When 150,000 Lionel Messi shirts went on sale on the Paris Saint-Germain website the day his signature was announced, they were gone in seven minutes.
PSG have been here before, when Neymar was signed almost four years ago, but it is safe to say that they were surprised by the excitement of welcoming the arrival of Argentine superstar Messi.
For the man though, it’s a whole new experience. He joined Barcelona as a boy at the age of 13. Now 34 years old, he and his young family are adjusting to a new life in a city that he last visited in December 2019, when he was called up to pick his record sixth Ballon d’Or.
Since the moment he landed in France in August, everyone at PSG has made a big effort to make him feel welcome. A group meeting was held at Under Herrera’s house, where the player was holding a barbecue to celebrate his birthday, and Messi has found himself back in the dressing room since the day he arrived.
Even former Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos, with whom Messi locked horns at numerous events in Spain, was quickly welcomed, and before signing he had already discussed the possibility of signing Angel Di Maria, Neymar and Leandro Paredes.
Neymar even offered his number 10 shirt instead of wearing the number w0 as a teenager during his senior debut for Bar্সa, which Messi refused.
He was also pleasantly surprised by the warmth of the reception given to him by Kylian Mbappe – who accidentally spoke perfect Spanish – as well as the happy-lucky team Joker Marco Verratti.
Messi has enjoyed a good relationship with PSG boss and compatriot Mauricio Pochettino. They understand each other, speak the same language literally and figuratively, and talk on the phone right after Messi’s announcement to leave Barcelona. They have a relationship that goes back some way.
On the first day of PSG training, Sebastiano Pochettino, the manager’s son, showed Messi some gym equipment. Messi looked confused, at first because it made him happy that he had just seen the little boy running around a flat in Barcelona, the boy is now advising a training system. Second, he wasn’t sure what to do with the equipment. Yes, he saw them in Barcelona, but he was never asked to use them.
This is another example of change for Messi, but things have become more familiar off the field. From his first match, August 2 Reims 2-0 win, PSG played like a team formed around him. In the attack they first look for his right side diagonal run, working together with a slight pass before the final injection at forward speed.
And playing left-handed with Messi at Barcelona, Neymar is much happier to transform himself into a winger again, as he has been at PSG for so long.
Against Manchester City in the Champions League last week, However, it was different as the PSG quickly realized that they would not dominate the occupation so they retreated and wanted to counter-attack. They did it well, but if you play like that you will always get less than Messi.
They would expect to be the controlling team in most games. But it could present another problem: this kind of style benefits Messi and Neymar more than Mbopp, because the French need space to run. This is a dynamic that can be difficult for Pochettino to balance.
The three forwards also have to work hard defensively. There are instances in the first few games of the team that have shown a tendency to split in two, with the front three stars losing contact with the rest of the team.
They must have come to a standstill over the weekend, Lost 2-0 to Rennes For the first league defeat of the season – and without managing shots on goal. Earlier they had won all of their eight League One games because they wanted to get the title back by winning by Lille for the last time.
A few weeks ago, a lot was made Messi substitutes at home, 2-1 win over Lyon 20 September. But the stories of being “stunned” and “stunned” about his change are extensive.
Although it is certain that Messi wants to play every minute of every match, Pochettino decided to move him because he knew he felt some discomfort in his knee. The manager suspected that something was wrong, and his instincts proved to be correct because Messi missed the next few days of training.
There was never a question about Messi’s commitment to the team. And if proof is needed, it came when, after scoring a great goal in the 74th minute to secure a 2-0 win over Manchester City, he took on the role of “draft excluder” on a defensive wall. When captain Marquinhos asked him to do it (this position is usually taken by Veratti, who was replaced at the time) he did not think twice.
Here was another example of jumping into the outside world to misinterpret Messi’s mood. When The former top players have decided to take offense in his favor And unspoken about the humiliation for the great player, Messi himself saw it as nothing more than what he had to do in the interests of the team.
That defeat to Rennes aside, Messi’s only dental problem has come off the field so far.
Argentina was less than impressed that details of its contract and wages were published on the first cover of the French newspaper L’Equipe. It took several years for his salary to be leaked in Spain, less than two months in France – although the report was found to be inaccurate.
The Messi family has added a disturbing soap opera developed around the search for a property in Paris. Interviews with real estate agents and property experts in the local media have often shown that they are thinking about what kind of home they want to buy.
In Spain it was always about football and while he always knew where he lived, his family’s privacy was respected.
In France it is becoming a different story and he is not happy with the intrusion, at least because it represents a potential security threat.
Living with his family in a hotel – albeit an extremely luxurious and spacious one – is far from ideal, although it must be said that Pochettino still does the same.
The main purpose of the family is to settle as soon as possible, although it is said to be easy to do because there are not many properties in Paris that can have gardens in their home in Castelldifeles on the outskirts of Barcelona and live an extensive outdoor life.
At the moment they occasionally wander in the parks near their hotel, always with safety. But the search for a home is almost over, and Messi’s wife Antonella is trying to keep everything in place.
It is impossible to overstate her role not only as a partner and mother to her children, but also as her best friend, faithful and a fundamental element in ensuring that everything goes as smoothly as possible in such a situation.
At just five years old, Messi first met Antonella Roccuzzo, a resident of Rosario. He is the cousin of his childhood best friend Lucas Scaglia, who is also a footballer.
The couple have been together since 2008. Messi quickly said the hardest thing about his decision to come to Paris, he was first telling his wife and his children about the move.
But Antonella has its stones, pillars of energy that keep the family strong and stable. He would never have thought of this step without the full support of his soul mate and his children, what he likes is unimaginable.
Perhaps aware of the idea that “fruit never falls from a tree”, Messi’s two older children train twice a week with the young side of the PSG, and Antonella has taken on that responsibility. She takes children to and from school and spends time on some of her personal projects: sponsorship, partnership and approval for herself, as well as being active on social media.
When families look out of their hotel windows, chances are they will still see many supporters gathered there, although the initial wave of outbursts has calmed down to at least as much as the gulf set up to keep the fence has now been removed.
But “Massimiania” shows no signs of diminishing more widely in Paris. On the day of the game against Manchester City when I entered the club store with the intention of buying PSG Messi shirts at home or away, they were sold out.
His goal in that game – and the promise of many more – means we have a long way to go.