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Lionel Messi, PSG Reportedly Hope to Intensify Contract Talks in January

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 12, 2023

PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 11: Lionel Messi of Paris Saint - Germain in action during the French Ligue 1 (L1) soccer match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Angers SCO at Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, France on January 11, 2023. (Photo by Mustafa Yalcin/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Mustafa Yalcin/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Paris Saint-Germain and star forward Lionel Messi are optimistic about making progress on a contract extension by the end of the month, according to ESPN FC's Julien Laurens.

Messi's current deal is due to expire at the end of the 2022-23 season, and he has yet to officially extend his stay in the French capital. Laurens reported on Dec. 22 he had "agreed in principle to stay at PSG next season."

It looked like the 35-year-old was on his way to MLS this summer, with a move to Inter Miami heavily reported this winter. Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo (via Sam Brookes of the Daily Mail) reported Saudi club Al-Hilal might be entering the mix as well.

On the heels of leading Argentina to a World Cup win, Messi may not be all that keen to leave one of Europe's best leagues, though.

The seven-time Ballon d'Or winner cut a forlorn figure at PSG last year, never seeming to get over a departure from Barcelona that was largely forced upon him because of Barça's dire finances.

It has been a far different case this year. Through 14 Ligue 1 appearances, Messi has eight goals and 10 assists. His 0.59 goals per 90 minutes are more than double his rate from 2021-22 (0.25), per FBRef. He has another four goals and four assists in five Champions League appearances.

Nobody would blame Messi for wanting to wind his career down and getting paid handsomely at the same time.

The 2022 World Cup was almost certainly his last, and representing Argentina at the 2024 Copa América is probably out of the question at his age, too. From a national team perspective, there's no real downside anymore to competing in a lesser league.

But Messi is playing better right now than even he might have imagined and in doing so perhaps delayed his inevitable retirement by another season or two.

A one-year pact with Paris Saint-Germain is the most sensible path because whatever offers from MLS or Saudi sides will likely still be there next winter.