Lionel Messi, the “Chip” on the rebound. Will the brilliant 35-year-old striker finally convince with Paris SG in the middle of a World Cup year? His talent and his motivation plead for him.
After a Parisian debut very far from his standards, Lionel Messi hopes to bounce back and ward off the specter of decline with a double objective: to break the glass ceiling of Paris SG in the Champions League and to succeed in his ultimate challenge with Argentina at the World Cup- 2022.
His time is running out
PSG’s tour of Japan, marked on Wednesday by a first friendly match against Kawasaki Frontale in Tokyo (12:30 p.m.), should allow us to see the “real” Messi again, that of Barcelona, not that of his first year in Paris. As he enters the second and final year of his contract with the capital club (which also includes an optional additional year), the Argentinian knows that time is running out for him to leave a mark of his time in Paris. .
So far, the account is not there and the supporters of the Rouge et Bleu have had difficulty in recognizing the “Chip”, considered as one of the greatest players in history. –
11 goals, 14 assists, meager record
With 11 goals and 14 assists in 34 games in all competitions, the record is poor for the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner and the stark contrast between the expectation aroused by his triumphant arrival in the summer of 2021 and his performance on the pitch. .
At 35, is Messi finished? It is to this question that the superstar must answer during an exercise where important deadlines will not be lacking. Unlike Neymar, whose lifestyle annoys even his leaders, the Argentinian was able to benefit from a certain indulgence due to his hasty departure from his Catalan cocoon, where he spent his entire life as a footballer before to land in Paris, somewhat reluctantly.
But he knows well that benevolence will not last forever. To prevent his French stay from turning into a fiasco, Messi must regain all his splendour. It is also one of the missions of the new coach Christophe Galtier to imagine the right compromise to place his Argentinian star in the best possible position alongside the two other Parisian stars, Kylian Mbappé and Neymar. A task that his Argentinian predecessor Mauricio Pochettino failed to accomplish.
After a disputed half-time against Quevilly-Rouen (L2) on the occasion of the first pre-season friendly match won 2-0 by PSG on Friday, Messi should find his two friends on Wednesday in Tokyo. If we rely on the tactical implementation carried out on Monday, the Argentinian could evolve in support of the Mbappé-Neymar duo.
An enticing configuration but which still raises the question of the defensive balance of the team, especially in the Champions League, which remains the ultimate objective of the Qatari owners of the club, still reeling from the bitter failure suffered in March in Round of 16 against Real Madrid. Galtier, he does not doubt the resurrection of the native of Rosario.
You have to have a lot of respect for someone who says, at 34: “I want to live something else”.
“It’s a new life here for him, a new family life, a new playing life. You have to have a lot of respect for someone who says, at 34, ‘I want to live something different’. Everyone is not able to do it. Obviously, there is a time of adaptation. From what I can see for ten days, he is a player totally invested. The rest, the whole planet knows what he is able to do,” he said in an interview with L’Equipe on Saturday.
Brilliant with Argentina
The performance of “La Pulga” with Argentina in any case contradicts the thesis of a player on the decline. A year after winning his first major title with the Albiceleste at the Copa America, Messi was sparkling during the “Finalissima”, a gala match won against European champions Italy (3-0) with two assists.
Four days later, he scored a quintuple in a friendly match against Estonia (5-0). Enough to increase his motivation for the World Cup (November 21-December 18), his likely last big meeting with his selection.
A boon also for PSG, who can count on a Messi involved and anxious to prepare as best as possible to get the only trophy missing from his huge list.