Paris Saint-Germain announced, on Saturday before the last match of the season, the end of Lionel Messi’s adventure in the capital. The Argentinian will go free on June 30, after two lackluster seasons.
32 achievements and 35 caviars in 74 games, two French championship titles and a trophy for best passer this season as a bonus… For any player, such a record after two seasons at the club would be satisfactory, even commendable. Not for Lionel Messi. Paris Saint-Germain announced on Saturday June 3, through a press release on its networks, the end of the collaboration with its Argentine star, not extended at the end of his contract on June 30. “Thank you to the club, to the city of Paris and to its inhabitants for these two years. I wish them the best for the future”, declares the Argentinian there. “His contribution to Paris Saint-Germain and Ligue 1 cannot be underestimated and we wish Leo and his family all the best for the future,” adds PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi. But what will remain of the passage of Rosario’s child in the capital?
Signature with great fanfare but difficult first steps
Obviously, the initial shock wave. Who would have imagined, 10 years ago, and even after the takeover by Qatar, that Lionel Messi would one day defend the colors of PSG? Linked to FC Barcelona – his forever club – since the age of 13, “Leo” seemed unstoppable in Catalonia. However, in the summer of 2021, the Blaugranas must face the facts. In debt and no longer able to meet the financial demands of the man who is considered the best player on the planet, Barça must let their jewel slip away in one of the only clubs capable of welcoming him: Paris Saint-Germain.
On August 10, just five days after the Catalans announced they would not offer him a new contract, Messi landed – free – at Le Bourget airport to the cheers of hundreds of Parisian fans. During his presentation at the Parc des Princes, the “Pulga” then declared his love for his new team. “The club and its vision are in perfect harmony with my ambitions. I know how talented the players and the staff are here. I am determined to build, alongside them, something great for the club and for the fans”. A glorious speech, but which however took time to take shape on the ground.
Because if his first goal with PSG, scored in a gala match in the Champions League against the ogre Manchester City on a brilliant delivery from Kylian Mbappé, foreshadowed a rise in power to come, the adaptation of Messi to French life took time. His first achievement in Ligue 1 waited until the end of November against Nantes and was followed by only five other small pawns for his first season.
Worse, the Argentinian misses a decisive penalty in the round of 16 first leg against Real Madrid in a sadly fatal double confrontation at PSG (1-0, 3-1), during which he is conspicuous by his absence. What also feed the criticism around his seventh Ballon d’or received a few months earlier – the first for a player playing in France since Jean-Pierre Papin in 1991 – and that many would have attributed to Robert Lewandowski. What also attract the whistles and the wrath of the public of the Park, dissatisfied with its performance and its lack of defensive withdrawal, like Neymar.
A World Cup and then leaves
An end of the 2021-2022 fiscal year in blood sausage later, the two former Barça players however return to the field early in the offseason, in the company of a freshly extended Kylian Mbappé and Christophe Galtier, who arrived on the bench to replace Mauricio Pochettino. The reason ? A singular year with the World Cup at the end of November in sight, and the last chance for Messi to win the supreme title.
During the club’s summer tour in Japan, the Argentinian finally appears all smiles with his teammates and it pays off on the meadow. Well launched by its Pulga, PSG won the Champions Trophy against Nantes (4-0) and crushed the competition during the first 15 days of the championship thanks to an MNM inspired by the image of the bicycle registered by “Léo” in Clermont . “It’s different from last yearnotes the 35-year-old striker in the face of the Argentine press in September 2022. Last year, I went through a bad period. I never found myself. Here it is different. I came back with another state of mind, being more comfortable at the club, with the locker room, the game, the teammates. The truth is that I feel very good and I’m enjoying it again.”
The sequel is well known. A world title with the Albiceleste, a general demobilization of the Parisian locker room and a Messi on alternating current even if Galtier persists. “I ask the team to play for Leo and work for him”, loose in early February, after a difficult victory against Toulouse (2-1), the Parisian tactician, accused of basing his game plan on the individual qualities of his new world champion in the absence of Mbappé, injured. However, this will not be enough, neither against OM in the Cup (2-1), nor against Bayern Munich in the Champions League (0-1, 0-2).
Expected as the savior, the number 30 finally leaves Paris in conflict with the supporters after a two-week suspension imposed by the management due to an improvised trip to Saudi Arabia to meet sponsorship obligations there. After a long year, Paris has still managed to maintain its lead in Ligue 1, but the club’s 9 defeats in the second half of the season weigh heavily. If Messi will have made it possible to make the PSG brand shine throughout the world, in particular thanks to the sale of jerseys, his sporting record will remain one more failure on the Parisian side. And will leave a huge impression of waste.
Source: France TV Info