Lionel Messi came on as a substitute for Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday as he made his eagerly-anticipated debut vs Reims.
The Argentine forward was named on the bench for the Ligue 1 clash as Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Angel Di Maria were selected ahead of him in attack.
But Messi was eventually handed his first appearance since moving to the club from Barcelona earlier this month as a new era in the 34-year-old’s career got underway.
Messi hadn’t played since Argentina’s Copa America triumph over Brazil on July 11 but has had three weeks since his PSG move was finalised to work on his fitness.
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PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino has been relaxed over introducing Messi to the team, but admitted the forward is already settling in well at the club.
“He [Messi] is very motivated,” Pochettino said in the lead up to the game. “He’s a great professional who is adapting very fast to his new team-mates and to a new context.”
Messi joined two other new signings in Georginio Wijnaldum and Achraf Hakimi in making an appearance, joining the fray in the 66th minute in place of Neymar.
His first touch was met with a roar from the crowd and he slotted in seamlessly, as you’d expect, without pulling up any trees in his brief cameo, which ended 2-0 to PSG.
PSG were already two goals ahead by the time Messi came on as Kylian Mbappe had put them in front after just 15 minutes.
Reims looked to have levelled early in the second half when Marshall Munetsi prodded home following Keylor Navas’ save from El Bilal Toure, but the goal was ruled out for offside.
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Mbappe then bagged his second soon after, tucking away Hakimi’s cross to set the stage for Messi to come on.
The Frenchman’s future in Paris is under intense scrutiny amid transfer interest from Real Madrid , but that didn’t stop him getting his side off the mark as he headed home Angel Di Maria’s cross.
PSG face a battle to keep hold of Mbappe in the short to mid-term, but are adamant he will not be sold before Tuesday’s transfer deadline.
The club are desperate to field Messi, Mbappe and Neymar as their forward trio this season and have knocked back two bids from Madrid so far, with the latest being in the region of 180million euros (£154m).
President Nasser Al-Khelaifi reiterated PSG’s position on Friday, telling L’Equipe: “The club’s stance is clear, nothing has changed.
“Everything is still the same, we will not change [our stance] or repeat it.
“[PSG’s sporting director] Leonardo was very clear in speaking about the situation and what we thought,” he said.
“We are still thinking the same and that won’t change.”
Photo Credit: Getty