Paris Saint-Germain have brought the curtain up on the Lionel Messi era in the French capital, unveiling their new signing in front of the Parc des Princes crowd for the first time.
Messi, who signed a two year contract with PSG on Tuesday, was one of five new additions to Mauricio Pochettino's squad who were paraded on the pitch ahead of kick off in the Ligue 1 match with Strasbourg, one for which the former Barcelona playmaker was not deemed to be ready yet. Joining him in the prematch presentation were three more marquee free transfers -- Sergio Ramos, Gianluigi Donnarumma and Georginio Wijnaldum -- as well as former Inter Milan defender Achraf Hakimi.
Only Wijnaldum and Hakimi were named in Mauricio Pochettino's side for PSG's first home league game of the season. Messi's first training session with his new teammates only came on Thursday following a month in which he was officially a free agent, unable to secure the new deal with Barcelona that ultimately collapsed with the Catalan giants unable to get under La Liga's salary cap.
Donnarumma is another still working on his match fitness whilst former Real Madrid captain Ramos is sidelined with the calf issues that he suffered last season. In his absence Presnel Kimpembe and Thilo Kehrer start in defense for PSG, who are aiming to follow on from their opening weekend win over Troyes, where Hakimi and Mauro Icardi scored. The latter finds himself in the attack alongside Kylian Mbappe and Julian Draxler. Neymar has been left out of the squad. In the absence of so many star names 20 year old academy graduate Eric Junior Dina Ebimbe also starts for PSG.
Earlier this week, Pochettino said of Messi's potential debut: "We will take it step by step, get to know each other and have him feel fit and comfortable so that he is able to make his debut when he is fully fit. The priority is that he is OK, feels good, and when he is in the best condition, he can play. I want to have the best players, like any coach. Everyone knows that Messi is one of the best in the world."
PSG's next two games take them to Brest and Reims. Their next game hope game is scheduled to take place against Clermont on September 12.
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