The 2021-22 season delivered another league title for Lionel Messi’s impressive collection of honours, but there was little else for a mercurial Argentine to get excited about during a testing debut campaign at Paris Saint-Germain.
Questions were asked from the moment that he arrived at Parc des Princes about whether an all-time great really wanted to be in the French capital. A new challenge was being embraced, with positive noises sounded in public, but a move had been rather forced upon him.
Severing ties with Barcelona may have crossed his mind at various points down the years, but life was good at Camp Nou for the Messis when an exit door was forced open for them in the summer of 2021.
The plan for all concerned in Catalunya had been to thrash out fresh terms and put a new contract in place for a man expected to see out his playing days – or at least his very best years – on Barcelona’s books. Once it became apparent that there was no money left in the pot, a parting of ways became inevitable.
PSG could not believe their luck when a player heading towards a seventh Ballon d’Or triumph fell into their lap, with the Ligue 1 giants unable to get paperwork and shirts printed quickly enough.
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”it” dir=”ltr”>Lionel Andres Messi. <a href=”https://t.co/wwyLLjVxQk”>pic.twitter.com/wwyLLjVxQk</a></p>— GOAL (@goal) <a href=”https://twitter.com/goal/status/1540256695057776640?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>June 24, 2022</a></blockquote> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>
Messi will, for as long as he remains on their books, mean more to them than merely efforts on the pitch, with his marketing appeal making him of obvious interest to a club seeking to expand its reach to every corner of the planet, but it is on the pitch that he truly earns his money.
Messi only just recorded 11 goals through 34 appearances last term, with that return representing a 16-year low for one of the best to ever do it. A rare blip can be put down to teething problems in new surroundings, with the expectation being that Messi will burst back into life once fully settled in France.
PSG will be looking for that process to be completed sooner rather than later, with Argentina also relying on a talismanic presence feeling happy enough domestically that he is able to deliver on a regular basis in an international arena.
That has not been a problem so far, with Messi continuing to amaze and inspire when lining up for his country. That bodes well with the World Cup finals fast approaching, with the best football betting website (เว็บพนันบอลที่ดีที่สุด) likely to see plenty of traffic as a loyal following from Bangkok to Buenos Aires flock to nail their colours to an Albiceleste mast. As the biggest seller of shirts on the planet, with areas such as Thailand – where he boasts numerous fan clubs and paid a pre-season visit with Barcelona in 2013 – contributing significantly to those sales, he can expect to pool ever more support from the region when heading to the Middle East. His mere presence in any given side continues to attract plenty of backing with Thai bookmakers, as Dafabet rates Argentina as 9/1 shots for global glory in Qatar while PSG is priced at 1/10 to successfully defend their Ligue 1 crown in 2023.
If more major silverware is to be chased down by one of the most decorated sporting icons, then he is once again going to have to find a way of producing acts of seemingly superhuman endeavour. He has plenty of history in that department, but suggestions of those powers being on the wane have started to surface.
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Always be thankful to have lived in the Lionel Messi era ?? ? <a href=”https://t.co/Flc5BVBDRy”>pic.twitter.com/Flc5BVBDRy</a></p>— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) <a href=”https://twitter.com/FIFAWorldCup/status/1540361736515108865?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>June 24, 2022</a></blockquote> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>
To write Messi off would be foolish, as he would like nothing more than to silence any doubters in the only way he knows how, but there will be recognition from a man who has spent so long at the very top of his chosen profession that he will have to start heading down the other side of that mountain at some stage.
Now is not the time to tread that path, with there so much to play for in the coming weeks and months. The ability to raise their game for the big occasion is what continues to separate the best from the rest, with a remarkable knack for performing when it matters most having been picked up down the years.
There is no doubt that Messi retains a standing among the footballing elite and regardless of what recent showings for PSG might suggest, there is every reason to believe that a well-used magic wand will be back in full working order by the time the most prestigious of trophies fall back within his reach.