Lionel Messi discusses injury and COVID-19 struggles during first season in Paris

By Sports Desk May 30, 2022

Lionel Messi spoke about the difficulties of his first season with Paris Saint-Germain, with injuries and COVID-19 playing a big factor in his preparation.

Messi, 34, scored six goals and gave 14 assists in his 26 Ligue 1 appearances, while scoring five goals in seven Champions League fixtures, but he missed league games, domestic cup games and a Champions League date due to various ailments.

After collecting his seventh Ballon d'Or, he has committed to the French giants for next season, which he believes will be far more fruitful.

Speaking to TyC Sports, he said it was difficult going from his comfortable setup in Barcelona to take on a new challenge, and it was all made even tougher by his lack of training availability.

"[The Barcelona exit] happened and it was a hard change, a difficult year honestly, because it was not easy to adapt," he said.

"At Barcelona, I had team-mates who I had been playing alongside for many years. They knew me by heart. This was all new to me. 

"I started late in Ligue 1 because I arrived late at the club. Then I had a blow to the knee and was out for a while, and between one thing and another I didn't play a lot, I couldn't do three to four games in a row. 

"During holidays, I said: 'after this, a new year arrives, I'm going to arrive with all the batteries, I'm going to change. That's it, the adaptation is over' – and COVID caught me."

He described the frustration of trying to work through his sickness, and his club's heart-breaking Champions League defeat against eventual champions Real Madrid.

"I couldn't train, I came back and spent a month and a half without even being able to run because it strongly affected my lungs," he said.

"I wasn't scared, but they tell you so many things. They wouldn't let me do anything. I wanted to start, and I even started before I should have started, and that was worse. 

"Later, when I was halfway there, the Real Madrid thing happened and that killed us. It killed me and the entire dressing room in general and all of Paris because they had a great dream in that competition… it was a blow."

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    Following a 2-1 win over Albania and a deserved 1-0 defeat to Spain, the defending champions entered their final match in Group B with their fate in the balance.

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    However, Mattia Zaccagni stepped off the bench to curl home a brilliant equaliser after 97 minutes and 19 seconds, the second-latest goal in Euros history (excluding extra time), after Hungary's Kevin Csoboth versus Scotland one day earlier (99:33).

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    "In my opinion, this is what you were told," Spalletti said, before asking the reporter his age.

    "You're 51, you still have 14 years before you get to 65 like me. I speak to the players, I need to hear with their ears and see with their eyes, so I talk to them, what is the problem?"

    Spalletti went on to claim someone in the Italy camp had leaked details of his conversations with the squad, saying: "Don't claim this is your poetic licence, this is just a weakness of those who leak things.

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    "I did my thesis at Coverciano on 3-5-2. I'll let you see it later. It's only natural that I speak to the players."

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