Football: PSG in talks with Messi over renewing contract

Paris Saint-Germain's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi tussling for the ball with Toulouse's French defender Anthony Rouault during the French Ligue 1 match on Saturday, which PSG won 2-1. PHOTO: AFP

PARIS – Paris Saint-Germain’s football adviser Luis Campos says he will be “delighted” if Argentinian superstar Lionel Messi agrees to extend his contract with the French champions.

The 35-year-old seven-time Ballon d’Or winner achieved his lifetime ambition of winning the World Cup in December but has maintained a decent run of form on his return to France.

He scored a key goal in the 3-1 win over Montpellier and then notched his 10th Ligue 1 goal of the season on Saturday as PSG, missing Kylian Mbappe and Neymar through injury, came from behind to beat Toulouse 2-1.

Messi joined PSG in 2021 on a two-year contract, with the option of renewing it for another, after an emotional farewell to Barcelona where he had spent his whole professional career.

“We are in discussions. I cannot hide that, I would love to have him involved in this project, that he can continue with us,” Campos told French broadcaster TF1.

“I would be delighted if he does so, but we are talking at the moment trying to achieve that goal, that Leo Messi remains with us.”

Campos, who made his name as Monaco’s sporting director from 2013 to 2016 overseeing the transfers of stars like James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao, lauded Messi’s recent contributions to the team, especially in the win over Montpellier.

“At half-time I said to him ‘Leo it is imperative you drag the others with you’. He replied: ‘keep calm’ and he produced an exceptional second half.”

On the 31-year-old Neymar, who some believe has not lived up to his true potential since his world record transfer from Barcelona to PSG in 2017, Campos said: “The truth is that since my arrival at the club I’ve had no criticism for Neymar.

“He always on time, always in a good mood. This Neymar is an incredible Neymar.”

Messi’s form is just the boost PSG require, with Mbappe’s injury due to see him miss their Champions League last-16, first-leg clash with Bayern Munich on Feb 14.

“Losing Kylian is tough, I saw he was very sad about the injury,” said Campos. “However, then I saw him working out in the morning to recuperate as fast as possible.

“That’s a winner’s personality, he’s someone very special and already the best striker in the world.”

Bayern boss Julian Nagelsmann, however, is sceptical Mbappe will be absent from the clash against his side at the Parc des Princes. He said: “I don’t think he will be missing (against Bayern), so I expect nothing else.

“I don’t know what he has, so I assume he will play. It is a bit vague on PSG’s homepage saying he would be out for up to three weeks.

“If there is no structural injury, I can’t see him missing the game. It is too early to say already now that he won’t play if there is no structural injury.” AFP, REUTERS

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