Lionel Messi made his Paris Saint-Germain debut as a 66th-minute substitute in a 2-0 Ligue 1 win against Reims as he received a standing ovation as he replaced his friend Neymar in front of a sell-out crowd while wearing his new number 30 PSG shirt.
It was his first club game for a team other than Barcelona.
“He is still far away from his best form but he has been training well and he will be fit in the next two weeks,” boss Mauricio Pochettino told Amazon while adding that “We are waiting for the best from him. I’m very happy that he made his debut. It was very important for him.
“He was good, from his first touches he gave the team peace of mind. It’s good for him to start with a win. It was good to hear the crowd cheering for him, not just our supporters, it’s something Leo has earned.”
Kylian Mbappe scored both goals in what could be his final game for the club, with Real Madrid keen to sign him before the transfer deadline on Tuesday.
Real Madrid has made a bid of 160 million euros (£137 million) for the 22-year-old, who has now scored 135 goals in 175 games for PSG.
His first goal came from a header from an Angel di Maria cross, and his second came from a cross from Achraf Hakimi.
“Kylian is our player and you know that in football and in business there is always gossip and rumors,” Pochettino said.
“I think our president and our sporting director were very clear and he is still here. I am really happy to have Kylian. He is one of the best, one of the most important players in the world today, and for him to be with us is a gift.”
But the focus will be on Messi, the 34-year-old who came on shortly after the second goal. After Reims sold over 20,000 tickets for the Stade Auguste-Delaune match, tickets for the game were resold for around 6,000 euros. Only about 6,000 had been sold prior to Messi’s signing.
Their buyers may have been disappointed to see Messi named only on the bench, despite the fact that he received a standing ovation as he warmed up, with fans chanting his name, and an even bigger one when he came on.
He made some nice passes and was involved in some good link-up play, resulting in a few fouls. However, he only had a few touches in the penalty area and no chances to shoot. “He brings serenity to the team. His energy and his optimism trickle down on the rest of the team,” said Pochettino.
Messi had missed the first few games for PSG since joining on a free transfer from Barcelona. This was his first game since Argentina won the Copa America in July.
He joined Barcelona at the age of 13 and scored a club record 672 goals in 778 games. He has six Ballons d’Or, a record, and is regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time.