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Lionel Messi booed in Paris!

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Paris Saint-Germain suffered a second home defeat in a row Sunday, falling 1-0 to Lyon as their World Cup winning superstar Lionel Messi was jeered by a section of supporters.

After losing 2-0 at home to Rennes two weeks ago, it was Lyon’s Bradley Barcola who inflicted the latest loss for PSG at the Parc des Princes.

The goal by Barcola – who had come on as replacement for injured Amin Sarr – made up for a missed penalty by Alexandre Lacazette in the first half.

It is the Parisians’ fifth Ligue 1 loss this season, all of them in 2023, and leaves Christophe Galtier’s side just six points ahead of both second-placed Lens and Marseille in third.

The night started in controversial circumstances.

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As the team line-ups were announced over the loudspeaker, whistling greeted Messi’s name in one part of the stadium.

Fans in another area, however, shouted in response “Messi”.

Messi, 35, is nearing the end of his two-year contract with the Paris club.

Talks have begun on a possible renewal but he has also been linked with a return to Barcelona.

In two seasons, the veteran has played 67 matches with PSG including Sunday’s game against ninth-placed Lyon and scored 29 goals.

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“The whistles, I find that hard,” said Galtier. “Leo is a player who gives a lot and who has given a lot since the start of the season.

“With a stroke of genius, Leo is able to deliver the right ball, to provide an assist, to score a goal. I never once thought about taking him off.”

PSG midfielder Danilo acknowledged the team had hit “a difficult phase” which they had to find a way out of, given their rivals were closing in.

“We have to wake up. The title is not guaranteed at all, there are still a lot of matches,” he said on Prime Video.

“There are lot of things to change, not just the mindset, but it’s not up to me to say what.”

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PSG have been severely hampered by injuries, with Neymar recovering from ankle surgery and their defence decimated.

On Sunday, PSG called up 17-year-old central defender El Chadaille Bitshiabu but he was overawed, giving away the ball too often.

Kylian Mbappe failed to pull off a repeat of his late scoring heroics as he had done in recent games against Strasbourg and Brest.

“We can’t expect everything from Leo and Kylian,” said Galtier.

“It’s our eighth defeat in 2023, it’s far too many.”

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Next up for PSG is a trip to Nice who are undefeated since January 2 before a crucial home clash with second-placed Lens.

Lens will be hopeful of delivering a further blow to their Qatar-owned rivals whose season is threatening to implode after a Champions League exit at the hands of Bayern Munich and a French Cup loss to bitter rivals Marseille.

Monaco kept up their push for a Champions League spot with a rollercoaster 4-3 home win over lowly Strasbourg.

Monaco trailed 2-1 at the interval despite taking an 18th-minute lead through Vanderson.

Lebo Mothiba and an own-goal by Chilean defender Guillermo Maripan gave Strasbourg the edge.

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Eliesse Ben Seghir and Edan Diop, both just 18 years old, and Youssouf Fofana then hit three goals inside an 11-minute spell in the second half to give Monaco a 4-2 lead.

Habib Diallo’s stoppage-time strike was only a consolation for Strasbourg.

Monaco have 57 points, just three behind third-placed Marseille who were held to a 1-1 draw by Montpellier on Friday.

“As I told the players, we saw two faces of Monaco tonight,” said Monaco coach Philippe Clement.

“We started well and for 25 minutes, we were good. But then the aggressiveness fell away and Strasbourg came back and scored twice. At half-time, I was very angry. I didn’t recognise my team.”

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AFP

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

CELEBRITY

Lionel Messi set to hang boots

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Messi Sets Record Straight Over Hong Kong Absence -

Inter Miami will be the last club Argentina captain Lionel Messi plays for, the 36-year-old forward said on Wednesday, adding he feels “a little bit scared” at the thought of the day he decides to retire.

Messi, a World Cup winner with Argentina in 2022, has a contract with the Major League Soccer side until 2025 following his arrival last summer after a spell with French champions Paris St Germain.

“Inter Miami will be my last club. I love playing football. I enjoy everything even more because I am aware that there is less and less left,” Messi told ESPN.

“I’m not ready to leave football. I’ve done this all my life, I love playing football, I enjoy training, the day-to-day, the matches… And yes, there’s always a little bit of fear that it’s all over.”

The eight-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi is preparing with his national team to defend their Copa America title, with the tournament kicking off on June 20 in the United States.

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Argentina will take on Canada in the opening match before facing Group A rivals Chile on June 25 and Peru four days later.

-Reuters

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Bidding opens for Messi napkin that defined soccer great’s career

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A guest looks at a napkin, written on by Barcelona's Sporting Director at that time Carles Rexach on December 14, 2000, promising a contract to secure 13-year-old Lionel Messi for FC Barcelona, on display at Bonhams Auctions in New York City, U.S., March 6, 2024. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

Bidding began on Wednesday for a napkin on which soccer club Barcelona penned a promise to sign a 13-year-old Lionel Messi – who went on to become one of the game’s greatest players – with early bids reaching almost $300,000.

The napkin was signed in December 2000 when Carles Rexach, then Barcelona’s sporting director, agreed with agent Horacio Gaggioli to recruit the Argentine teenager who went on to become the club’s all-time top scorer.

Bidding for the document, described by auction house Bonhams as “blue ink on a standard Spanish waxy napkin,” was at 220,000 pounds ($274,824.00) shortly after the sale opened, according to the auctioneer’s website.

The online sale closes on May 17 and has a guide price of between 300,000 and 500,000 pounds.

“It was never legally binding, but emotionally it represents the deep link or the beginning of the deep link, that Messi had with Barcelona,” said Bonhams Chief Marketing Officer Marc Sands.

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Messi helped Barcelona win 35 titles, making a record 782 appearances and scoring 674 goals. Messi left Barcelona in 2021 and now plays for Inter Miami.

“If you love football, you’ll know all about Lionel Messi and you will know that he defined football for generations. If you want a slice of that action, this is the thing to get,” Sands said.

-Reuters

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Maradona’s children wants body exhumed

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A fan of Argentine soccer superstar Diego Armado Maradona celebrates the idol's 35th anniversary of the "goal of the century", against England during the 1986 World Cup played in Mexico, in Buenos Aires, Argentina June 22, 2021. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian

Diego Maradona’s children filed a request with the Argentine Courts on Thursday to move the former football great’s body “to a much safer place” and for fans “to pay tribute” in a mausoleum.

Maradona’s remains lie in a private cemetery on the outskirts of Buenos Aires where he was carried in November 2020 in a massive funeral procession. Only family members are allowed to enter the cemetery.

The mausoleum, called “Memorial del Diez,” is located behind the Casa Rosada, the seat of the executive branch of the Argentine government, and will be open to the public, Veronica Ojeda, mother of Maradona’s youngest son, told local media.

“All the heirs request by common agreement to authorise the transfer to his next destination of eternal rest (…) in a much safer place than the current one,” said the note presented to the court signed by Dalma and Gianinna Maradona, and Ojeda on behalf of Diego Maradona Jr.

“And so that all the Argentine people and the citizens of the world can pay homage to our father who was the greatest Argentine idol.”

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The relocation will take place around Oct. 30, the birth date of the 1986 World Cup winner with Argentina, one of the family’s lawyers told reporters.

Maradona died at age 60 in November 2020 from a heart attack. Fans of Napoli and of the Argentine national team worshipped him as the “god of football.”

-Reuters

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