X

PSG's Nasser Al-Khelaifi Confident in Keeping Lionel Messi, Eyes Marcus Rashford

Erin WalshDecember 9, 2022

PARIS, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 13: Lionel Messi of Paris Saint Germain runs in the field during the Ligue 1 match between Paris Saint-Germain and AJ Auxerre at Parc des Princes on November 13, 2022 in Paris, France. (Photo by Antonio Borga/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)
Antonio Borga/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images

Lionel Messi is due for a new contract, and while there has been speculation about his potential departure from Ligue 1 side Paris Saint-Germain, team president Nasser Al-Khelaifi is confident he will remain with the club beyond 2023.

Khelaifi said, per ESPN:

"He's very happy, you can see that with the national team. If a player's not happy you will see their performance not good for the national team. He performed fantastic this season for us, he's scored a lot of goals and assists for the national team and for the club.

"So what we agreed together—that after the World Cup, [we] sit down together. But both sides—our side of the club and him—are very happy, so we will talk after the World Cup."

In addition to re-signing Messi, PSG has also been listed as a possible destination for Manchester United's Marcus Rashford, whose contract with the Premier League side expires after the 2022-23 season.

Al-Khelaifi addressed the possibility of adding Rashford on a free transfer, and he was candid in his response:

"He's another player that is really amazing. And for free? To have Rashford for free, every club would run after him, definitely. We're not hiding it, we spoke before and ... [there was] interest. But the moment was not a good moment for both sides. Maybe, summer, why not?

"Today if he's a free agent of course we can talk to him directly but we are not going to talk to him now. Let him focus on the World Cup. Then after in January, hopefully, if we're interested we will talk to him."

Messi joined PSG ahead of the 2021-22 season. In 26 Ligue 1 games last year, he notched six goals and 14 assists. Before heading to the World Cup this year, the Argentine enjoyed a much better start to the 2022-23 campaign, notching seven goals and 10 assists in 13 games.

Before signing with PSG, Messi had spent the first 17 years of his career with La Liga side Barcelona, where he established himself as one of the best players in the world. He would have remained with the club, but it was unable to re-sign him because of financial issues.

A November report indicated that Messi was going to leave PSG to sign with Major League Soccer's Inter Miami, but ESPN reported that he had not agreed to join the team owned by David Beckham.

As for Rashford, he has spent the first eight seasons of his career with Manchester United. Before joining England for the World Cup, he posted four goals and two assists in 14 Premier League games.

Rashford's best season came in 2019-20, when he scored 17 goals and had seven assists in 31 league matches.

PSG have also expressed interest in Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham.

Al-Khelaifi's team is sitting in first place in Ligue 1 with a 13-2-0 record. Adding either Rashford or Bellingham to a squad that already includes Messi, Kylian Mbappé and Neymar might make them even more dangerous but could lead to problems fitting so many stars on to the teamsheet.