Paris Saint-Germain coach Christophe Galtier said on Thursday that Argentine star Lionel Messi will play his last match with the French champions on Saturday against Clermont and asked the fans to improve his reception at the Parc des Princes.
Messi, who has scored 21 goals and provided 20 assists for PSG in all competitions this season, moved to the French capital from Barcelona in 2021 on a two-year contract.
Leo Messi's goal from all angles! 🎦🤩 #TimeToWatch of submitting @purnell_watches
✨ #HistoryIsMadeInParis I #RCSAPSG
— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_arab) May 28, 2023
The 35-year-old, who led Argentina to World Cup victory in Qatar and is close to extending his record by winning the Ballon d'Or for the seventh time, won the French league with Saint-Germain in the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 seasons, along with the 2022 French Super Cup.
Galtier told reporters: "I had the privilege of coaching the best player in the history of football, it will be his last match at the Parc des Princes, and I hope he gets the best reception."
Last month, French media speculated that Messi had been suspended from the club for two weeks after travelling to Saudi Arabia without a permit when he was supposed to play a training session with the team following a 1-3 home loss to Lorient in the league.
"This year, he (Messi) has been an important part of the team, he's always available and I don't think comments or criticism against him can be justified," Galtier added.
"He has always been in the service of the team, I had the great privilege of accompanying him during the season."
Messi's future at PSG has been in great doubt lately, and a source close to the Argentina captain told Reuters he had received an official offer from Saudi Arabia's Al Hilal to join their ranks next season.
There has also been speculation about his return to Barcelona, his boyhood club, and Inter Miami has emerged among the potential destinations.
Laporta's reaction to Messi's 😁 question pic.twitter.com/L3jUYt0WDl
— FCB World (@forcabarca_ar) May 31, 2023
Messi's final match is unlikely to take place in a cheerful setting, after Galtier said coronation celebrations were disrupted due to concerns about goalkeeper Sergio Rico's health.
Rico was involved in an accident while riding a horse at an annual event in southern Spain, on the same day PSG clinched the league title with a game to go after a 1-1 draw with Strasbourg.
Rico was taken to intensive care, and his family said in a statement late Sunday that he suffered "a serious accident after a horse and his carriage collided with him."
Spanish newspaper Marca reported that Rico was driving a horse himself.
Galtier told reporters ahead of the final league round that "there will be no celebrations, it was a very difficult week, we were all affected because we went from winning the league on Saturday to feeling more pain on Sunday morning."
"We are all affected, we try in every way to avoid thinking about other things during training, we are united in conveying positive messages to Sergio, his mother, his wife and all his fans."