In his first season at Paris Saint-Germain, Lionel Messi recorded a respectable 11 goals and 15 assists in all competitions. Unfortunately, the former FC Barcelona superstar didn’t dominate on the pitch and failed to lead the French club past the Round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League. What will Messi do for an encore? If you ask me, I think we’re in for one hell of a show.
Messi turned 35 in June and most betting offers would indicate that his best days are behind him. That said, he still has a lot to offer and unlike Barcelona, PSG don’t need him to score goals necessarily, they need him to create chances for Kylian Mbappé and Neymar Jr.
When you look at PSG’s potential starting lineup next season, it’s likely that new manager Christophe Galtier will implement a back-three defense. This will allow Nuno Mendes and Achraf Hakimi at the full-back position to get forward more and with Mbappe and Neymar leading the attack, there should be plenty of room for Messi to create in the middle of the park.
Long gone are Messi’s patented runs through the midfield where his magisterial touch gets him past the most ardent of defenders and one-on-one with the goalkeeper. Instead, Messi will rely on his ability to see moves before they happen and play the right ball to one of PSG’s expert finishers.
Now, I’m not saying we won’t see a bit of Messi magic from time to time. I’m sure we’ll see him blast a few free kicks past a Ligue 1 goalkeeper or he may surprise us with one of those runs in the Champions League, but we shouldn’t expect it every match.
This season could be the very last that we see the best of Messi. He will likely play his last FIFA World Cup with Argentina later this year and his contract only guarantees him this season at PSG. In terms of the biggest trophies the sport has to offer, this could be Messi’s last chance to cement his legacy as the greatest footballer of all time.
For that reason, I think PSG can expect a laser-focused Messi. We already saw the Argentine international in training with PSG earlier than expected and the failure of last season surely left a poor taste in his mouth. Losing to Real Madrid is just not something Messi is used to.
If Messi can improve his game and bring a Champions League title to the French capital, he will surely go down as a PSG legend.