Lionel Messi looks back to his best after starring in Paris Saint-Germain’s 6-2 thrashing of Gamba Osaka.
The Ligue One champions played the final fixture of their pre-season tour in Japan ahead of the Trophee des Champions clash with Nantes, and it was a high-scoring affair at the Suita City Stadium.
Neymar found the net twice, including producing the worst dive of his career for a penalty – while Kylian Mbappe also struck from 12 yards late on.
Pablo Sarabia and Nuno Mendes both bagged and so too did Messi, who also registered an assist when he set up Neymar’s second with a perfectly-weighted through-ball.
Even if it was a friendly against significantly inferior opposition, the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner was really in the mood.
He was effortlessly brilliant with the ball at his feet, his dribbling so slick that opposition defenders could only stop him by fouling.
Messi combined brilliantly with Neymar for his goal in what was a throwback to the type of goal he scored during his days at Barcelona and then the assist was a trademark defence-splitting pass.
The 35-year-old notched 11 goals and 15 assists in all competitions for PSG last term but after niggling injuries and COVID-19 struggles, the general consensus is that Messi’s first campaign was underwhelming.
But after having the time to bed in, PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi believes fans will see “the best version of Messi ever” next term.
“There is no doubt that Lionel Messi has won the Ballon d’Or a record seven times, and it was not his best season,” he told Le Parisien.
“But after more than 20 years in Barcelona, he discovered a new country, a new city, a new league, a new team. A new culture. As well as his family, and he was injured also by the coronavirus.
“It was not easy for Messi last season, but next season we will see the best version of Messi ever.”
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