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Lionel Messi Leaves Paris Saint Germain On Low Note: Report


Just months after winning the 2022 World Cup, Lionel Messi’s unimpressive two-year stay at Paris Saint-Germain is about to come to an end when he joins longtime rival Cristiano Ronaldo in Saudi Arabia. For his throngs of fans, Argentina’s victory in Qatar in December put an end to any remaining questions regarding Messi’s claim to the title of best footballer in history. But it seems as though his illustrious career in Europe came to a disappointing end. PSG last week punished Messi for traveling to Saudi Arabia without permission.

He has 71 appearances and 31 goals for the French champions, who expected to win the Ligue 1 title later this month. However, he was unable to help PSG win the Champions League after they lost both of their last-16 matches.

Barcelona had hoped to re-sign the 35-year-old to Camp Nou, where he won four Champions League trophies and 10 La Liga championships before a sorrowful exit in 2021.

However, Saudi Arabia, which is sometimes accused of “sports washing,” or hosting the biggest names in sports to draw attention away from its poor record on human rights, will be able to boast that their underappreciated local league is home to probably the two best players of the modern age.

While Messi’s move to Saudi Arabia is a “done deal,” a source familiar with the negotiations who told AFP that Ronaldo’s move to Al Nassr was a “done deal” refrained from revealing which club the Argentine will join.

The World Cup mission was successful

Exhibit A in the debate over whether Messi should place above Pele and Diego Maradona in the pantheon of football greats has long been the absence of a World Cup championship title.
However, the case was conclusively settled when Argentina defeated France in the jaw-dropping World Cup final in Doha last year.

Messi has won 37 club trophies, seven Ballon d’Or, and six European Golden Boots over his illustrious three-decade career.

Ranking greatness

What is undeniable though is that by the sheer volume and range of silverware, Messi has won more than the other serious rivals to his “G.O.A.T” status: Pele and Maradona.

While Pele’s three World Cup triumphs remain unrivaled, the Brazilian icon’s club career pales in comparison to Messi’s.

In his peak years with Barcelona, the Argentinian regularly scaled the pinnacle of European club football in the Champions League — arguably a technically superior arena than international football.

Maradona meanwhile won only one World Cup, and never lifted a European Cup during a club career in Europe remembered mostly for spells with Barcelona and Napoli.

Of course, there is a counterargument that Pele and Maradona played at a time when players had far less protection than modern players like Messi and Ronaldo.

Pele forced to withdraw from the 1966 World Cup after sustaining one too many vicious tackles, while Maradona endured roughhousing throughout his whole career.

Jorge Burruchaga, a former international teammate of Diego Maradona, is hesitant to make such comparisons.

Burruchaga, who scored the game-winning goal in the 1986 World Cup final victory against West Germany on a Maradona assist, has simply stated that Messi is the greatest player of his generation.

“Win or lose, Messi is not more or less than Maradona,” Burruchaga said to AFP during the World Cup. However things turn out, Messi will go down in history.

Five players over the previous 70 years — (Alfredo) Di Stefano, Johan Cruyff, Pele, Maradona, and Messi — regarded as the finest in the world.

The final name on that list may permanently go from the elite of Europe, but Messi has not yet called time on a 102-goal, 174-match international career.

The Copa America in the United States the next year can yet serve as a suitable farewell.

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