Lionel Messi's two-week suspension by Paris Saint-Germain marks the end of his time at the club. The suspension was imposed after he went to Saudi Arabia without approval and failed to attend training on Monday, a day when the team was due to be training.
No player bigger than the club
Due to his suspension, he won't be able to go on the trip to Troyes this weekend, and there's a chance he might miss the visit of Ajaccio on May 13 as well. In addition, he will be fined as a consequence of the suspension. PSG's reaction was based on their belief that Messi's actions had disrespected the institution, and the suspension was intended to emphasize club discipline and tolerance.
PSG's form this year has been poor, and the suspension was intended to show that no player is bigger than the club. Messi's suspension sets a precedent and means that the Messi project is over.
PSG has had a woeful run of form since the beginning of the year, suffering nine defeats in all competitions. Since their Champions League exit in March, their title pursuit has been a chore, and they have been devoid of motivation and fight.
Setting the right example
Allowing a key player to go unpunished for missing training after a defeat would condone this disinterested culture, disrupt the already tense dressing room, and damage the authority of the head coach. The club has allowed indulgence to fester for too long, and the dressing room has held too much sway in recent seasons, proving untameable for some of the best managers.
This season, the club is still constructed around Kylian Mbappe, who PSG want to be their centerpiece, with young French talent at the heart of the project. But Mbappe's recent public outburst on social media about a marketing video that he disliked highlighted his influence at the club.This raises the question of whether Mbappe would have received similar treatment as Messi. However, the answer has to be yes, if the club is to make any meaningful progress.
End of Project Messi
The decision to suspend Messi does change the landscape, setting a precedent and meaning the Messi project is over. The ambiguity surrounding Messi's future and the perception that he hasn't displayed the same level of dedication and investment as he did during his time in Barcelona has caused PSG fans to harbour dissatisfaction. It is hard to see the relationship between Messi and PSG being rebuilt. His contract expires in the summer, and this suspension could make it difficult for him to return to the negotiation table.
PSG losing Messi may not be the worst thing for the club. Galtier's system has been designed to get the best out of Messi, sometimes at the expense of others, such as the midfield.
The dressing room has held too much sway in recent seasons, making it difficult for some of the best managers to establish their authority. PSG wants to focus on young French talent, with Mbappe at the heart of the project. Although they will be losing a sensational player, PSG has compromised to accommodate him, and a future without Messi could be a good thing for the club.