Lionel Messi's French Troubles: Why PSG Should Take the Blame for Argentine's Flop Show in Paris
15:18 GMT 04.03.2022 (Updated: 07:59 GMT 12.03.2022)
When Lionel Messi joined Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) in August last year, who would have imagined that the legendary footballer would only have two goals to his name in Ligue 1? Since arriving in France, the Argentine has failed to settle in both a new club and city, and is on course to register his worst numbers in more than a decade and a half.
Seven-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi
is known for stamping his dominance on a football pitch - a fact evidenced from his stunning record at his boyhood club Barcelona.
Not only did Messi register an unbelievable 672 goals in 778 games and bag a record 35 trophies for Barca, he was also their top scorer for 15 consecutive years.
However, Messi hasn't looked at ease in Paris and has largely played second fiddle to Kylian Mbappe, arguably the no. 1 player in Mauricio Pochettino
's squad, and has lacked the killer instinct which was incredibly visible during his time with the Blaugrana.
So, who's to be blamed for Messi's problems at PSG?
According to some former players, including Belgian international Thomas Meunier, who played for the French outfit from 2016-2020, PSG should take as much the blame as Messi himself for his share of struggles at the Parc des Princes.
It has often been said that PSG are not a club like Barcelona, Real Madrid, or even Manchester United, as these sides have a great history, tradition, culture and a loyal fan base which has been supporting them for decades.
Instead, the French giants are a team of superstars whose egos clash inside the dressing room and they are there at the club only to earn millions in salaries.
In nutshell, PSG are called a team built on the premise of money and not on the basis of love for the game.
"The PSG project has been about the bling bling since its creation, and it has to stay that way. It must make you dream more than anything else", Meunier told Goal.com last month.
While Pochettino has tried to bring professionalism into the squad, it is sporting director Leonardo Nascimento de Araujo who is the de facto decision maker at the club.
Despite being a former player himself, Leonardo focuses on personalities to keep the PSG brand going in the world of football.
The biggest example of this is the signing of Messi, who according to PSG's own admission has brought eight new sponsors to the club.
Another instance of this is Neymar's continuing underperformance, especially in the past two years, but because he remains one of the most marketable athletes on the planet, nobody in the PSG camp has criticised him - at least not in public.
Over the years, Leonardo's working style has baffled many, including former PSG man Jerome Rothen, who has called him their "central problem".
"Leonardo is PSG's central problem. To get players to leave, you need to have a network across all clubs and you need to have a relationship with the players who aren't playing", Rothen told French radio station RMC last month.
The Brazilian sports administrator has been accused of giving too much freedom to his players, as most PSG players enjoy their night life in the French capital and often turn up late for practice.
Messi has been spending his time at the club against this backdrop, something he could be finding difficult to adjust to - after all it is completely opposite to Barca's ethos.
In Catalonia - it is the identity and values that matter the most, while at PSG, money is the ultimate source of power.
Ex-Indian midfielder Mehtab Hossain also had the same view as Rothen and Meunier about Messi feeling alien in PSG's environment.
"I can understand Messi's unease at PSG because their culture is completely different from Barcelona", Hossain told Sputnik on Friday. "He has failed to get accustomed to his new life there, and it is playing with his mind", he concluded.