There was a party in Paris. But it was not in honor of Lionel Messi, the best player in history who gave PSG two seasons of his football, in which he played 75 games and made 32 goals and gave 35 assists. In the city of love, the Argentine only received affection when he arrived, that August 10, 2021 in which a crowd escorted him through the streets of the French capital.
But that passion lasted as long as a summer love, because on March 22 last year he was whistled for the first time after the elimination with Real Madrid in the Champions League. And yesterday the celebration prepared for after the match with Clermont, which gave the Ligue 1 champion a historic defeat, had as a tribute the conquest of the eleventh local tournament and also the support to Sergio Rico, the goalkeeper who fights for his life in Seville.
But for Leo, on the other hand, there was indifference from the leadership and some boos from the fans inside the field especially when he missed a goal of those who do not usually miss. In any case, he was saved from the awkward moment of shouting a goal in front of fans who no longer want it.
The smile was drawn on Messi's face, yes, when he stepped on the grass of the Parc des Princes for the last time. From the hand of Ciro (he wore a cast on his arm, the reason is unknown) and Mateo, his youngest sons, and with Thiago, the eldest, as a bodyguard, he smiled as he had not done in Paris for a long time, where a portion of fans pointed him out as the intimate enemy of the club for not taking it to the conquest of the Orejona, That obsession of the Parisians that in the two seasons in which the Argentine was played great group stages but was eliminated in the first Mata-Mata.
Two hours earlier, through social networks, PSG had thanked the "seven-time Ballon d'Or" for the two Ligue 1 titles and the Trophée des Champions and had stressed that with his Leo shirt "he wrote his name again in the history books by scoring his 496th goal in the five main leagues of Europe, thus setting another incredible record." But it was all on paper (or on a website, if you want to be precise).
Messi with his children and the novelty: Ciro wore a cast on his arm. Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP.
The first boos towards the Argentine appeared for a deflected shot at 30 minutes of a first half that the local won 2-0 by the header of Sergio Ramos – who arrived as Messi, free and in the same market of passes, and confirmed his disengagement this week – and the penalty of the French star (and only questioned when he threatened to go to the Merengue) Kylian Mbappé.
While PSG suffered the mismatches of its last line and the inaccuracies of its defenders, which led to the draw of Clermont by the goals of Johan Gastien and Mehdi Zeffane and a penalty (badly sanctioned) missed by Grejohn Kiey, the magnifying glass was on the world champion with the Argentine National Team in Qatar.
The Parc des Princes erupted against him at 8 minutes of the second half, when Mbappé served the goal after breaking off on the left but in his attempt to place it up at the first post he sent it over the crossbar.
On the other hand, it did not arouse the same anger that Kiey slipped between the backs of Sergio Ramos and El Chadaille Bitshiabu to give Clermont the first victory in its history against PSG.
Those handful of fans who put on the shirt with the number 30 on the back to attend Messi's last function in Paris prayed to unknown saints in the last play of the game, when their idol stood in front of the ball for another free kick opportunity. From a difficult position that demanded precision and power, the Rosario managed to give his shot the first quality but not the second, which helped goalkeeper Mory Diaw take the ball off the angle. There culminated the illusion of a cinematic end of the adventure -full of stones- of Leo in Paris.
Just half an hour after the final whistle, the smile on Messi's face returned when he was reunited in the tunnel with Neymar, the friend who received him 22 months ago but with whom he could play little because of the Brazilian's recurring injuries. The cameras focused on him while chatting with Christophe Galtier, the coach who in the last press conference acknowledged that he had had the "privilege of directing the best player in the history of football" and who also has the hours counted in Paris.
Paris Saint Germain, champion. Messi did not even bother to appear in the photo and was covered behind his teammates at PSG. Photo: EFE/EPA/CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON.
Not even in the photo of the "Champions of France 2023" that was taken after the light and fireworks show was Messi in a prominent place; on the contrary, in the image that went around the world his silhouette is barely distinguishable behind Marquinhos and the Ligue 1 trophy.
Of course, in the dressing room Messi smiled when Mbappé threw him a compliment in the form of a video for his social networks: "Lionel Messi, seven golden balls, is here," threw the Frenchman, who will miss his assists.
Who was idol in Barcelona, said goodbye in Paris without shining or scoring in his farewell, in a season in which he also gave 16 goal passes and was crowned as the best in that area. In a future that remains uncertain, he deserves better luck.