PSG – How Lionel Messi returned to the front

After a disappointing and difficult first season at Paris Saint-Germain, the Argentinian has become an irresistible offensive weapon for his team.

By Adrian Mathieu

Lionel Messi is one of the most decisive players this season in Europe.
© Gao Jingtonglian / XinHua

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NOIt’s only November 2 and Lionel Messi has already surpassed his number of goals in Ligue 1 (7) this season compared to last year (6). But despite the numbers, the 35-year-old striker has a completely different face after a disappointing first year at Paris Saint-Germain. Before facing Juventus this Wednesday night (9 pm) in the Champions League, “La Pulga” has been impressive for a few weeks.

In view of the World Cup, the Argentinian has put himself in the best position to be fit and above all to give the full measure of his talent. When the capital club recruits the seven-time Ballon d’Or in the summer of 2021, we have to expect a little more magic on the feet and great goals. This season, Lionel Messi has lived up to these expectations.

A first season marred by physical glitches

How can this change in a few months be explained? For Philippe Goguet, editor-in-chief of CulturePSG, it is necessary to turn to the athletic aspect to understand this found Messi, as he explains to Point : “The biggest difference is mainly physical. Certainly Pochettino did not have a very conventional use of the player but, paradoxically, it was more to protect him. This year, he has done the real physical preparation, whereas at the beginning of last season the Copa America was in his legs. Then a few days after his arrival, he injured his knee after a nasty tackle in a World Cup qualifier in Venezuela. Finally, he caught Covid at Christmas and had his legs amputated, he knew it himself. »

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In a complex adaptation, a PSG quickly stopped its European dreams with the elimination of the knockout stages of the Champions League by Real Madrid and the Mbappé soap opera that messed up the end of the season, Lionel Messi went still in the background. An unusual status for a player of his rank. But great champions always know how to bounce back, and the Argentinian returned this summer with the aim of becoming a major opponent of this PSG.

“He experienced transition for the first time at 34 years old”

“You also have to consider the mind, said Philippe Goguet, with the adaptation to the life of Paris which is very different from the daily life in Barcelona. We can say that Messi is an Argentinian, we will not pretend : above all he is a Catalan. He lived for more than two decades in Barcelona, ​​​​​​​​​​​and behind it he experienced a transfer for the first time at the age of 34, with all the weight of his former club on his shoulders. “Now comfortably installed in Neuilly-sur-Seine in a luxurious pavilion, Messi is fully fulfilled in his family in France.

To return to the field, will the change of coach at PSG this summer, with Christophe Galtier replacing Mauricio Pochettino, have consequences for Lionel Messi’s rediscovered influence? Not necessarily, according to Philippe Goguet: “Galtier seems to have a very good relationship with Messi, but despite this, I don’t think the coach has that much of a hold on him. We saw him excel at Barça with a coach like Ernesto Valverde who was criticized from all over. He himself indicated that he never pushed during his career to fire a coach. »

A rediscovered and recognized Messi

In any case, Christophe Galtier repeatedly praised his player, who has been involved in 25 goals in all competitions this season (12 goals and 13 assists): “He is a genius. When he is in this register, he is comfortable. He lacked success at one point, but he insisted […] I always tell people to go to the stadium when players like him are on the pitch, because when they are gone, everyone will regret them,” said the Parisian technician after the victory in Ajaccio on October 21.

And in this sense, the former Losc and Nice coach also had an impact on the new dynamic instilled in Messi. “There is still a tactical dimension and contribution from Galtier in this rebound from Messi. He brings him closer to Neymar on the pitch so that the two can see the technical cooperation that they had little of last season. We must not use too much coach’s feet at this point,” concludes Philippe Goguet.

In order for him to further enter the hearts of Parisians, the native of Rosario knows that the Champions League will be his main justice of the peace. But while waiting for the cup with big ears, “la Pulga” is committed to the World Cup under the colors of Argentina. It remains to be seen in what state he will return from Qatar: with this World Cup in the middle of the year, the cards will have to be reshuffled for the second part of this season.

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