Lionel Messi opens up on PSG struggles, Champions League challenge
Lionel Messi has opened up on his struggles at Paris Saint-Germain in a candid and wide-ranging interview with Argentine media.
Messi, 34, endured a difficult debut season at the Parc des Princes, managing just six league goals for PSG over the course of the campaign.
The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner admits he struggled to adapt to his new life in France after initially expecting to remain with his boyhood club Barcelona.
In an interview with Argentinian broadcaster, TyC Sports, Messi said: “I had to get used to a way of playing because I was used to playing my whole life in one way and arriving at a place where it’s not the same, you play differently; you see football differently, with new teammates.
“In Barcelona I had teammates who had been playing alongside them for many years and they knew me by heart. This was all new for me.
“On top of that, I started the league late because I arrived late at the club, then I had a knock on my knee that stopped me for a while and between one thing and another it wouldn’t finish starting. I couldn’t play three or four games in a row.
“The holidays came and I said ‘well, after this I’ll start a new year, I’m going to arrive with all the batteries, I’m going to change, it’s over the adaptation’, and Covid caught me.”
Messi contracted the virus in early January and says he was left with respiratory issues long after the initial symptoms had cleared.
“It left me with after effects. It left me with after effects in my lungs. I came back and it was like a month and a half without even being able to run because my lungs were affected,” added Messi, who has joined up with the Argentina squad for Wednesday’s one-off ‘Finalissima’ match against Italy at Wembley.
Messi says that once he had finally recovered from the virus and was starting to regain his form, PSG were rocked by their Champions League defeat at the hands of eventual champions Real Madrid.
The Spanish club beat PSG 3-2 on aggregate in the round of 16 after Karim Benzema scored a stunning second-half hat-trick at the Bernabeu.
“When I was halfway there [towards being at my peak], the Real Madrid thing happened and that killed us,” said Messi.
“It killed me and the whole locker room in general and all of Paris because we had this big dream in that competition. And the way it happened, the game, the result … it was a gut punch.”
Messi, Neymar and head coach Mauricio Pochettino were all booed by PSG supporters in the wake of the defeat and the Argentina international admits it was an unfamiliar situation for him after years of being revered at the Nou Camp.
“It’s also new for me. It’s a different situation. It had never happened to me in Barcelona, quite the opposite,” he said.
“It’s understandable the situation of the people and the anger at the players we had, at the team we were and because a another year, because it is not the first time that a situation like this has happened to Paris, to be left out of the Champions League in that way, and the anger is understandable.
“Then if I agree or not about the whistles to me and to Ney in particular, that we were the most marked. But well, it happened.”
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