Paris Saint-Germain coach Christophe Galtier said on Thursday he hopes fans will give Lionel Messi a cordial reception in his final game at their Parc des Princes home.
The game on Saturday against Clermont will mark the end of Messi’s two-year stay at Qatar-backed PSG, who have already been crowned Ligue 1 champions for a record 11th time.
The Argentinian World Cup winner has been booed by the club’s supporters on more than one occasion following PSG’s elimination from the Champions League by Bayern Munich in the last 16.
“(It) will be his last game at the Parc des Princes and I dare hope he will get the best possible welcome,” Galtier said at a press conference.
“He has been important, always available.”
Galtier said he “never found” the criticism of 35-year-old Messi justified, pointing to his statistics at PSG this season of 21 goals and 20 assists.
“He has always been at the service of the team, as the passer and finisher,” Galtier said.
“I have had the privilege to coach the best player in the history of football. It has been a great privilege.”
The chances of Messi returning to his former club Barcelona appear to be fading.
One possible destination is Saudi Arabia, where he would join his former Real Madrid sparring partner Cristiano Ronaldo in a deal potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
A source close to the negotiations told AFP in May that the forward had an agreement to move to the Saudi Arabian league, without specifying which club he would join.