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Did Lionel Messi Really Have a Bad Season For PSG?

Lionel Messi: With the Argentine's birthday incoming, he sits in France with a new league winner's medal in his pocket. But people still question, did he contribute enough to the success? The answer, very simply, is yes he did, and to a great degree.

Updated: June 30, 2022 11:08 AM IST

By Purv Ashar

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Lionel Messi's Season at PSG (Image: Leo Messi- Instagram)

Paris: We’re all used to Lionel Messi donning the iconic “blaugrana”(roughly translating to deep blue and red) kit of Barcelona, with the captain’s armband around his left arm, glistening in the Camp Nou lights as he thanks the heavens after making another impossible-seeming goal into a reality. However, the Barcelona of today is no longer the Barcelona of yesterday. No longer the juggernaut bulldozing through La Liga teams who dared to cross their path, the team have now descended down to being 13 points behind sworn rivals Real Madrid last season. Nor can they build on it to close the gap, due to a their finances being in a dubious state, and transfer dealings being less than satisfactory. These issues led to the departure of the Argentine magician, who signed for Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer.

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According to many, though, things haven’t gone according to plan for “La Pulga” (Messi’s nickname, meaning The Flea) in the French capital, as his team bombed out of the Champions League and the French cup in the Round of 16, the latter a competition they should have won. He contributed significantly to the Champions League campaign, scoring five goals in the seven matches they played, and looked a threat throughout. In the French Cup he played only one match, against OGC Nice, where PSG lost on penalties. In the Champions League, however, their second leg performance against Real Madrid was inexcusable, Messi included, who got zero shots on target, but linked play exceptionally, completing 93% of his passes. But PSG were shaky in defense, with Achraf Hakimi failing to keep control of the exceptional Vinicius Jr, and simple defensive errors leading to Karim Benzema dumping the French giants out of the competition.

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In Ligue 1 however, Messi was exceptional. Despite scoring only six goals, his worst scoring season since the 2004-05 season, he contributed fifteen assists, one of his best totals till date, and was second in assists in Ligue 1, behind team-mate Kylian Mbappe. He also completed 84.9% of his passes throughout the season, more accuracy than Kevin De Bruyne (75.5%). He also completed 1,413 passes throughout the season. Additionally, unlike previous seasons, where the Argentine operated mainly down the right, the 5’9 maestro operated very centrally, spending more time in a withdrawn attacking midfield role, even occasionally dropping deep as an extra central midfielder to link up the play. This drew opponents with him, leading to more space for the likes of Neymar Jr and Kylian Mbappé, with them scoring 13 and 28 respectively. The latter also finished top scorer and top assistor in Ligue 1.

If these kind of stats were being put up by someone else, then they might be considered among the world’s best. But since these stats are being put up by the great Lionel Andrés Messi, we instantly consider it to be a bad season for him. This just shows his absurdly high standards, and how he is almost suffering from success.

Article written by Purv Ashar

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Published Date: June 23, 2022 3:16 PM IST

Updated Date: June 30, 2022 11:08 AM IST