Sports Desk: On Sunday, as a substitute, Lionel Messi came on to make his Paris Saint-Germain debut, though Kylian Mbappe stole the show by scoring both goals in a 2-0 win against Reims in Ligue 1.
Wearing the number 30 jersey, Messi came off the bench in the 66th minute as a replacement for Neymar at the Stade Auguste-Delaune, where fans in the sell-out 21,000 crowds had earlier chanted his name as he emerged to warm up.
Since arriving in Paris from Barcelona, Messi has not played. His last appearance in any game dates back to the Copa America final on July 11, when he led his country to victory against Brazil.
He will have to wait for his first goal with his new club, and for his first start, which could come when PSG host Clermont in their next match on September 11.
PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino told broadcaster Amazon Prime, “I’m very happy that he made his debut. It was very important for him, “after Messi’s low-key first appearance in a PSG shirt.
“He is still far away from his best form, but he has been training well and he will be fit in the next two weeks, after the international break, and, yes, we are waiting for the best from him.”
This game has been dominated not by Messi but by talk of Mbappe’s future, with Real Madrid reportedly having two offers for the French World Cup-winning striker rejected.
The latest of these offers was understood to be worth 180 million euros ($212m), a large amount for a player whose contract expires at the end of the season and who will be free to negotiate a deal with a new club in January without PSG being able to get a transfer fee.
That amount is also equal to what PSG paid Monaco signing Mbappe, who was clearly eager to go out on a high if this was to be his final appearance for the club.
On Tuesday, with the transfer deadline appearing sooner, the 22-year-old did not appear remotely distracted by the talk of a move as he headed in a glorious Angel Di Maria cross in the 15th minute to put the away side in front.
Mbappe scored his second of the night, and third of the season, just after finishing off an inviting low cross to the back post by Achraf Hakimi.
Pochettino said of Mbappe, “Kylian is our player and you know that in football and in business there is always gossip and rumours.”
“I think our president and our sporting director were very clear and he is still here. I am really happy to have Kylian. He is one of the best, one of the most important players in the world today, and for him to be with us is a gift.