Lionel Messi has scored his first goal as a Paris Saint-Germain player in their Champions League group-stage match against Manchester City on Tuesday night, and several English pundits hailed the former Barcelona captain afterwards.
Gary Lineker was one of the journalists to praise Messi, as he pointed the Argentine’s critics towards his impressive record in games against Premier League sides.
“Lionel Messi has scored his 27th goal against a Premier League opponent in 35 matches,” said Lineker.
“All of them in the Champions League and against the Big Six. And they said he couldn’t play here.”
Messi expressed his joy after netting his first PSG goal and stressed that he will gel with Kylian Mbappe and Neymar in attack soon.
“I wanted to score my first goal,” Messi told Canal+.
“I am getting used to the team. The more the three of us play together, the better our relationship will be.”
In fact, Mbappe was the player who teed up Messi to score PSG’s second goal against the Sky Blues, just an hour before Neymar uploaded a picture of the attacking trident on social media.
“It is the first time Messi has changed clubs,” noted Mauricio Pochettino after the game.
“He feels different things, new emotions…”
Messi was linked with a move to Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City last summer, when several critics questioned whether the Argentine would be able to adapt to the physical demands of the Premier League.
“Lionel Messi can’t be contained for 90 minutes,” stressed Guardiola.
“He has just overcome an injury and lacks a bit of rhythm, but when he has the ball he is unstoppable.”
Messi has now scored seven goals in five games against his former coach, Guardiola, with Manchester City being his second-favourite Premier League victim behind Arsenal (nine goals).
“He always appears on the big occasions and against Guardiola,” said former England player Owen Hargreaves.
“He’s one of the greatest.”
Meanwhile, Rio Ferdinand claimed that even superstars such as Messi need time to adapt to their new teams.
“Messi being the superstar he is, with him and Cristiano [Ronaldo] taking the game to new levels in this time, even today at times he was on the periphery of the game,” Ferdinand said on BT Sport.
“He wasn’t integral to everything that was going on like at Barcelona, because he’s at a new club and feeling his way into it.
“Even superstars have to do that. Then you see the celebration, that’s relief. He’s not as animated normally.”