Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi to be sanctioned by PSG AFP / FRANCK FIFE

The relationship between Lionel Messi and Paris Saint-Germain FC has taken a nosedive after the club decided to suspend the Argentina captain for two weeks. The sanction comes after the player travelled to Saudi Arabia without the club's permission this week.

Messi was in action for the full 90 minutes of PSG's Ligue 1 match against Lorient on Sunday, which they lost 1-3. He then took off to the Middle East and missed training on Monday. The squad was given the day off on Tuesday, but they are expected to be back in training on Wednesday.

Due to his suspension, the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner won't be allowed to train or play for the club for two weeks. He will be unpaid for the duration of the suspension, and has also been fined by the club for an undisclosed amount.

According to the BBC, the number 10 did not leave the club totally in the dark about his plans. In fact, he had asked for permission to travel, but the club refused to allow him to take time off for personal commitments during the crucial home stretch of the domestic season. PSG are currently five points clear of Marseille in the Ligue 1 table.

What is Messi doing in Saudi Arabia?

It is understood that Messi travelled to Saudi Arabia with his family not simply for leisure, but primarily to fulfil his duties as a tourism ambassador. This was quickly confirmed by a post he made on his official Instagram account in partnership with Visit Saudi, the country's tourism arm.

The photo shows rows of date palms growing on what looks like a grassy grove. He captioned the post: "Who thought Saudi has so much green? I love to explore its unexpected wonders whenever I can."

Indeed, he went to explore the "unexpected wonders" because he can, even though his club did not agree to the trip.

What the suspension means for Messi's future

Due to the two-week suspension, the World Cup winner will miss matches against Troyes and Ajaccio in Ligue 1. Upon his return, there will be three matches remaining before the season comes to an end. PSG currently have a five point lead at the top of the table, but things could still go wrong with five games left to play. They are chasing a ninth league title in 11 seasons, but they have once again failed to secure European glory.

There was a lot of hype surrounding Messi's arrival at the Parc des Princes in 2021, but the mood has been damp when it comes to his potential renewal. His current deal with PSG expires in June, and there has been very little clamour for his extension coming from fans of the club.

His trip to Saudi Arabia also fuels rumours regarding an alleged big money offer from Saudi Pro League side Al Hilal. The club is reportedly keen to being the Argentine to the country to revive his rivalry with Cristiano Ronaldo, who plays for rival club Al Nassr.

Meanwhile, FC Barcelona is still in the picture, with club executives openly expressing their desire to lure their former captain back to the Camp Nou. The club can't afford Messi's salary by any means, but the club is believed to be cooking up schemes to sign the player at minimum wage but with hundreds of millions worth of add-ons in the form of marketing and merchandise incentives as well as gate revenue shares.

While his next destination remains up in the air, it is becoming more clear that it is highly unlikely that PSG will want to go out of their way to secure a renewal. It is also out of character for the player to deliberately become delinquent against his club.

Messi's time at PSG has so far been largely underwhelming, and most of his notable performances over the last two years have been for the national team side. Less than two months remain before speculations will finally be put to rest.