The decline of the legend ?
It is no longer a secret or revelation that Lionel Messi is experiencing the worst part of his career since joining PSG. That is largely why the awarding of the Golden Ball has caused such fierce outrage: Messi has not shown the public the real Messi for a long time, you can not be the best footballer in the world nominally, it must be proved in every match. The Argentine in a Paris Saint-Germain shirt in almost every meeting proves the opposite – that his time has passed, and all the good has remained at Barcelona.
Your expectations are your problems
In the last two games PSG won only thanks to Kylian Mbappe’s winning goals in the added minutes of the second half: on 90+2 the Frenchman broke the null draw in the game against Rennes, on 90+3 he pinched his future club in the Champions League. In the game against Rennes, Mbappe scored with an assist from Messi, but the Argentine still received a low rating from L’Équipe and received a fair amount of criticism.
Admittedly, there is an element of mammoth hunting in Leo’s criticism. Everyone dreams of kicking a huge beast when it’s already down and can’t fight back. But that’s the way of the world, the evaluation always depends on expectations, and in Messi’s case they were not just exaggerated, but exorbitant. And after all, the Argentine is objectively bad at PSG, even by the standards of the average footballer, and the Parisian public, you know, was waiting for an alien.
The match against Real Madrid could have reset Messi’s attitude and his career in Paris
There was a vague hope that we would see the real Messi in the match against Real Madrid. Maybe he’s bored as hell with punishing vassals in Ligue 1, but against the principle rival of a lifetime, Leo seemed bound to play his best. And you know what the best part is? Messi really played differently against Real Madrid than he does in the French championship matches. Lionel has significantly increased the amount of work with the ball and involvement in team play, but the sad conclusion is that the quality remained at the level of previous matches for PSG.
Messi started to take on more, but he didn’t become more useful. He took 8 shots on goal (3 missed, 3 blocked, 2 saved by Courtois), missed the penalty and was left out of the scoring game between Neymar and Mbappe. And when the whole team rushed to congratulate Kilian with a beautiful and so important goal, Messi rubbed his nose, turned to the judge and leisurely walked to the center of the rejoicing. It is not the king’s business to rejoice in other people’s successes. PSG, apparently, cannot give Leo any reason to be happy. Well, if the winning goal against Real Madrid in the 90 + 3 minutes does not catch on…
Or maybe Real Madrid are not an irritant to Messi? Since Cristiano Ronaldo moved to Juventus in 2018, Lionel has not scored once and has made an assist in eight games against the “creel”. And it’s also funny that almost simultaneously with Leo’s miss from the penalty spot, Ronaldo broke his goal scoring drought and scored a classy goal for Manchester United against Brighton. Such is their connection.
Messi has seven goals at PSG in six months
Leo joined Paris Saint-Germain on August 10, 2021, which means he has been at the French club for six months. During this time, he scored 7 goals and made 7 assists in 21 games. Do you think that’s not so bad? Not by Messi’s standards! The 0.33 goals per game average is the Argentine’s worst result in 15 years. He had 0.11 in his debut campaign in 2004/05 and 0.32 the following season in 2005/06, and after reaching a plateau in 13 seasons in a row he has not dropped below 0.7 goals per game, and in five campaigns he has had more goals than games played. The record is 1.22 in the phenomenal 2011/12 season.
It turns out this season he’s more than twice as bad as his worst version of the last 13 years, and that’s serious. Nothing foretold such a dramatic drop, and last season for Barcelona, Leo was scoring consistently – 0.81 goals per game. Messi is not yet a deep old man, he is 34 years old, Ronaldo in his 37 feels more confident in a more competitive league – 0.56 goals per game, that is scoring on average in every second game. The stats in the domestic championships are even worse: 9 goals in 21 games (0.43 average) for Ronaldo in the APL and 2 goals in 14 games (0.14) for Messi in Ligue 1.