French and international media have reported that football sensation Lionel Messi faces disciplinary action, possibly suspension, from Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) for traveling to Saudi Arabia without the club's permission.
The Associated Press reported on Wednesday that Messi could miss PSG's next two games due to a possible two-week suspension. The news comes at a delicate time, as the French club aims to extend the Argentinian star's contract beyond this season.
Tuesday, French news outlets L'Équipe and RMC Sport reported the suspension without citing any sources.
A source familiar with the situation told the Associated Press that the French club denied Messi's request to travel to Saudi Arabia, where he has a commercial contract to promote tourism.
The World Cup champion will not be permitted to train or play with the team during his suspension, and he will not be compensated, according to an AP source.
In December, Messi led Argentina to the World Cup championship. In addition to his 15 league goals, he leads the French league in assists with 15.
Messi has not publicly commented on the alleged suspension of his social media accounts.
The reported suspension comes at a precarious moment for the French club, which had hoped to extend the Argentinian star's contract beyond this season.
Reports of Messi's trip to Saudi Arabia followed PSG's unexpected 3-1 defeat to Lorient on Sunday, giving the defending champions a five-point advantage over Marseille with five games remaining in the season. Messi completed the entire game.
A club source told Agence France-Presse that the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner would "probably" be sidelined for two weeks, adding that "nobody is more important than the club."
According to AFP, Messi, who turns 36 in June, participated in PSG's 3-1 home loss to Lorient in Ligue 1 on Sunday. Then, he traveled to Saudi Arabia to fulfill his contractual obligations to the country's tourist office.
Consequently, Messi missed a training session scheduled for Monday following the weekend loss, and the PSG squad was given Tuesday off.
According to a source with knowledge of the situation, the Argentine will not participate in training on Wednesday either.
According to L'Equipe, PSG head coach Christophe Galtier promised to give his players Monday and Tuesday off if they defeated Lorient. Instead, the team had training on Monday and a day off on Tuesday.
Messi moved to PSG from Barcelona two years ago with aspirations of leading the club to the Champions League. Instead, PSG was eliminated in consecutive seasons in the round of 16.
It has been speculated where he will play next, particularly following reports that contract negotiations with PSG have broken down.
Some PSG supporters have jeered Messi during the team's inconsistent season.