- 24 Feb 2024
Lionel Messi at PSG: Who leaves to accommodate the Argentine?
Lionel Messi joining Paris Saint-Germain is a rumour that is picking up more momentum with each passing day.
The move would end Messi’s almost 20-year association with the Catalan giants, and his arrival in Ligue 1 would catapult the Parisian outfit into the upper echelons in relation to global branding.
However, even though he will arrive on a free transfer, Messi won’t come cheap. PSG may have to sacrifice several players in order to fund the deal, as well as certain figures who will know their minutes are set to be drastically reduced.
So, who is most likely to move on to accommodate Messi?
1. Mauro Icardi
Icardi would arguably be the first casualty in the aftermath of the Messi move. The Argentine striker impressed during his first season in Paris, but has hardly kicked a ball since due to injury and testing positive for Covid-19.
Icardi is unique in the PSG squad, in so far as that they don’t have anyone else with his characteristics. Icardi is a supreme penalty-box predator, a throw-back to a different age of the game in many respects. However that might not be enough to warrant keeping Icardi at the French capital.
PSG paid Inter in excess of €60m (£55m) for Icardi last summer, and could feasibly expect to regain most of that outlay on a sale next summer. There would be no shortage of suitors for Icardi in Serie A, with Juventus consistently linked to the 27-year-old.
2. Julian Draxler
Draxler has been linked with a move away from PSG seemingly since the day he signed. The German winger hasn’t been a success, often overshadowed by the team’s bigger names; he has yet to make 100 appearances in the league, despite the fact that he’s now in his fifth season.
The winger is in danger of wasting his exceptional talent, and will almost certainly be pushed out the door to make way for Messi.
Draxler has many admirers in the Bundesliga, where he played his best football, and a return there seems the most likely option for the 27-year-old.
Draxler’s contract also expires in June 2021, making it almost a certainty that he will leave the club.
3. Leandro Paredes
Paredes signed for the club in January 2019 from Zenit St. Petersburg and has suffered with multiple injuries since arriving.
Paredes is an excellent player when fit, but the former Roma midfielder has found starting time curtailed due to changes in formation by Thomas Tuchel and the presence of Marco Verratti.
The Argentine could be sold in order to free up funds for Messi, as Paredes is still relatively young and has significant re-sale value.
However his potential departure would leave the side short on numbers in midfield.
4. Angel Di Maria
The PSG stalwart has been at the club since 2015, and will be 33 years of age by the time of Messi’s potential arrival.
Logic says Di Maria would be one of the main casualties of Messi’s arrival, given that the two play in the same part of the field.
However both have played together for years at international level for Argentina, and Messi understands better the most what Di Maria’s relentless energy and willingness to sacrifice for the team brings.
The club may want to move Di Maria on, but Messi may veto such an attempt, and will likely demand that the winger stays put.
Di Maria has made over 200 appearances for PSG in his spell at the club, registering a remarkable 100 assists in all competitions.
5. Moise Kean
Messi’s arrival could stop any permanent move for on-loan striker Moise Kean. Kean arrived from Everton at the tail end of the last transfer window, and has exceeded expectations thus far in Paris.
PSG have the option to buy the young Italian for a fee reportedly in the region of €20m, but should Messi land in the French capital, Kean’s deal could be scuppered.
However should they sell Icardi first, then there is the chance that PSG keeps Kean in addition to the Messi deal, given that the Italian has a long future ahead of him.
Kean has scored five times in eight games so far this season.
6. Pablo Sarabia
The Spanish midfielder signed for Paris Saint-Germain in the summer of 2019, but like Paredes, has found playing time difficult at the Parc des Princes.
With Verratti the kingpin of midfield for PSG, all other midfielders play in his shadow, and Sanabria is no exception.
He’s made 55 appearances in all competitions for the French side, but hasn’t produced many outstanding performances.
A return to Spain could be in order for Sarabia, with Sevilla, Real Betis, Villarreal and Real Sociedad all capable of producing bids for the 28-year-old’s services.