What’s next for PSG? Lionel Messi moving on might be for the best as club must build around Kylian Mbappe

Paris Saint-Germain were eliminated from the UEFA Champions League in the round of 16 on Wednesday. 2-0 defeat by Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena, losing with a total score of 3:0. In the end, it wasn’t even much of a disappointment as Christophe Galtier’s shorthanded team reverted to old bad habits and played below par, reflecting their post-World Cup form.

Not quite on par with some of PSG’s previous worst nights in Europe, such as the 2020 Champions League final defeat to Bayern, a 3-1 home loss to Manchester United and Remontada, it was still grim. It could also be costly for Ligue 1 as the UEFA odds situation will really get worse and France could fall out of the top five.

Above all, PSG and Lionel Messi now have to make a major decision regarding their future as the Argentine legend expires this summer and Les Parisiens need to take a pay cut. Messi, 35, was a passenger for most of the Bayern game and hardly checked in for 90 minutes, while Kylian Mbappe was at least trying to make it in a limited configuration.

Neymar is unlikely to move given his recent surgery and Mbappe’s contract keeps PSG safe from European vultures for at least one more summer. Still, Messi is fine, and even an improved second season at the Parc des Princes doesn’t make the move any less controversial.

Luis Campos now has to decide how to re-engineer the attack around Mbappe’s focus, but possibly with Neymar as well. So maybe it’s time to let Messi move on and take care of one of his fiancés on their behalf and leave Europe behind for good.

Sergio Ramos rolled back years with a decent performance in Germany and can still count on him to leave this summer as his contract also comes to an end. Presnel Kimpembe has not been on the pitch to represent himself but will not move while Marquinhos and Marco Verratti are likely to stay due to their contract situations.

Messi and Ramos may not be the only ones to leave this summer. With Zinedine Zidane back on the market and the pedigree that Ligue 1 leaders are aiming for in the Champions League, the Frenchman’s time may well be here.

“Too early,” Galtier said after the game. “My future depends on sports management and the president. Obviously there is disappointment. The club had little hope for this tournament. it’s a disappointment quickly.”

Despite the rather dismal performance, especially in the second half, there were some positives from Warren Zaire Emery’s cameo and El Chadail Bitshiabu to lean on. However, PSG’s next iteration should be built solely around Mbappe with new elements such as the arrival of Milan Skrinjar and the electric Nuno Mendez.

The likes of Verratti and even the unfortunate Marquinhos cannot be left out because they are involved in so many recurring disappointments. Another big question concerns Qatar’s appetite for further development of the project now that the World Cup is over and PSG are still so far from success in the Champions League.

The French champions have never looked this far from where they set out to be and now drastic changes seem inevitable if they have any chance of achieving it in the future. They bought the best and it still wasn’t good enough, so how long until the lesson is learned that it’s not just money wasting?

If the past is anything to go by, not anytime soon. The number of times their former players contributed to their downfall suggests that at least part of the answer may lie within.


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