Did Paris Saint-Germain's Lionel Messi Really Fail to Sparkle at Parc des Princes?

© FRANCK FIFEParis Saint-Germain's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi warms up ahead of the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and AS Monaco (ASM) at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, on 12 December 2021.
Paris Saint-Germain's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi warms up ahead of the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and AS Monaco (ASM) at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, on 12 December 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 18.05.2022
A lot has been written about Lionel Messi's lacklustre performance at Paris Saint-Germain (PSG). But are the talismanic forward's numbers in France really bad or has his brilliance been overshadowed by factors that are beyond his control? A close analysis reveals a different picture than has been seen so far.
With only six Ligue 1 goals to his name, and only a solitary game remaining in the present season, Lionel Messi has been seen in an avatar never seen before in his entire career.

At his boyhood club Barcelona, the Argentina star was a goal-scoring monster, having hit astronomical figures one season after another.

Such were his numbers at Catalonia that for 12 seasons in a row, the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner recorded at least 25 goals in La Liga.

Messi even touched the magical figure of 50 in the Spanish top-flight back in 2011-12, when he was at the peak of his goal-scoring prowess, having hit the net a world record 73 times in all competitions for the Blaugrana.

However, after his first stint away from Barca, he looks extremely unlikely to touch double digits ever again.

So why is a man, who used to make scoring a goal look like child's play, unable to maintain the lofty standards he set?

Many experts, including Brazil's 2002 World Cup winner Ronaldinho, believe Messi's shrinking goal numbers are in part because of his status in Mauricio Pochettino's side.

While at his formative club, Messi was "central" to their attack; however, at the Parc des Princes, he has more often than not, found himself playing second fiddle to Kylian Mbappe.

As Messi is not at the forefront of the French outfit, he has had to adapt to a new role where he is more of a "playmaker" and not the attacker-in-chief.

As the 34-year-old footballer's role has been drastically curtailed from a man who used to lead on the field to a supporting member of the cast, Messi's once remarkable strike rate has taken a significant hit.

Another factor that has played a role in Messi's unimpressive tally of goals has been luck.
Unfortunately, he has hit the woodwork at least 10 times this season - more than any other player ever struck in a single campaign in Europe's top five leagues.

Although his critics have slammed him for the numbers of goals he's scored, Messi's supporters have pooh-poohed suggestions that the iconic player is on the decline.

The Argentine's admirers have pointed out that Messi has contributed heavily to PSG's Ligue 1 winning campaign this term, having provided 13 assists to his teammates, notably a number of them to Mbappe who is set to finish as the league's top scorer in 2021-22.

Though PSG failed to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League, and Messi was blamed for their being ousted in the Round of 16, it was he who came up with five goals in seven appearances for the club in the continental competition.

Yet he was panned by his detractors for not delivering on the grand stage against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Despite the criticism, however, Messi has found support from unexpected quarters. The likes of French footballer Karim Benzema have said that those who pour contempt on the PSG frontman are simply people who know nothing about football.

Former India captain, Renedy Singh, was also sympathetic.

"Messi is still adapting to his present role in Paris as he's not the main man at the club. That position belongs to Mbappe right now but things could change drastically next season when the French star will not be a part of PSG's line-up," Singh told Sputnik.

"If you want Messi to score an abundance of goals then you should give him a free hand, play him in his preferred position and then see the results for yourself," he concluded.
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