The World Cup is over and league games have resumed, but World Cup winner Lionel Messi has not yet returned to practice with Paris Saint-Germain.
Mbappé and Hakimi back in action
PSG coach Christophe Galtier said that Messi will not play against Strasbourg or Lens. He will remain in Argentina after winning the World Cup and will return to PSG at the beginning of January.
Messi headed to Argentina to celebrate with his country after winning the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Galtier gave him an extended break before he returns to play in Ligue 1.
Fellow PSG players Kylian Mbappé and Achraf Hakimi also played a big role in the World Cup. Hakimi made more tackles (26) for Morocco than anyone else in the tournament, helping the Atlas Lions claim Africa’s first-ever semifinal berth. Mbappé scored more goals (8), completed more dribbles (25), and had more touches in the opposition’s box (69) for France than any other player in the World Cup.
Mbappé and Hakimi have already returned to practice with PSG and will play against Strasbourg on Wednesday. Galtier said they were anxious to return immediately.
“As for Leo Messi, who had a brilliant tournament, given they won the competition, he went back to Argentina for the celebrations,” said Galtier. “We made the decision to give him until January 1, so he will be back here with us on the second or third to get back into the swing of things after 13 or 14 days off.”
Messi scored seven goals at the World Cup and won the Golden Ball. He became the first player to score in the group stage, round of 16, quarterfinal, semifinal, and final in a single World Cup. Messi has reportedly agreed to a contract extension with PSG and will hope to complete the deal when he returns to Paris.
Drama between Messi and Mbappé?
Argentina’s goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez mocked Kylian Mbappé during the celebrations after Argentina won the World Cup. However, Galtier insists this is not causing any problems between he and PSG teammate Messi, as it was Martinez, not Messi, who started the drama.
“What happened in the celebrations belongs to the Argentinians, and it is not down to me,” said Galtier. “What matters to me is what I saw in the final and on the sidelines. I saw Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi hug.”
“There is a lot of respect between them. They have an exemplary attitude after the games,” he continued. “So I would focus on the relationship between them. It wasn’t Leo Messi winding anybody else up. What I saw after the final, what I have experienced, is there is no reason to mix these things up because the goalkeeper’s behavior is down to him.”
“What matters to me is the relationship between the players. Kylian Mbappe had a very good attitude, despite losing. Of course he was very disappointed, but he did that in a classy way. He congratulated Leo Messi and that is a very good thing for the club and for the team.”