Without the ultras on strike but with Leo Messi back from suspension, Paris Saint-Germain receives Ajaccio on Saturday (9:00 p.m.), almost condemned to relegation, and can get a little closer to an eleventh French championship title.
It would be an absolute record because PSG could become the most successful club in the French Championship, ahead of Saint-Étienne and its ten trophies.
But the smell of the title is intertwined with a scent of crisis, almost permanent at the end of the season. And this will still be the case on Saturday in the spans of the Parc des Princes, deserted by its ultras.
They have been on strike since Wednesday and “until further notice”. The Collectif Ultras Paris (CUP) has decided to temporarily cease its activity in the stands due to a conflict with the club’s management, not to mention the disappointing sporting results.
In particular, they ask for the abandonment of the plan to buy the Stade de France or the redesign of the official ticket resale site “Ticketplace”, deemed too expensive.
The ultras also accuse the club of having canceled their 450 tickets for Sunday’s trip to Troyes (3-1), a collective punishment after a demonstration led by supporters in front of Neymar’s home and in front of the PSG headquarters in Boulogne-Billancourt .
“It is never with pleasure that we receive this kind of news. We know that our supporters and the CUP are important supporters and who create a huge atmosphere, whether at the Park or outside (. ..), I will not comment on the decision,” coach Christophe Galtier reacted on Friday.
Messi, penultimate at the Park?
Sportingly, the results are down sharply in 2023. While PSG finished the first part of the season undefeated, it has since January 1 conceded six defeats in L1, not counting elimination in the Champions League and the Coupe de France. .
On the extra-sporting side, the atmosphere has also been tense for weeks between the indictment for rape of Achraf Hakimi, the quarrel with the town hall of Paris for the takeover of the Parc des Princes, the message of Kylian Mbappé dissatisfied with the use of his image for a re-subscription campaign, accusations of racism against Galtier and the suspension of Messi.
The Argentinian world champion, suspended last week by the club for his trip to Saudi Arabia, “will start” against Ajaccio, Galtier said on Friday.
“Obviously I spoke with Leo about his return to us, I found him very calm, very motivated to play, very determined to win another title of champion of France (…). Yes Leo will start tomorrow (Saturday)”, explained the Parisian coach. Messi missed the trip to Troyes but resumed training on Monday.
Saturday could be the penultimate appearance of the seven-time Ballon d’Or at the Parc des Princes as Messi, at the end of his contract with Paris, is close to joining the very lucrative Saudi Arabia where a “huge” offer was submitted, according to a source in Riyadh.
Facing Ajaccio, which could be relegated on Saturday, Galtier is tempted to align Hugo Ekitike with Messi and Mbappé: “The reflection exists. We worked on two animations, in particular one where there could be three offensive players”, he said. slipped.
“I remain on what we did in Troyes, by incorporating Leo. We will have to find an attacking animation as interesting as what we could find against Troyes”, added the coach, who will also be able to count on Achraf Hakimi, back from suspension.
At PSG, “life is not a long calm river, things happen, but no, there is no wear and tear at home, no desire to be on vacation quickly to recover. There is a very great determination”, assured the coach, also suspected of having made discriminatory remarks during his visit to Nice.
The coach of OGC Nice, Didier Digard and players from the Gym were also interviewed this week as part of the preliminary investigation in Nice, a source familiar with the matter told AFP.