The Argentine world champions are not so easy to reintegrate after their special leave. Now superstar Lionel Messi is returning to everyday life with Paris Saint-Germain, to soon be jetting back to Qatar.
By Frank Hellman
01/10/2023 – 16:04
For PR purposes, it was hardly surprising that the camera on the club’s own Paris Saint-Germain TV station focused almost exclusively on the bearded man wearing red shoes and black gloves on Tuesday. And who didn’t even have to be in the middle of the circle game. Unmistakable sign that Lionel Messi has forgotten little or nothing despite a special leave. But at some point the Argentine megastar has to return to everyday life in France.
After the final training session, PSG trainer Christophe Galtier expressed his delight at Messi and Neymar’s upcoming restarts, for whose reintegration the league leaders’ home game against Angers SCO at the bottom this Wednesday (9 p.m.) is a good idea. In Ligue 1 there is no easier opponent than the bottom of the table. Before kick-off, the packed Prinzenpark should bow in applause to Messi after the 35-year-old trotted through a trellis of clapping teammates last week.
Kylian Mbappé will miss Paris
Kylian Mbappé is still missing: The Frenchman, who was successful three times in the World Cup final, had arrived at his employer much earlier than Messi, but had seemed so exhausted on New Year’s Day in the defeat at the surprise second RC Lens (1: 3) that he now took a creative break is granted. Messi, Mbappé and Neymar only have to storm together again when things get serious in the Champions League round of 16 against FC Bayern (February 14/March 8).
Next week, the star ensemble will quickly jet off again for a short trip to Qatar and Saudi Arabia to hold a show training session in Doha before a show match against Messi’s rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who has switched to Al-Nassr, in Riyadh. Such detours are part of the global marketing strategy from which Messi also benefits enormously. Because his contract expires in Paris in the summer, a hot poker game for the services of the world’s best footballer could be imminent.
heroes at home
After the overwhelming reception in Buenos Aires, everyone allowed him and his teammates to be able to bask in the glory of the gold cup at home. The well-stocked social media channels testified that families and friends in particular were able to share in the joy of the world champions.
At the turn of the year, Messi again wrote about a dream that would have been worth nothing if he “couldn’t share it with a wonderful family”.
Penalty hero Emiliano “Dibu” Martinez made similar statements, leaning on the sofa in the background at a meeting with relatives in Mar del Plata, which looked much more decent than the golden glove held in front of his trousers after the award ceremony for the award as the best World Cup -Goalkeeper. His club manager Unai Emery found the obscene gesture (and other naughtiness) at Aston Villa to be hilarious, prompting the Spaniard to have a clarifying chat with the child’s head between the posts.
Martinez has only saved the goal in the home game against Wolverhampton Wanderes (1-1), when Villa’s first-choice keeper was greeted with Argentinian flags and banners. But even in the FA Cup embarrassment against fourth division Stevenage (1: 2), the 30-year-old was on the bench on Sunday when his deputy Robin Olsen made a mistake. That could bring Martinez back into the starting XI in the league game against Leeds United (Friday, 9 p.m.). Other heroes have also lost their regular places, at least for the time being, or are fighting to catch up.
Bankdrücker: Rodrigo de Paul
The fighter Rodrigo de Paul, who was seeded at the World Cup under world champion coach Lionel Scaloni, was not even substituted on by compatriot Diego Simeone at Atlético Madrid in the top game against FC Barcelona (0:1). And Messi’s strike partner Julian Alvarez only played for Manchester City in the cup against Chelsea (4-0) because the starting eleven was rested. Alvarez scored from the penalty spot, but will probably be the joker again in the derby against Manchester United (Saturday, 1.30 p.m.).
Others are keen to capitalize on the increase in their own market value sooner rather than later: Enzo Fernández, another reliable midfield bodyguard for magician Messi, is pushing Benfica for release because Chelsea want him badly. 80 million euros are available as a transfer fee for the 21-year-old. Fans of the traditional Portuguese club are already calling him a traitor. So the ridge remains narrow for every world champion. There is a danger that the greed for even more fame and fortune will turn one or the other’s head. Anyone who then still thinks they might have to take one step less has usually already lost. Messi is most likely to be trusted to trick these pitfalls after the greatest of all titles. Only he seems to have the gift of solving the most difficult tasks without much effort.