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PSG boss Galtier confirms Messi leaving club this summer


Lionel Messi will be the centerpiece of another transfer saga.

Two years since the artful Argentine attacker joined Paris Saint-Germain after leaving Barcelona, the 35-year-old will play his last match for PSG in Saturday's league visit from Clermont Foot. His contract expires on June 30.

"I had the privilege of coaching the best player in the history of football," PSG head coach Christophe Galtier said Thursday, according to BBC Sport.

"This will be his last match at the Parc des Princes, and I hope that he will receive the warmest of welcomes."

Messi added two Ligue 1 titles and France's Trophee des Champions to his collection of honors at Paris Saint-Germain but couldn't help the Qatari-owned club achieve its ultimate goal of winning the Champions League. PSG were eliminated at the competition's round-of-16 stage during both of Messi's seasons in the French capital.

The 2022 World Cup winner has scored 22 times and provided 30 assists over 57 Ligue 1 appearances. He also supplemented his remarkable individual European record with nine goals and four assists in 14 Champions League outings for PSG.

Messi has been linked with a return to Barcelona - the club where he hoarded four Champions League winners' medals, 10 La Liga titles, seven successes in the Copa del Rey, three Club World Cups, and plenty of other silverware before his emotional departure in 2021. It's also where he developed into one of the greatest players of all time, winning a record seven Ballon d'Ors.

"The door is open for him here," Barca boss Xavi, a former teammate of Messi, said recently, according to ESPN's Sam Marsden and Moises Llorens.

A tearful Messi said he wanted to stay at Barcelona when he left the club, claiming La Liga's financial rules meant the Blaugrana couldn't afford to keep him.

In addition to rumors of a return to Barcelona or a move to a wealthy Premier League club, there have been reports suggesting Messi could follow his long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo to Saudi Arabia. PSG suspended Messi in May after he went on an unauthorized trip to the Middle East nation, where he's served as a tourism ambassador since May 2022.

Riyadh-based club Al Hilal are apparently willing to tempt Messi with a salary that could make him the world's highest-paid athlete. Ronaldo, who plays for Saudi Pro League rivals Al Nassr, currently earns more than Messi.

Inter Miami are possible outsiders to sign Messi. The MLS club - and, indeed, the league's commissioner - has been bullish about bringing Messi to North America. A report last October claimed Inter Miami executives expected him to arrive in time for the 2023 season. That deadline has passed, but L'Equipe's Jose Barroso reported Wednesday that Inter Miami and Barcelona could work together on a deal, with the superstar joining the former on a permanent basis before being immediately sent on loan to Barca for 18 months.

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