Messi has to serve Mbappe at PSG – Anelka

By Sports Desk September 28, 2021

Lionel Messi cannot consider himself the number one player at Paris Saint-Germain and "must serve" Kylian Mbappe, according to Nicolas Anelka.

Six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi joined PSG on a free transfer in August after Barcelona were unable to fulfil a new contract that had been agreed with the Argentina international.

Messi has yet to score or assist in his first three appearances for the Ligue 1 giants and has missed their past two matches with a knee injury.

The 34-year-old is sharing the spotlight with fellow superstar forwards Neymar and Mbappe at the Parc des Princes, the latter of whom is into his fifth season with the club.

Messi and Mbappe have spent a combined 160 minutes on the field together this term and have passed the ball to one another just 18 times.

By comparison, Messi and Neymar linked up on 23 occasions in PSG's recent 2-1 win over Lyon alone.

While Messi was the main man during the majority of his time at Barca, former PSG forward Anelka insists the French club must build their team around Mbappe.

"Mbappe has to lead the attack because he's number one," Anelka told Le Parisien.

"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."

 

Mbappe has four goals and four assists in nine games for PSG in all competitions this term, those eight direct goal involvements bettered by only six players across Europe's top five leagues.

The France international has been strongly linked with a move to Real Madrid after entering the final year of his contract, and Anelka can understand why his compatriot would want to join a new club.

"He's a phenomenal player in terms of his speed – there's no one better on the planet," Anelka said. "If Paris want to have the best team, they have to do everything they can to keep him.

"But I think it's very clear in Kylian's head. He wants to see something else, and that makes sense. He's dreaming of the Ballon d'Or, and how can he win it if he's playing in the sixth-best league [now fifth-best] by UEFA coefficient?

"If Kylian had been in England or Spain for the last three years, he would have already won the Ballon d'Or."

Mbappe is expected to start PSG's Champions League clash against Manchester City on Tuesday, while Messi is also in line to face off against former coach Pep Guardiola after recovering from a knee issue.

Messi was substituted by Mauricio Pochettino in his most recent appearance for PSG, and Anelka fears the pair may now struggle to repair their relationship.

"You don't take off a six-time Ballon d'Or winner in the 65th minute, when he hasn't scored for his team. That plays with his head a lot," he said.

"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.

"Messi didn't play 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."

Related items

  • Frenkie de Jong and Pedri set for spells on sidelines with injuries Frenkie de Jong and Pedri set for spells on sidelines with injuries

    Barcelona have confirmed that Frenkie de Jong and Pedri are both “unavailable for selection” due to injury.

    Both players picked up injuries in the first half of Barca’s goalless draw with Athletic Bilbao on Sunday night, which leaves the side third in LaLiga.

    De Jong went over on his ankle in the 26th minute and the club revealed that the Dutch midfielder has a “lateral ligament sprain”.

    Tests also showed that Pedri sustained an injury to the “rectus femoris muscle” in his right thigh after the Spanish midfielder went down with no one else involved towards the end of the first half.

    In a statement on Monday, Barcelona confirmed that both players’ “recovery will determine availability”.

    It was another frustrating evening for the Catalan club, who were unable to capitalise on second-placed Girona’s defeat to Mallorca and a draw for leaders Real Madrid against Valencia.

    The weekend’s results mean Barcelona are one point behind Girona and eight away from Real and manager Xavi admitted after the Bilbao game that his side were “unlucky” following the two first-half injuries.

    He told the Barca website post-match: “The two injuries in the first half certainly affected us. We are so unlucky.

    “Those are two very important players for our game plan. I imagine we’re going to miss them for several games.

    “The team was trying but we generated very little. We didn’t quite have our claws out and never really went for the game.”

  • Lawrence Shankland says Hearts form gives him ‘good opportunity’ to be at Euros Lawrence Shankland says Hearts form gives him ‘good opportunity’ to be at Euros

    Free-scoring Hearts forward Lawrence Shankland feels he is giving himself “a good opportunity” of going to this summer’s European Championships with Scotland.

    The Jambos captain netted his 27th goal of the season to secure a 2-0 home win over Celtic on Sunday, with national team manager Steve Clarke and his assistant John Carver watching on from the Tynecastle stand.

    Shankland was left out of the Scotland squad for the October double-header against Spain and France, and he was initially omitted for the most recent gathering in November before being given a belated call-up for the matches against Georgia and Norway after Che Adams withdrew.

    Shankland did his cause no harm by stepping off the bench to score a stoppage-time equaliser in the 2-2 draw away to Georgia.

    Since then, he has taken his club form to new heights by netting 22 goals in his last 23 appearances for Hearts, prompting many to suggest that he should not just be in the squad for Germany but deserves to be Scotland’s first-choice striker.

    Shankland was unaware that Clarke – preparing to name his squad for the upcoming friendlies against Netherlands and Northern Ireland – was there to see him score against Celtic on Sunday, but he said: “Hopefully I impressed and put on a good performance, and we got a victory as well.

    “All you can do is play for your club and play at the level you are playing at, do as well as you can.

    “At this moment in time I feel like I am doing pretty well. Leading the line for Hearts, scoring goals and being a leader as well. I am giving myself a good opportunity.”

    Shankland missed training in the days leading up to the Celtic game after struggling with a muscle strain. However, the forward is adamant the issue is nothing to worry about ahead of next Monday’s Scottish Cup quarter-final away to Morton.

    “There was obviously a bit of a chat back and forth between the sports scientists and me but thankfully they took my word that I was alright, and I was,” said Shankland.

    “I felt confident going into the game, it was just a wee niggle. I probably felt worse going into the Hibs game, if I’m honest.

    “I felt good (against Celtic) and I think that probably showed in my performance.

    “It’s good that we’ve got a chance to recover and a few days to tone down a bit before we start building up to the Morton game, so it (the midweek break) has probably come at a good time for me. But I’m all good.”

    Another Scotland squad man impressed in front of the watching Clarke, with goalkeeper Zander Clark blocking an early penalty from Adam Idah and then making some impressive second-half saves.

    Clark made his Scotland debut last autumn and is battling to hang on to his place at both club and international level, with 41-year-old Hearts and Scotland keeper Craig Gordon having returned to contention in December following a year out with a double leg-break.

    “I think Zander’s been brilliant from the minute he’s come into the team,” said Shankland.

    “There was the whole thing with Craigy coming back from injury. That brings an added pressure as Craigy is such a good goalkeeper.

    “But for me Zander’s not doing anything to lose his place. He’s been brilliant for us, really big saves in big moments.

    “He’s a top goalie and he shows that. He’s had the chance to play at international level and that’s been good for him.”

  • Ruben Dias admits Man City will need more than just experience in new treble bid Ruben Dias admits Man City will need more than just experience in new treble bid

    Ruben Dias admits Manchester City cannot rely on experience alone as they bid to repeat last season’s stunning treble success.

    The champions moved back within a point of Premier League leaders Liverpool with a 3-1 derby win over rivals Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

    That sets up a huge showdown with the Merseysiders at Anfield next weekend and they face the other team in the title race, Arsenal, later this month.

    While they will also hope to progress in the Champions League and FA Cup, City’s impressive track record over the course and distance could be a significant – but Dias insists there is far more to it than that.

    The City defender said: “Every new year it is a new challenge and every new year we must overcome what we’ve done before.

    “Even though what’s done is done and it’s beautiful, we know if we want to do it again we’ve got to go strong and deep again.

    “We are the same people. We are the same players being treble winners or not, that’s why we became treble winners last season. That’s why we want to win again.”

    City dominated the derby but the first half proved a frustrating experience after Marcus Rashford fired United into an unexpected lead with a stunning strike in the eighth minute.

    It was not until after the break Pep Guardiola’s side were able to turn the game around with two superb goals from the outstanding Phil Foden while the irrepressible Erling Haaland added a late third.

    City manager Guardiola hailed Foden, who has now scored 18 goals this term, as one of the best players in the Premier League after the game and Dias could understand why.

    The Portugal international said: “I must agree he’s one of them for sure. He’s always been special, he keeps on being special.

    “It’s no surprise for me and for all of us in the team and in the world of football. I’m very happy for him and let’s allow him to continue.

    “He’s obviously got a special ability. That’s why he’s Phil Foden and that’s why we all recognise the kind of player he is.”

    City are next in action when they host FC Copenhagen in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Wednesday, a game they go into with a 3-1 aggregate lead.

    Dias wants to get that assignment out of the way first before switching his attention to the battle with Liverpool.

    He said: “The derby was definitely important. Obviously it was a special one for us, but more than anything else it’s the three points and we move forward.

    “Now Champions League, focus on the next one, that’s the most important. Then we’ll focus on next weekend.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.