Lionel Messi has reportedly skipped PSG training to take a trip to Saudi Arabia as part of his role as a tourism ambassador without getting an approval from his coach, Christophe Galtier.
The Argentine played the full 90 minutes of the French giants’ 3-1 defeat to Lorient on Sunday which leaves them just five points clear of Marseille at the top of the table.
Messi’s future at the club remains uncertain with the 35-year-old yet to extend his contract which runs out at the end of this season.
He signed a lucrative £25m-a-year deal with Saudi Arabia to promote the kingdom in May last year as a tourism ambassador, with Messi taking his first trip in the role when he visited Jeddah soon after.
According to L’Equipe, after Sunday’s defeat to Lorient, the club announced players would be in for training on Monday, and have a day off on Tuesday May 2.
Galtier had originally explained they would have two days off if they beat the mid-table Ligue 1 outfit. As a result, every squad member was expected to be at their Camp des Loges training base on Monday.
However, Messi was not present and was in fact in Riyadh as part of his contract with the Saudi tourist office.
The report goes on to state the trip was planned before Sunday’s defeat and could not be rescheduled, with it previously being postponed on two occasions. This included after their last-16 Champions League exit to Bayern Munich.
Sources at the club insisted Messi did ask permission to take part in the trip, but this was not given by either Galtier or sporting director Luis Campos after their training schedule was confirmed to be only one day off.
The forward then went above their heads and then got permission from the club’s Qatari board.
Saudi minister of tourism Ahmed Al Khateeb confirmed Messi was in the kingdom for his trip as he tweeted on Monday: ‘I am happy to welcome #Messi and his family to Saudi to enjoy the magical tourist destinations and authentic experiences. We welcome visitors from all around the world to experience a unique trip to Saudi Arabia and its hospitality.’
Messi also posted a photo on his Instagram from his stay with the caption: ‘Who thought Saudi has so much green? I love to explore its unexpected wonders whenever I can. #visitsaudi.’
Messi’s absence was a major talking point among the players on Monday, with several surprised he went ahead with the trip.