Why are PSG fans booing Messi, and what has gone wrong? – ESPN

Julien Laurens explains the obstacles stopping Lionel Messi from signing a contract extension with PSG. (1:06)
At least this time Lionel Messi would not have been surprised; being booed by his own Paris Saint-Germain fans is not something new to him.
The last two home matches might have been difficult, but last season, after losing to Real Madrid in the Champions League, the whole Parc des Princes whistled him. In Ligue 1 defeats against Lyon on Sunday and Rennes before the international break, it was only a small part of the stadium that jeered.
Historically, the Paris crowd is tough (and not just in football.) It has always been — and will always be — demanding and difficult to please. It happened with Neymar and other PSG greats of the past, including the likes of Rai, George Weah and Ronaldinho. Nevertheless, booing arguably the greatest player of all time is something else. For some, it is disrespectful; for others, a supporter’s right.
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The cause of the discontent between some fans and 35-year-old genius comes from his performances since the turn of the year. After a very good first half of the season, Messi’s form has dropped dramatically since his World Cup-winning campaign with Argentina. From a goal every 138 minutes and an assist every 118 minutes in all competitions pre-Qatar, Messi is now down to a goal every 210 minutes and an assist every 420 minutes in all competitions. It is not the same Messi and, even if he still creates some chances, his impact on matches has been significantly less.
Against Lyon, he gave the ball away 26 times in 90 minutes. And for a player of Messi’s talent, 26 times is a disgrace. His performances in 2023 have been poor, fuelling the rhetoric that Messi just wanted to be at his best for the World Cup and doesn’t care about anything else, though he is reportedly unhappy with his form and being taunted by his own fans.
All of this is happening at a key moment in the season, both on and off the field. Off it, ESPN reported on Tuesday that the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner is unlikely to stay in the French capital next season. His contract expires in June, and both PSG and Messi are not too sure about continuing together despite the agreement in principle they agreed before the World Cup. And the fact that Messi is flirting with former team Barcelona, MLS side Inter Miami and a number of Saudi clubs — with a source telling ESPN’s Mark Ogden that he is actively considering a move to Al Hilal, the city rivals of Cristiano Ronaldo‘s Al Nassr — has not gone down well with the Paris fans.
On the field, PSG are a shambles. They have lost three of their last four games, six of their last 10 and eight of their last 18 — all in 2023. These numbers are unprecedented since the Qataris took over as owners in the summer 2011. The past three months have been a nightmare for manager Christophe Galtier, whose position is under extreme pressure, and another bad result at Nice this weekend, or at home against Lens in 10 days’ time, will almost certainly lead to his dismissal.
The past few weeks have aged Galtier massively. He is tired, lost, and doesn’t seem to have a solution to steady the ship. Despite having the best squad in Ligue 1 and a six-point cushion at the top of the table ahead of Lens and Marseille, it is very possible that PSG will not end up winning the league. They are definitely not the best team in France right now — a minimum expectation for most PSG fans — and the responsibility for that mostly lays at the feet of Galtier.
This is a team with no cohesion, no connection between players, no patterns of play, no movement and no desire. They will still win games because they have the individual talent to make a difference, but that’s it. If you look at Lens, Marseille or Reims, just to name three, the contrast with PSG is dramatic.
Galtier is not solely responsible for the failures; the players, especially the leaders in the dressing room (and especially Messi), have to take some of the blame, too. They are all underperforming, and it looks like some of them have lost their desire to play.
Right now, the decisions over whether the star trio of Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe all stay next season or whether Galtier gets another year to prove himself, are moot. The focus has to be on turning things around. Something has to change on the pitch and the next few weeks will be the most important in the club’s recent history. Otherwise the boos will continue to ring around the Parc des Princes.

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