A sign of things to come? Messi takes back seat to Neymar in Mbappe’s PSG return

The Ligue 1 giants racked up five goals, but Messi was not directly involved in a single one

Paris Saint-Germain’s win over Montpellier on Saturday may well have acted as a snapshot of things to come for the club’s star-studded frontline over the course of the season ahead.

The French champions were back in action a short time ago.

Fresh off a scintillating opening to the campaign, culminating in nine goals scored across a pair of fixtures, PSG welcomed the aforementioned Montpellier to the Parc des Princes, eyeing a similarly one-sided result.

And, when all was said and done, this is precisely what the capital giants went on to pick up.

A dominant display ultimately culminated in PSG emerging on the right side of a 5-2 scoreline, to take an early lead atop the Ligue 1 table.

The undisputed star of the show on the night came in the form of Neymar, who, fresh off a goal and three assists in his last appearance, was only denied a late hat-trick by VAR.

Elsewhere, Falaye Sacko’s own goal late in the first-half was added to by further strikes on the part of summer arrival Renato Sanches, and the returning Kylian Mbappe.

This of course means that Lionel Messi failed to get in on the action by means of either a goal, or even solitary assist.

And it is perhaps worth taking note of the significance of as much.

Messi, of course, had enjoyed a fine start to the season, notching two goals and two assists across his first two appearances.

This comes fresh off the Argentine icon missing out on a spot on the 30-man Ballon d’Or shortlist for the first time since 2005, after being regularly singled out for criticism owing to his haul of just six league goals in 2021/22.

But PSG’s setup tonight hinted that Messi’s production in front of goal could well remain short of its usually eye-watering standards over the course of the season ahead, too.

In contrast to the Parisians’ first two fixtures of the term, on Saturday, Kylian Mbappe was back in from the off.

The Frenchman’s inclusion, in turn, saw Messi take on a deeper, more playmaking-style role, allowing Neymar and Mbappe to flourish in front of him.

Should such a trend, as expected, continue, then Messi’s loyal following may well be forced to face up to another season of their favourite player’s contributions going somewhat under the radar, as the 35-year-old puts team in front of self in search of glory both domestically and on the continent.

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Conor Laird

Conor Laird

Die-hard Juventus fan with a love for all things Italian, and a real soft spot for Arsenal cult heroes. Emmanuel Eboue, Nicklas Bendtner, Philippe Senderos... Give them all statues outside the Emirates.

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