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Soccer

PSG’s summer clear-out plan will leave Messi a castaway

The end of the Argentinean era at PSG appears to be nigh with Di María, Paredes and Icardi all set to depart, leaving Messi isolated in the dressing room.

Andres Onrubia
Leo Messi and Kylian Mbappé during the match between Paris Saint Germain and Marseille at Parc des Princes.
Anthony DibonGetty

Paris Saint-Germain are preparing an institutional and sporting overhaul this summer after a largely disappointing season that failed to deliver a long sought-after Champions League triumph, Mauricio Pochettino’s side falling to Real Madrid in the last 16. One of the moves the club is considering directly affects Leo Messi. The Argentina captain moved to the Parc des Princes last summer in what was intended to be a statement of intent on the pitch and in terms of PSG’s pulling power – not least to try and convince Kylian Mbappé the club can meet his ambitions. However, according to L’Equipe, the PSG board are looking at a clear-out that involves all of Messi’s compatriots, with Ángel di María, Mauro Icardi and Leandro Paredes to all be made available this summer.

Di María, Icardi and Paredes all set for PSG exit

In the case of Di María, who has started just five games in 2022, PSG have no intention of renewing his contract despite a one-year option in the winger’s deal. Against Marseille at the weekend, Di María did not even get off the bench with his influence having waned after the return of Neymar to the extent that Icardi was called on by Pochettino ahead of the club’s all-time leading assist provider. Di María has also been struggling with injuries, which has not helped his cause at the negotiating table. It now seems inevitable that he will leave on a free, as did the club’s top scorer at the time, Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

As for Icardi, the situation is more complicated still. The former Inter striker has not been delivering on the pitch this season and his well-scrutinized off-field issues with Wanda Nara have incensed PSG sporting director Leonardo and the fans, who greeted his introduction for Mbappé last Sunday with a chorus of jeers. When he was signed he cost the club €50m, but his value has dropped to the extent that PSG will be fortunate to recoup even half of that outlay.

L’Equipe also states that Paredes will be allowed to leave at the end of the season. The midfielder was signed from Zenit for €47 million in 2019 but has yet to become a regular starter and there are rumours of some players at the club being unhappy with his attitude. According to L’Equipe, among the non-Argentinean contingent he is viewed as Messi’s “guard dog,” the two being close friends. Tottenham expressed an interest in the player in January and Paredes is aware that with the World Cup around the corner he will need to be playing regular football to make the Argentina squad.

PSG want Messi to see out contract

If PSG are successful in their clean out, Messi will be the only Argentinean remaining at the club next season. Despite an under-par season by his own standards, PSG want Messi to remain and see out the final year of his contract with an eye on Champions League success in 2023. However, and despite the club’s owners basing earlier iterations of their project on Argentina internationals including Javier Pastore, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Di María and Giovanni Lo Celso, it seems the PSG board are now intending to head in another direction, one that will do little to placate Messi, who was attracted by the proposition of a move in the first place precisely because of the club’s significant Argentinean contingent.