Lionel Messi's future has been lying away from Paris Saint-Germain for some time but it was only by . The 35-year-old FIFA World Cup winner signed off at Parc des Princes with a second Championnat crown but Messi and PSG's shared major objective of UEFA Champions League success was a disaster and there were no Coupe de France triumphs either.
In fact, the former Barcelona man's Ligue 1 count was 100% with two from a possible two, but that was negated by two straight UCL round of 16 exits which represented regression after runners-up and semifinal appearances as well as back-to-back Coupe de France eliminations. Messi, as we know, is now and goes to the U.S. as a world champion with Argentina, but his time with PSG -- -- did not suggest that he would be rolling back to years in Europe any further.
We look at the means reasons why Messi in Paris was every bit as difficult as his post-Barca career was expected to be.
1. World Cup win at PSG's expense
The big success of Messi's time with PSG actually came away from club duty and did significant damage to Les Parisiens' season -- although it did benefit the Qatari owners' World Cup. Argentina came out on top against France in the 2022 final and Messi finally got the international success that his legend has long coveted. When the next World Cup kicks off in 2026 and is joint-hosted by the U.S. it will be with Messi as one of the defending champions unless he retires from Albiceleste duty. Meanwhile, PSG are left picking up the pieces after Messi and Neymar's campaigns effectively ended upon return from Qatar which Galtier's men never recovered from.
2. Mauricio Pochettino and Christophe Galtier differences
Had Messi stayed with PSG for one more year, which initially seemed to be the plan post-World Cup, he would have had a third head coach in as many years considering that Galtier has since been dismissed. The fact that the Argentine played under both the French tactician and compatriot Mauricio Pochettino was hardly conducive to consistent soccer and given that it was also his first foray outside of Barca, it was perhaps inevitable that at least part of his time at Parc des Princes would be a struggle to adapt.
3. New culture
Not only was it tough on the field, it was tricky away from it, with French culture something that takes time for anybody to get used to. Everything from the climate to the food, language, people and press was totally new to Messi after years of bossing Barcelona. Suddenly, the man from Rosario was no longer the biggest fish in the pond and that was also a shock to the system for a player who was used to everything being about him. This, at least, will be less of a problem for Messi in Miami where the super star already owns a home.
4. Mbappe top dog
That was not the case in Paris, though, where Kylian Mbappe is the undisputed top dog as he emphasized again this past season with his top scoring showing in Ligue 1. PSG's project is constructed around Mbappe and even with Neymar also in the squad, there was little chance of him ever truly usurping the golden boy of French soccer in his own backyard and certainly not once Mbappe was persuaded to snub Real Madrid to stay on in Paris. Messi's Argentina beating Mbappe's France in the Qatar World Cup final made it a bit of an awkward dynamic which Neymar did not help after yet another disappointing campaign with Brazil. Messi might be followed out of Paris by Mbappe in a year or so and Neymar even sooner, but there is no doubting that the Frenchman was always PSG's bigger star.
5. Neymar in decline
Arguably another influential factor in Messi's disappointing spell was the failure to rekindle his previously telepathic understanding with Neymar from their Barca days together. There might have been flashes of brilliance across two relatively decent seasons numbers-wise with 31 goals and 34 assists across all competitions, but that was not all down to a fruitful reunion with the Brazilian superstar. Instead, Messi arguably paired better with Mbappe when it truly clicked and Neymar's continued injury problems made this an opportunity missed for both players despite how promising it looked in the build-up to the World Cup.