Lionel Messi will have to bide his time before taking the field for the first time for new club Paris Saint-Germain. What’s for sure is that his PSG debut will not come in Saturday’s home match against Strasbourg.
Messi’s signing was officially announced on Tuesday and, following his presentation the following day, he only participated in his first training session on Thursday. Given his last competitive game came back on July 10, he’s got some work to do in order to reach full fitness. His coach indicated as much on Friday:
“It’s his second day of training after a month since he played the last game, the final of the Copa America,” Mauricio Pochettino said in his pregame news conference. “So we’re going to go step by step, getting to know each other. The priority is that he’s good, that he’s feeling good and when he’s in the best condition he can debut.
“He’s coming off a month since the last time he competed,” he added. “We have to listen to him, but also based on our experience. And of course our decision will come from the feeling we have based on the next training sessions, and then we’ll make a decision.”
If Messi is going to make his PSG bow before the September international break for World Cup qualifiers, it will have to come on the road on Friday, Aug. 20 or Sunday, Aug. 29.
|Date||Competition||Match||Time (ET)||TV channels||Stream|
|Sunday, Aug. 1||Trophee des Champions||Lille 1, PSG 0|
|Saturday, Aug. 7||Ligue 1, Matchday 1||Troyes 1, PSG 2|
|Saturday, Aug. 14||Ligue 1, Matchday 2||PSG vs. Strasbourg||3 p.m.||beIN Sports||beIN Connect|
|Friday, Aug. 20||Ligue 1, Matchday 3||Brest vs. PSG||TBD||beIN Sports||beIN Connect|
|Sunday, Aug. 29||Ligue 1, Matchday 4||Stade de Reims vs. PSG||TBD||beIN Sports||beIN Connect|
Messi presented to PSG fans
Although he wasn’t in the squad to play against Strasboug, Messi was presented to the home fans alongside the summer’s other new arrivals.
“It was a very special week for me,” he said when handed the mic. “I want to thank all the fans for the welcome when I arrived in Paris. It was incredible. I feel happy and I’m excited. I’m so happy to be here and happy for this new phase in my career that I’ll be experiencing. And I hope together we can enjoy this season and that it’s a great year for us. That’s what I’m feeling. I’m really excited by all this.”
PSG players vs. Strasbourg
Messi’s exclusion from the squad to face Strasbourg was expected, and several other players will also miss the club’s second league match. Brazilian superstar Neymar is among those sitting out as he continues his training regimen since returning from vacation following the Copa America. If PSG is going to make it two wins in a row to start the Ligue 1 season, it will have to do so without its two biggest names.
Here’s the full 22-man squad available to Pochettino:
- Goalkeepers (3): Sergio Navas, Sergio Rico, Denis Franchi
- Defenders (5): Achraf Hakimi, Presnel Kimpembe, Abdou Diallo, Thilo Kehrer, El Chadaille Bitshiabu
- Midfielders (10): Nathan Bitumazala, Rafinha, Danilo Pereira, Georginio Wijnaldum, Ander Herrera, Julian Draxler, Xavi Simons, Ismael Gharbi, Edouard Michut, Junior Dina Ebimbe
- Forwards (4): Mauro Icardi, Kylian Mbappe, Arnaud Kalimuendo, Pablo Sarabia
New signings Gigi Donnarumma and defender Sergio Ramos will also miss the match, although Ramos’s absence was also pre-announced due to a calf injury. The Spanish center back is not expected back until September.
As with Neymar, regulars Marco Verratti, Angel Di Maria, Leandro Paredes and Marquinhos are also sitting out as they make their way back to full fitness following their participation in the summer international competitions. This group also sat out the Ligue 1-opening win at Troyes and the Trophee des Champions loss to Lille, the only two competitive matches played thus far in PSG’s new season.