Is the former Barca star finished?
Lionel Messi shook the world of football last summer when, at a hastily arranged press conference, the Argentina international broke down in tears for all to see and revealed that he would have to leave Barcelona due to the club’s financial limits. Then, as quickly as possible, the best player of his generation then popped up in Paris holding a Paris Saint-Germain shirt. French football had a new global star.
Messi’s arrival at the Parc des Princes was supposed to be the final piece of the puzzle for the ambitious and fiercely-financed French side, who already had remarkable firepower in Neymar and Kylian Mbappe to call upon. Many questioned how the Argentine forward would fit into a team that was already so top-heavy, but the simple allure of this star-studded side undoubtedly caught the imagination of football fans across the world.
Jun 30, 2023
Jun 30, 2022
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Now, almost 12 months after making his move to PSG, a look back at Messi’s first season in French football suggests that things haven’t gone to plan at all. And while the 34-year-old star has been able to add a Ligue 1 title to his bulging trophy cabinet, the 2021/22 season may go down as perhaps the most disappointing in Messi’s career to date. And perhaps a sign of things to come for the ageing talent.
There are still two games left of PSG’s season
But it’s unlikely that Lionel Messi will be able to turn around what has undoubtedly been a poor first season in France pic.twitter.com/QragTiUBNz
— Transfermarkt.co.uk (@TMuk_news) May 11, 2022
A struggle to keep up appearances – Messi’s first season in France
Indeed, when we take a look at Messi’s numbers over the course of the last season they certainly suggest that the forward simply wasn’t fit or capable of matching the numbers he was picking up at Barcelona even up until his final campaign with the club. Such has been the dramatic drop off in goals and assists. Over the course of the season thus far – with two games left of the Ligue 1 campaign to play – Messi has managed just nine goals and 13 assists across no less than 32 games in all competitions. Not only is that some way off his return from the previous season of 38 goals and 14 assists, but his average contributions per game have also taken a worrying nosedive in the French capital.
So far this season Messi is averaging just 0.74 goals and assists per 90 minutes of football for his new club. While that wouldn’t be a bad return at all for most players, it’s some way off what the world has come to expect from the forward. For example, last season he averaged 1.12 goals and assists per 90 in what was considered a poor campaign with Barca and averaged 1.38 per 90 over the previous five seasons at the Catalan giants. Which suggests Messi’s return for this season has almost halved to what he was offering in Spain.
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Whether Messi will be able to return to his former glory after a proper pre-season at PSG or whether this may suggest the player may finally be coming to the end of his glory days remains to be seen. But there’s no doubt that the rest of European football will be watching intently to see which Messi shows up next season.