning the World Cup and has reached an agreement in principle to renew with the Parisians with an eye on the 2024 Copa América
Having secured his career dream of delivering a World Cup to Argentina 36 years after Diego Maradona led the Albiceleste to glory in Mexico, Leo Messi has begun to turn his attention to the next challenge after scaling soccer’s Everest. Meanwhile, Argentineans have started to fear that making good on his status as one of the greatest – many argue the greatest – players of all time may have taken the oxygen out of Messi’s continued ambition. “Let’s hope the French don’t do to Leo what the Italians did to Diego,” is a common refrain. Maradona, one of two or three players alongside Messi in the all-time debate, did not last long in Serie A after the 1990 World Cup, where he scored the winning penalty in a semi-final shootout against host nation Italy after an ill-tempered encounter: he played his final game for Napoli in March 1991. However, that does not appear to be Messi’s fate, despite his brilliant display in the final in Qatar to extinguish the best efforts of France’s star forward and his PSG teammate, Kylian Mbappé.
The Parisian club – who are owned by Qatar Sports Investments, a subsidiary of the country’s sovereign wealth fund – have tabled an offer for Messi to extend his contract beyond June 2023, when it is due to expire. EL PAÍS understands that an agreement in principle is in place and that an official announcement will be made when Messi returns to the Parc des Princes after his vacation. The Argentina captain appears keen to remain in Paris and help the club to achieve its own long-standing dream of winning the Champions League, a goal that has eluded PSG despite vast investment. Now 35, securing the World Cup has given Messi renewed energy to continue competing at the highest level, with the Copa América on the horizon. The 2024 edition of the continental tournament was due to be hosted by Ecuador, but the Andean nation has elected to decline the invitation. Argentina has emerged as a front-runner to step in. It is unlikely – if not impossible – that Messi will feature at the 2026 World Cup and a swansong on home soil to defend the title Argentina won in 2021 has a clear appeal.
After seeing two of their star players in the World Cup final, PSG want the show to go on and Messi seems willing to accept. After a difficult period of adaptation in Ligue 1, Messi and his family are now happy and settled in the French capital. PSG made an offer of a one-year extension with an option for a extra year, which would extend Messi’s current deal potentially to 2025. If there were any doubts about his performances – France Football did not include Messi in the 30-player shortlist for the 2022 Ballon d’Or – Qatar has dispelled them. With the weight of World Cup expectations off his shoulder, Messi can concentrate on delivering PSG’s objective and securing a fifth Champions League title to add to his triumphs at Barcelona (2006, 2009, 2011 and 2015.) Despite talk of a reunion with his former teammate Xavi at Camp Nou, Barça now appear to have given up on luring their former talisman back to Catalonia, leaving the way clear for PSG to secure Messi’s services until, theoretically, he retires (although a sentimental return to his boyhood club Newell’s has often been mentioned).
Major League Soccer still hopes to see Messi adorn the USA’s top division at some stage and there is an option for Mexico or US Soccer to potentially host the 2024 Copa América as a warm-up tournament for the 2026 World Cup, which will be staged by those two nations and Canada. That may prove a lure for Messi, but should Argentina end up securing hosting rights for 2024, Newell’s may fancy their chances of squeezing a final season out of their former youth player, who left the club in 2000 to sign for Barcelona.
Sign up for our weekly newsletter to get more English-language news coverage from EL PAÍS USA Edition