By Mukwuzi Joseph
Lionel Messi finally made his highly anticipated debut for new club Paris St-Germain on Sunday. The Argentine came in as a 66th-minute substitute in front of a sold-out away crowd as PSG defeated Reims 2-0 in Ligue 1. Wantaway forward Kylian Mbappe scored both goals.
It was an unusual sight to see Messi wearing his number 30 PSG shirt, but he proved that the new environment was not going to stop him from giving his best. Manager Mauricio Pochettino decided to ease him into the squad slowly, choosing to bring him in as a substitute instead of starting him on his debut.
“He is still far away from his best form but he has been training well and he will be fit in the next two weeks,” Pochettino said, as quoted by the BBC.
Fans had been eager to see Messi debut for PSG, and spectators from both sides applauded in excitement as soon as he started warming up. Shortly after the second PSG goal, Messi came in to replace his former Barcelona teammate Neymar Jr.
“We are waiting for the best from him. I’m very happy that he made his debut. It was very important for him. He was good, from his first touches he gave the team peace of mind. It’s good for him to start with a win,” added Pochettino, noting that while Messi did not score, he was a clear threat and drew numerous fouls as Reims players tried their best to neturalise his impact.
Kylian Mbappe scored both of his goals thanks to assists from former Real Madrid players. Angel di Maria set him up for the first goal while new arrival Achraf Hakimi provided the second cross.
Incidentally, those may be Mbappe’s final two goals for PSG, with his transfer to Real Madrid currently in the works. However, his performance on Sunday may have strengthened PSG’s stance about not wanting to sell him this summer.