without Mbappé or Neymar, Messi more than ever at the heart of the game

without Mbappé or Neymar, Messi more than ever at the heart of the game

DECRYPTION – The 35-year-old Argentinian world champion will be more than ever expected… like the messiah this Saturday (5 p.m.), against Toulouse.

The misfortune of some… Forced to share the leading role since his arrival in Paris, Leo Messi took over the number 1 bib by force of circumstance on Wednesday, in Montpellier (3-1 victory). Deprived of Neymar, PSG indeed lost Kylian Mbappé to injury at the start of the game. Extinct three days earlier against Reims (1-1), the 35-year-old world champion quickly resumed his (good) habits, those of Barça and Argentina. “He knew how to take the game in hand, with the absences and exits of Kylian and Sergio (Ramos). At the end of the first half and in the second half he was a natural leader and the players put themselves at the service of Leo», noted Christophe Galtier, Friday, in front of the press.

A bit like we saw with the Albiceleste in Qatar, the Red and Blue have indeed put on the warm-up blue, doing all the dirty work around the Argentine star. It is up to him to do the rest, to animate, to conclude. Besides, Messi also got his hands dirty. He also scored a goal, his 14th this season (23 matches). A marvel of precision, like Fabian Ruiz’s assist. No one will be surprised to see the Pulga make this kind of gesture. However, we had rarely seen, never in fact, PSG in this configuration. It will be the same story against Toulouse this Saturday (5 p.m.), during the 22nd day of Ligue 1while Neymar Jr (adductor) and Kylian Mbappé (thigh) will be missing.

Due to the combined absences of Kylian and Ney, I have to organize the team around Leo.

Christophe Galtier

Automatically there were a lot of connections between Leo and Kylian, Leo and Ney, Ney and Kylian. Due to the combined absences of Kylian and Ney, I have to organize the team around Leo, a bit like we did in Montpellier after Kylian’s exit“, notes Galtier, noting that”Leo will be in his register, always placed where he should be placed, in the zone in which he likes to evolve. Afterwards, it is up to the players around Leo, those who will replace Ney and Kylian in this series of matches, to raise their level of play, to be very available and to seize opportunities to play.“A priori, this concerns in particular Hugo Ekitike and Carlos Soler, perhaps Renato Sanches. It will be with a defense of three or in 4-4-2 diamond, and especially not in 4-4-2 flat. “We paid to see“, smiles the Parisian coach, thinking back to the unworthy first period against Reims.

There is always that if he admits having hada little ashamed» to be the center of attention during the little fiesta organized at the Camp des Logeson his return from Qatar, Leo Messi does not suffer from any inhibitions as a boss on the meadow. We even saw him as a charismatic leader, as a pack leader during the World Cup, against the Netherlands in particular. “I don’t like these thingshe explains for the newspaper Oleabout this celebration at the club’s training grounds. Although obviously I enjoyed it and it was something very nice. I’m a little ashamed to be the center and to be treated this way. But it was good to have the recognition of all the people who work there and my colleagues from Paris“. All while slipping in passing that he has “no problem with Kylian Mbappé, quite the contrary“. Nevertheless, without the 24-year-old French international and “Ney”, the keys to the truck are for him.

A year of adaptation

Remember that Messi, pushed out in Barcelona, ​​landed in Paris in 2021. He was leaving for… a long year of adaptation, with the Madrid crash along the way. Change of scenery at the start of the 2022-23 season, with Leo Messi finally at home in the French capital, comfortable on the pitch with his partners but also outside and focused on his goal at the World Cup. He then guided “his” Argentina to the coronation against… Mbappé’s France.

Not enough to satiate the native of Rosario, who wants “always more» in club and selection. Besides, he does not rule out pushing until the 2026 World Cup ! “If I leave the door open? Yes. I don’t anticipate anything either. Due to age and time, it seems to me that it is difficult. But it depends on the evolution of my career. Today I will be 36 years old. I will see where my career goes, what I will do and it depends on a lot of things.As for his club career, Messi has an option for 2023-24. We know that the “Qatar-SG” is pushing to extend it beyond the next exercise. The tendency is to see it stack up again.

In the meantime, Leo Messi’s present goes through Toulouse, 12th in L1 standings before the day. A match in which Kylian Mbappé and Neymar will not be the only absentees. Sergio Ramos, Presnel Kimpembe, Nordi Mukiele (injured) and Marco Verratti (suspended) will be missing. “That’s a lot of people“, grinds Christophe Galtier. Not to mention that the French champions drew a blank during the transfer window, between the imbroglio Hakim Ziyech and the failure Milan Skriniar. “We will make with the workforce that I have at my disposal, a quality workforce. I also have quality young people arriving. I’m not at all bitter about the transfer window“, he notes.

When Leo is at the service of the team, it is also necessary that the players who are around put themselves at the service of Leo. It is an obligation.

Christophe Galtier

One thing is certain: this workforce is less warlike than those that Galtier was able to lead in the past in Saint-Etienne, Lille or Nice. The fault of players like Messi, with other qualities. “I have players who are focused on the offensive animation, the penultimate pass, the pass and the goal. It’s up to me to organize around these players a team that is as coherent as possible, with the best relations, but a team capable of defending well too. There are absences. The team will have another face with the absences of Kylian and Ney but that’s how it is“, he notes. And to add:When Leo serves the team, the players around must also serve Leo. It is an obligation.The seven-time Ballon d’Or will not complain, even if it is with the full “MNM” that PSG can aim for the highest honors. Like this Champions League after which he has been desperately chasing since 2015.

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