Lionel Messi welcomed back to PSG after manager plays down hostile return fears

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Lionel Messi is back in training with Paris Saint-Germain (Image: PSG via Getty Images)
Lionel Messi is back in training with Paris Saint-Germain (Image: PSG via Getty Images)

Lionel Messi has been given a hero’s welcome on his return to Paris Saint-Germain following his exploits at the World Cup.

Messi was the star for Argentina in Qatar, scoring seven goals and registering three assists to help them claim their third title. The 35-year-old scored twice in the exhilarating final against France, which finished 3-3 after extra-time, before also netting in the 4-2 win on penalties.

There were concerns that Messi would not be fondly welcomed back to his club side, considering his prominent role in ending France’s hopes of winning back-to-back World Cups. After being allowed an extended period of leave to celebrate in Argentina, Messi returned to Paris at the start of January.

PSG face an extremely low-key first game back for Messi, with a trip to face third-tier side Chateauroux in the French Cup on the schedule this Friday. His first chance to play in front of a big crowd at the Parc des Princes comes against Angers in Ligue 1 next Wednesday.

His potential return to action may be underwhelming, but PSG certainly pulled out all the stops for Messi’s return to training. A video posted by the club on Twitter shows the playmaker being given a guard of honour by his teammates, coaching personnel and training centre staff.

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After being applauded onto the pitch, Messi was presented with a trophy to recognise his achievement. The joyous mood backs up comments by manager Christophe Galtier, who allayed any fears of a hostile reception from French fans for the PSG star.

Lionel Messi welcomed back to PSG after manager plays down hostile return fearsLionel Messi was given a guard of honour by PSG (@PSG_inside/Twitter)
Lionel Messi welcomed back to PSG after manager plays down hostile return fearsThe Argentina captain was presented with a trophy (@PSG_inside/Twitter)

HAVE YOUR SAY! What will the reception be like in Lionel Messi's first game back for PSG? Comment below.

“Obviously, he will be well received at home,” Galtier said of Messi earlier this week. "On the reception at the stadium, I have no doubt that he will be well received at Parc des Princes.

“He won the most beautiful of trophies by being very good in this World Cup. Above all, now that he has achieved this incredible goal, we must remember what he has done since the start of the season with the team.”

Messi has been in sparkling form for PSG this season, contributing 12 goals and 14 assists in 19 appearances across all competitions. His return comes at a good time for PSG, who suffered defeat for the first time since March on New Year’s Day.

With Messi still on holiday, they slipped to a 3-1 loss to Lens, who moved to just four points behind the French giants in the Ligue 1 standings. Messi was given a two-week break by PSG, which came as a stark contrast to Kylian Mbappe, who was straight back into training following France’s defeat in Qatar but has since been handed a break.

Felix Keith

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