Soccer player Lionel Messi is isolating in his native Argentina after testing positive for Covid-19, club Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) announced, one of four PSG players to test positive as sports leagues around the world contend with new outbreaks of coronavirus.
Three other players—Juan Bernat, Sergio Rico and Nathan Bitumazala—have also tested positive and are isolating according to health protocol, the club said.
Messi, who returned to his home country over the winter break, will remain in Argentina until he tests negative, PSG manager Mauricio Pochettino said at a press conference, according to Bloomberg.
Incoming French rules require fully vaccinated people to isolate for seven days after testing positive for coronavirus, though this can be shortened to five days following a negative PCR or antigen test.
As Messi will not be able to travel to France until he tests negative, Pochettino said his timeline is more uncertain and he couldn’t predict when the player might return to the pitch.
PSG also said Neymar Jr., recovering from an ankle injury in Brazil, is expected to return to training in around three weeks.
Messi, 34, is widely considered one of soccer’s best active players and one of the sporting world’s most bankable stars. He joined PSG after 20 years at FC Barcelona—he joined their youth academy at the age of 12—after the team couldn’t meet his salary requirements. PSG is scheduled to take on Vannes in the French Cup Monday and its first league game of the year—against Lyon—is slated for next Sunday, 9 January.
$110 million. That’s how much Messi is set to earn before taxes in the 2021-22 season, according to a Forbes estimate. The majority—$75 million—comes from the soccer player’s salary at PSG, which is bolstered by endorsements from the likes of Adidas, Pepsi and Budweiser. The figure places Messi among the world’s best paid athletes and makes him the second-highest paid soccer player of the 2021-22 season.