Lionel Messi, one of the best players of this generation, came to Paris from Camp Nou as if a superstar had landed on the French soil to attend the gala of Emmy or Academy Awards. He would don the shirt of Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) with the intention to fulfil their expectations at the top level of European competitions. On paper, PSG look like an unbeatable force, but on the pitch, they have failed to satisfy everyone and their superstar – Messi has failed till now.
While Cristiano Ronaldo’s return at Manchester United is becoming legendary in each Matchday – back in Paris and top European competitions, Messi is cutting a frustrating figure.
Lionel Messi’s home debut for Paris Saint-Germain was far from how he would have dreamt it, with the Argentine forward being substituted by Mauricio Pochettino in the second half as his side went in search of a winning goal against Lyon.
Lucas Paqueta had given the visiting team the lead after 54 minutes before Neymar equalized from the penalty spot just over 10 minutes later.
However, the game’s main talking point came when Pochettino opted to replace Messi with right-back Achraf Hakimi with 15 minutes of the match still remaining, seemingly to the six-time Ballon d’Or winner’s chagrin.
Pochettino and Messi didn’t shake hands and the pair had a brief exchange as Messi made his way to the bench.
PSG went on to win the Ligue 1 clash thanks to a Mauro Icardi header from Kylian Mbappé’s cross in stoppage time and Pochettino defended his decision to replace Messi.
“I think we all know we have great players in this 35-man squad,” Pochettino told reporters.
“Only 11 can play, we can’t play more. The decisions in the game are made for the good of the team and each player.”
“Every coach thinks about that. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes players like it and sometimes they don’t. At the end of the day, that’s why we’re here.”
“These are decisions that have to be made by the coach. As for his reaction, I asked him how he was, he said he was okay. That was it. That was our exchange.”
Messi looked lively at times during the match — hitting the woodwork with a free-kick and bringing a smart save out of Anthony Lopes – but PSG’s marquee signing still looked far from being the player fans had become used to seeing at Barcelona.
This time around, critics have started to point fingers towards Messi.
Michael Owen has claimed that Paris Saint-Germain are a weaker side after the addition of Messi.
Messi made his Champions League debut for the club in the 1-1 draw against Club Bruges, starting alongside Neymar and Kylian Mbappe as the Belgians frustrated Mauricio Pochettino’s side.
Speaking after the game, Owen explained that he believes that picking the illustrious front three in combination weakens PSG.
“As much as we drool over this PSG team with those forwards – I don’t really understand why they’re one of the favourites for it [the Champions League],” Owen explained on BT Sport.
“They’re all phenomenal players in their own right but three together makes it weaker for me.”
Analysing the former Barcelona captain’s game against Lyon, Le Parisien labelled the Argentine forward as “intermittent.”
“His time in Paris will be more complicated than expected,” the newspaper’s analysis continued.
“Messi is withering. [Dropping] his head lower and lower, he walks and no longer impacts the game.”
Despite playing just his first-ever game in home colours at the Parc des Princes, Messi has already been at the receiving end of criticism for his recent performances with PSG.
Bad time for Messi at Paris.