The novel coronavirus well and truly has all of Europe's football leagues firmly in its grip once again. After returning to relative normalcy in the latter half of 2021, the surge caused by the Omicron variant has caused chaos just before the Christmas break. Now, even seven-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi has not been spared.

Paris Saint-Germain has confirmed that Messi is among four members of the squad who have returned positive Covid-19 test results. Apart from the Argentine, defender Juan Bernat, goalkeeper Sergio Rico and midfielder Nathan Bitumazala have also been infected.

Messi is currently in Argentina, and won't be allowed to travel back to France until he returns a negative test result. As such, he will once again miss matches for PSG. The 34-year-old joined the club last summer, and has only appeared in 16 games in all competitions. His season has been hampered by a number of injuries, but that did not stop him from scoring 6 goals so far. Nevertheless, expectations were much higher when he made the move to Paris from his boyhood club, FC Barcelona.

All four players are in isolation, and are in touch with PSG's medical team. They will all miss the away match against Vannes on Monday in the round-of-32 of the French Cup.

Manager Mauricio Pochettino remains philosophical about the entire situation, and is not overly worried. "In football, contact is inevitable, we share the dressing room. The risk of contamination is there, but we take all the necessary measures to try to prevent a player from infecting others," he said, as quoted by Al Jazeera.

The next Ligue 1 match for PSG is on January 9 against Olympique Lyonnais, and it remains unclear if Messi and the others will be available by then. "Until he gets a negative test in Argentina, he will not be able to travel to France. So, it is all down to the test in terms of when he can travel … we will assess when he is ready to play," said Pochettino

France has been dealing with a massive spike in coronavirus infections in the past month, and so have many neighbouring countries. The English Premier League and Spanish La Liga have also been dealing with numerous Covid-19 cases. It remains to be seen if the season will once again be forced to take a break in light of the current surge.

Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi has tested positive for Covid-19 AFP / Sebastien SALOM-GOMIS