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Farewell Messi-Neymar-Mbappé, you were far better in theory than in practice

For the second consecutive season, a Paris Saint-Germain club entirely hellbent and solely existing for Champions League glory has failed to advance beyond the competition's last 16.

PSG now faces over six months of deep contemplation before the start of the 2023-24 UCL group stage, and although they'll rue Vitinha's inability to score on an open net/Marco Verratti carrying on the club's tradition of having the softest midfielders in the game, those failures should only emphasize how the entire squad needs investment. 

That's a lot easier to do when you don't have a payroll committed to handing three individuals (Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappé and Neymar) a total of $203 million every single season (basically 50% of total wages). You get the feeling PSG's elimination to Bayern is the end of the trio's strange spell together.

Messi's arrival triggered pandemonium in Paris, but they never dazzled together last season with Messi adapting to life in France while Neymar again struggled with injuries. The beginning of the 2022-23 campaign gave us a brief fulfillment of what we all wanted as all three looked primed and motivated before the World Cup, but the same sharpness hasn't been there since Qatar.

Neymar looked the most out-of-form until another ankle injury forced him under the knife and prematurely ended his season. Messi has returned to his role as Mbappé's sidekick and the provider of staggering genius at clutch moments, but that formula crumbled in Munich where the Frenchman had a really poor game.   

So what does the future hold? 

Mbappé isn't going anywhere after his mega extension through the 2024-25 season. The situation for Neymar is more complex. His massive contract also runs through 2025, and although Neymar is no longer the crown jewel and could be offloaded, the Brazilian's departure could only be facilitated by a select few clubs (Chelsea, Newcastle, Al-Hilal). 

Messi is the biggest question mark since his contract expires this summer, but he recently said that he's feeling a lot better in Paris. The consensus is that the option to extend his contract until June 2024 is about to be exercised. 

Ultimately, after two years of not even getting close to the final, the tough decisions fall on the shoulders of sporting director Luís Campos (who's previously clashed with Neymar). How do you breakup "MNM" when the traveling circus clearly can't run with Bayern, Real Madrid and Man City?

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