As PSG gears up for the Champions League clash against Newcastle, an air of diligence and tranquility permeates the team. The departures of Neymar and Lionel Messi have cleansed the atmosphere.
In the football world, which club would genuinely rejoice at bidding farewell, in the same transfer window, to Neymar and Lionel Messi, two global football icons? Look no further; it’s none other than Paris Saint-Germain. After succumbing to the allure of glamour, Nasser Al-Khelaifi realized in 2023 that assembling the most prestigious names doesn’t guarantee a formidable team. The departure of the Brazilian to Saudi Arabia and the Argentine World Cup winner heading to Inter Miami didn’t bring tears to the eyes of PSG supporters. Despite the financial toll on merchandising, the departure of Neymar and Messi is a relief in Luis Enrique’s locker room. The realization that the Parisian coaches and players were under significant pressure due to the presence of the two South American divas eventually surfaced.
Lionel Messi’s Unyielding Presence in 2023
On the eve of the crucial match against Newcastle at Parc des Princes, Paris Saint-Germain is thriving. One significant factor is Luis Enrique’s ability to rotate his squad without fearing a chaotic reaction. The Spanish coach, not one to let others dictate his choices, utilizes his entire bench, fostering a more serene atmosphere. This was not the case during the two years of Neymar-Messi duo, as highlighted by a journalist from Le Parisien. “The eight-time Ballon d’Or winner was never substituted during a game with Paris in 2023. While the departures of the two South Americans provide more flexibility to the coach, they also freed the rest of the group, fostering greater unity and symbiosis. Some substitutes did not always cope well with the daily cohabitation or matches with the Argentine and the Brazilian, which could manifest on the field and be evident in certain behaviors,” explains Adrien Chantegrelet. It is true that the privileged relationship between Lionel Messi and Neymar sometimes marginalized certain players, notably Achraf Hakimi, who was clearly boycotted by the duo.
Now liberated from the two stars, PSG breathes easier, although it remains to be confirmed in the Champions League. Despite Nasser Al-Khelaifi’s change of heart on how his club should operate, the Qatari president does not want to see Paris fall to the Magpies, especially as he returns to Parc des Princes on Tuesday after knee surgery. Kylian Mbappé now holds the keys to Paris Saint-Germain, and he must embrace this responsibility, with Neymar and Lionel Messi no longer there to disrupt the life of the capital’s club.”