Paris Saint-Germain’s sporting director Leonardo angrily dismissed as “very far from reality” a story in L’Equipe on Saturday claiming the Qatar-owned club were paying Lionel Messi a “giant” salary of €110 million ($129 million) over the next three seasons.
Leonardo’s forceful denial of the veracity of the French sports daily’s front page revelation came on the eve of Messi’s first home match at the Parc des Princes since his stunning arrival from Barcelona.
As another PSG galactico, KylianMbappe, faced a fitness battle for Sunday’s Ligue 1 clash with Lyon, Leonardo was not pulling any punches as he sought to knock back details of a contract all parties would prefer to keep out of the public domain.
“We didn’t like it, it’s very far from the reality in terms of the length and the figures,” said Leonardo.
“There are confidentiality clauses, but I can tell you it’s not the truth.”
L’Equipe devoted its front page Saturday to the Argentine superstar’s “giant salary” – a minimum of €110 million spread over three years.
“The length of the contract is two years and not three,” stated Leonardo.
He accused L’Equipe of “a lack of respect” given the timing of the story the day before Messi stars in front of PSG’s fans at home.
“I don’t understand it, but that’s your problem,” he told journalists.
“But the facts, we can’t let that go.”
Since being welcomed like royalty in August six-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi has played just two games for his new club, both away fixtures.
The second of those came when coach Mauricio Pochettino lined up his three stars Messi, Mbappe and Neymar for the first time in the disappointing 1-1 draw at Club Brugge.
While Messi, 34, is due to turn out in the Ligue 1 meeting with Lyon, Mbappe is far from certain with the French World Cup winner nursing a foot injury from the Champions League opener.
“He trained with the squad taking a couple of precautions [on Saturday morning],” Pochettino said.
“We’re satisfied with [the injury’s] progress. We’ll see tomorrow if he’s in the list or not.”
Mbappe missed France’s last two World Cup qualifiers with a right calf problem.
Whether the 22-year-old makes it or not Pochettino is definitely facing Lyon without defender Sergio Ramos (calf) and Juan Bernat, and midfielder Marco Verratti (knee).
PSG, who saw their domestic dominance checked last season when Lille emerged as Ligue 1 champions, have won their first five outings to top the table.
Meanwhile despite unleashing three of the game’s finest talents against Brugge, the scoreline was far from the result anyone at PSG would have been happy with as they start out on a journey they desperately hope will bring them their first ever continental crown.
“We must improve, we know that,” said Pochettino.
“We have a magnificent squad, but we need balance, to be creative going forward but solid at the back. We need time for that.”