Focus: Lionel Messi the maestro – LFP

Messi’s mesmerising dancing feet were back to their best when he set up Kylian Mbappé for the France’s prodigy’s and PSG’s second – the Argentine’s second assist of the evening.

Mbappé: ‘We’re having great fun!’
“It’s easy to play with him,” beamed Mbappé after the match. “He’s a top player. I’ve always wanted to play with guys like him, as every top player does! We’re having great fun on the pitch and I’m really enjoying learning from him!”

Messi looked mobile and inspired against Saint-Etienne. Only two players saw more of the ball than him, a change from his early weeks in France. The diminutive genius completed 100% of his passes in the final third, helping PSG break through the opposition line
Pochettino: ‘Beat any man on the pitch’
“I’m happy with his contribution,” said PSG boss and compatriot Mauricio Pochettino. “His performances are getting better. If the team plays well, it’s also thanks to his vision of the game, his ability to beat any man on the pitch and especially his influence on our style of play!”

The 34-year-old now sits joint top of the assists charts in Ligue 1 Uber Eats, having set up ten goals since late November. No player in Europe can match Messi’s six assists in 2022, a total he has amassed in his last five league outings.

Mbappé: ‘Adapt to a new life’
The first few months in Ligue 1 were rocky to say the least. Messi struggled to find space against France’s well-drilled defences. But, like all the best players, he has adapted his game. His turn of pace may not be as destructive as it once was, but his vision remains outstanding, so playing in a deeper role, providing ammunition for his attacking colleagues is proving to be a fruitful adjustment!

“I’m happy for him because we know he has had to adapt to a new life, a new town and a new club,” said Mbappé. “Even when you’ve won seven Ballons d’Or you still have to adapt. That’s just life! He’s getting better and better, he’s happy and, as I’ve been saying for a while, be it in the past or now, if we have Messi playing well, it can only be good for us.”

Of course it remains something of a surprise to see that Messi has only scored twice in Ligue 1 Uber Eats this season, even if both were perfectly taken finishes…

But, while he is not an ever-present on the scoresheet anymore, his influence on and reading of the game appear to be returning to the levels that elevated the Argentine to be regarded as one of the greatest in the history of the game.

“Leo Messi is the best player in the world!” declared Pochettino. “A player like him, with his experience… what he represents. He simply is football!”

>> Assists: Messi joins Mbappé at the top!
>> Round 26 review: PSG march on, relegation battle hots up
Assists: Messi joins Mbappé at the top!
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Goal Danilo Luis Helio PEREIRA (52' – PSG) / PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN – AS SAINT-ÉTIENNE (3-1) / 21/22
Mbappé: 'It's easy to play with Messi'
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FC NANTES – PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN (3-1) / Highlights (FCN – PSG) 2021/2022
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