Lionel Messi will officially leave Paris Saint-Germain after season

Lionel Messi played two seasons for Paris Saint-Germain. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Lionel Messi played two seasons for Paris Saint-Germain. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

The Lionel Messi era at Paris Saint-Germain is officially over, the club confirmed Saturday before their match with Clermont Foot.

Speculation around Messi's future in France reached its apex Thursday when PSG coach Christophe Galtier thanked Messi for his time with the club and noted that his last game would be Saturday against Clermont Foot.

“I had the privilege of coaching the best player in the history of soccer," Galtier said. "This will be his last match at the Parc des Princes, and I hope that he will receive the warmest of welcomes."

PSG retracted the statement later that day, but seemingly not the action of letting Messi's two-year contract expire.

"I would like to thank Leo Messi for his two seasons in Paris," PSG Chairman and CEO Nasser Al-Khelaïfi said in a statement Saturday. "To see a seven-time Ballon d’Or winner in the Rouge & Bleu and at Parc des Princes, winning back-to-back Ligue 1 titles and inspiring our younger players has been a pleasure. His contribution to Paris Saint-Germain and Ligue 1 cannot be understated and we wish Leo and his family all the best for the future."

"I would like to thank the club, the city of Paris and its people for these two years. I wish you all the best for the future," Messi said in the statement.

Messi, who'll be 36 at the end of June, joined Paris Saint-Germain in 2021 after an illustrious 17-season career at Barcelona FC. Though he scored 22 goals and assisted on 30 more in 57 matches, Messi's relationship with PSG soured when he skipped training for an unauthorized visit to Saudi Arabia. The club suspended Messi, who later apologized. But that didn't stop the rumors of his potential departure.

And now, we know Messi's future won't be in France.

Speculation on Messi's next club included a reported $400 million contract offer to leave Europe for Saudi Arabian club Al Hilal — something Messi's father later denied. A move to the Middle East would set Messi on a path to meet ex-La Liga and Real Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who inked a reported nine-figure deal with Saudi Arabian club Al-Nassr earlier this year. A potential Barcelona reunion and even a flirtation with MLS' Inter Miami also sound like viable options, and football insider Fabrizio Romano reported that other European clubs are also in the mix for Messi.

Messi finally added a World Cup to his trophy case in December after he led Argentina to a victory over France. One of the greatest players of all time, he has also won seven Ballon d'Ors, four Champions League titles, 11 domestic league championships and eight La Liga Best Player awards.