Lionel Messi was a happy face as he returned to PSG training for the first time since being crowned as the world champion with Argentina. The 35-year-old was the last one to return among those who were in Qatar for World Cup duty for their respective countries, as the Argentina captain had soaked himself in celebrations of his triumph at the tournament.
He is however back now in Paris, as Messi reportedly had an awkward reunion with Kylian Mbappe there, for the first time since his Argentina beat the youngster’s France in the final of the World Cup. Moreover, Messi’s national teammate Emi Martinez’s constant mocking of Mbappe too has left a bad taste in the mouth of the France forward. But the former Barca man’s best friend and teammate Neymar had all smiles on reuniting with the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner.
Lionel Messi, Neymar all smiles in PSG training
Lionel Messi received a hero’s welcome back at the PSG training base after he led Argentina to World Cup glory in Qatar last month. The captain spearheaded his team from the front, scoring 7 goals and providing 3 assists across the 7 games. Messi bagged a brace as well in the final against Mbappe’s France, which ultimately earned him the world crown as well as the Golden Ball for the best player.
The PSG number-30 capped off a brilliant 2022 on personal terms, where he netted 35 goals and bagged 30 assists in 51 games for club and country. Messi also lifted the Ligue 1 title and the French Super Cup with PSG last year, and then finally had his hands on the World Cup trophy to finish the year with three titles in the bag. He is now being touted as the favourite as well to his record-extending eighth Ballon d’Or award this year.
Meanwhile, the ‘La Pulga’ seems to be enjoying his life in Paris with Neymar, who had a heartbreaking tournament in Qatar after his Brazil was knocked out from the quarterfinals by Croatia on penalties. However, the 30-year-old still joined Messi in his celebrations, after being amongst the firsts to congratulate him and now welcoming the world champion in PSG training with all smiles. The Brazilian recently posted a picture on Instagram with Messi, along with a hilarious caption, ‘We hardly know each other’.
Lionel Messi too re-posted the same photo as both apparently had fun in training. However, Mbappe was still missing as he wasn’t even seen during the club’s welcome gesture for the Argentine, as they paid tribute to him in style on his return. The relationship between Messi and Mbappe, which was developing in a positive manner this season after some rifts were reported last season, once again appears to have taken a hit.
Nonetheless, the two will have to put aside their international rivalry as PSG’s next big task is the Champions League Round of 16 double header against German giants Bayern Munich. Both the club are in scintillating form, with the French side having a Lionel Messi who is feeling more at home in Paris than last season, having racked up 12 goals and 14 assists in 19 games for the club in all competitions.