Ex-PSG and Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka has warned his former club that it will be “very difficult to recover” from substituting Lionel Messi on his home debut, accusing the French giants of “playing with his head a lot.”
PSG manager Mauricio Pochettino hooked Messi on his home debut for the club against Lyon, appearing to receive an upset response from the Argentina captain on the touchline after replacing him after 76 minutes.
The Ligue 1 leaders scored the winner in a 2-1 victory after Messi made way, and the former Arsenal and France forward, who was once dubbed ‘Le Sulk’, claims the most high-profile signing in their history will not forget the incident.
“You don’t take off a six-time Ballon d’Or winner at the 65th minute [sic], when he hasn’t scored for his team. That plays with his head a lot,” said Anelka, who won the Premier League with the Blues and Arsenal and the Champions League with Real Madrid.
The look Messi gave Pochettino when he was taken off in the 76th minute pic.twitter.com/GfuGCONo41
— Goal (@goal) September 19, 2021
“A forward needs his coach to show him confidence, and that right there won’t do it.
“I’m getting ahead of myself but Messi will not forget what Pochettino has done. It will stay with him.
“He’s the star of the team and it was his first game at the Parc des Princes. It’s going to be very difficult to recover from that as a situation.
Some speculation Messi was injured on international duty and he’s been playing through it since
Consequently, hard to put a timeline. I want to say it should be quick but if he still has pain + repeat scan in 48hrs shows bone edema still present then he won’t play this weekend https://t.co/1m9zlku7qE
— Dr. Harjas Grewal (@Harjas_Grewal) September 21, 2021
Lmao so Messi was actually injured? Twitter football experts wanted Pochettino's head cos he did the right thing
— Zlatan's burner (@manlikefola_) September 21, 2021
“Messi didn’t play [in PSG’s subsequent away game] against Metz and, for me, that’s already a response.
“You can’t manage Messi like that. The coach wanted to send out a strong message, which is good – but this is Messi.”
Pochettino denied there had been a dispute with Messi despite cameras appearing to catch the former Barcelona talisman looking mystified by the move as he came off.
In the end Messi was injured and his team scored a winner. So ??? https://t.co/IiEsQX3qzF
— ChaMaReL (@SaCHa_Sams) September 21, 2021
Messi as a second fiddle to Mbappe?
— Goal Asia (@Goal_Asia_) September 28, 2021
Many have pointed to Messi’s subsequent absence from PSG’s last two matchday squads – beating Metz and Montpellier without his influence – as proof that he was carrying a knock which could have occurred while he was on international duty with Argentina.
Vigilant Pochettino may have been acting as a precaution to prevent further damage to arguably the most important player in his star-studded squad, with Mauro Icardi’s 93rd-minute winner meaning no harm was done on the night.
Anelka wasn’t done there with his hot takes. While France wonderkid Kylian Mbappe is clearly on edge after being caught on camera at the weekend appearing to call Neymar a “vagabond” and accusing the Brazilian of not passing enough, Anelka insists that Messi, who is being tipped for a return to action when PSG host Manchester City in the Champions League on Tuesday, must supply the World Cup winner in their vaunted strikeforce.
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“Mbappe has to lead the attack because he’s No.1,” Anelka said. “Messi was at Barcelona but now he has to serve Mbappe. He’s been at the club for five years and Messi has to respect him.”
Now working as a pundit in his homeland, Anelka revealed that he plans to move into coaching and would prefer to live in Asia or the Gulf.
“I’ll take after my former coaches,” he ambitiously predicted. “Carlo Ancelotti for his man-management, Antonio Conte for his tactics and repeating moves, Arsene Wenger for his counter-attacking and, most of all, Sam Allardyce for his ability to get the best out of each player.”
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