Soccer | Ligue 1

Lionel Messi’s makes PSG debut with 2-0 win at Reims

Lionel Messi came in as a 66th-minute substitute in the game against Reims in Ligue 1 on Sunday, making his debut in his new number 30 shirt for PSG.

After missing the first few games for PSG in order to get some training in, on Sunday, we finally saw Lionel Messi in his number 30 PSG shirt, playing on the field with his new team for the first time since his Barcelona exit. This was the first game he’s played since he won the Copa Americana for Argentina in July. PSG was already up 2-0 just before Messi came in as a substitute for Neymar. He received a standing ovation as he warmed up and an even bigger one once he came onto the field to play. This is the first club game Messi has played for a team other than Barcelona throughout his entire career. He joined Barcelona at the age of 13, scoring a record of 672 goals in 778 games for the team. He also holds the record for most Ballons d’Or won (six) and is considered one of the best soccer players of all time. Thus, his debut with PSG has been highly anticipated.

 Messi's influence on the game

Though Mbappé was the star of the game, Messi’s presence alone has a great influence on the team and the league. Before Messi joined PSG, the Stade Auguste-Delaune game had only sold about 6,000 tickets. Once Messi joined, that number skyrocketed with over 20,000 tickets sold, having been resold for about 6,000 euros. Though he didn’t play long on Sunday, he drew several fouls and had many solid passes. And though there were no shooting opportunities for the former Barcelona player, his impact is still felt amongst the team.

PSG head coach Mauricio Pochettino says that Messi has not yet reached his best, but has been training well and will be fully fit within the next two weeks. Even still, his presence brings a confidence to the team and the crowd’s reactions to him bring enthusiasm and motivation to the game. “As soon as he came on, he gave security to the team with his first few touches,” Pochettino said. “He felt calmer, and we are happy for the debut.”

“It’s clear with Messi that the motivation comes from within - that need for competition. His career, his energy, and his personality are contagious to the rest of the team.”