Lionel Messi surpassed Cristiano Ronaldo for the most goals scored inside Europe’s top five leagues, as his record 496th strike helped PSG win the French title on Saturday.
Messi, 35, opened the scoring just before the hour mark with a goal assisted by team-mate Kylian Mbappe, leaving eternal rival Ronaldo in second place on 495. PSG were pegged late on when former striker Kevin Gameiro notched an equaliser. But it didn’t matter, as all the reigning champions had to do in order to defend their Ligue 1 title was avoid defeat at the Stade de la Meinau.
It’s Messi’s second league title in France, having also won it during his first season with the Parisians, but will likely be his last. The Argentine icon is set to depart the Parc des Princes this summer when his two-year contract expires, with one final home game to come next Saturday when Clermont Foot come to the capital.
Messi has been tipped for a fairytale return to Barcelona but is reportedly leaning towards a lucrative switch to Saudi Arabia, where Ronaldo – two years his senior – is already playing. The Portuguese superstar has turned out for Al-Nassr since January and rivals Al-Hilal are hoping to earn Messi’s signature once his deal with PSG expires next month.
Barca remain hopeful that they secure a homecoming transfer, though, with president Joan Laporta confirming transfer talks with the 35-year-old after the Blaugrana won the La Liga title earlier this month. “I’ve spoken with Leo. It was very nice,” Laporta revealed. “We have recovered the relationship.
“Messi wants Barca, he feels this club is his home. Saudi Arabia? Barca is Barca. In Arabia, they are doing a good job, investing – but I insist, Barca is his home. Barca can compete with anyone.
The Barcelona president, who sanctioned Messi’s emotional departure in 2021 due to financial issues, also told RAC1: “I spoke with Messi recently, we have a relationship with him. Messi is the best player in the world and any coach would want him in his team.”
Messi’s imminent exit from PSG has made him unpopular with fans, who’ve booed him at recent home matches, a fact which Laporta also addressed. “He had some unpleasant incidents with the fans in Paris, I won’t disturb him right now,” he continued. “We exchanged some messages recently. Barca is Messi’s home and Barca can compete with Saudi Arabia and everyone.”
Barca head coach Xavi also wants to see ex-team-mate Messi return, saying in March: “We are friends, we speak often, but it’s not the moment to talk about this, for the good of Leo, the club or the squad.
“It’s an issue we’re dealing [with], but from that to [him returning] is a big leap. I hope we see him come home. I’m the first person who would love to see the best player ever return. And it is normal that fans are excited about a ‘Last Dance’ like [with] Michael Jordan.”