In Mondays Hot Clicks: Messi Mania takes France, the Mets turn on their fans and more.
Messi Mania has begun in earnest in France.
Nearly three weeks after completing his move to Paris Saint-Germain, Messi finally made his Ligue 1 debut when he came on as a substitute to replace Neymar in the 66th minute of the team’s matchup with Reims. The sight of Messi in the blue and red of PSG, wearing No. 30 still seems like a strange dream.
PSG cruised to an easy 2–0 win behind a pair of goals from Kylian Mbappé, both scored before Messi entered the game. It wasn’t the most exciting debut but it was a good way to let Messi get into a game before the international break and ahead of what should hopefully be his home debut on Sept. 11 against Clermont.
For the other players on the field, though, playing against Messi was the experience of a lifetime. None of the Reims players could have expected before the season started that they would be sharing the field with perhaps the greatest player in soccer history, let alone in his first match for his new club. It was the kind of day they’ll want to remember forever.
Goalkeeper Predrag Rajković’s son is too young to remember what he saw at the Stade Auguste Delaune, but his dad made sure he’d have proof he was there. After the match, Rajković tracked down Messi and handed his son to him to pose for a photo.
Rajković’s wife, Ana, posted the photo on Instagram.
That might be a sign of things to come for Messi’s tenure in France. It has been a long time since Ligue 1, Europe’s sixth-best league, had a star anywhere close to his caliber. (Mbappé and Neymar are outstanding players, but they aren’t global icons on the same level as Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.) PSG’s road schedule will be a traveling circus with Messi as the main attraction. Rajković won’t be the last guy to thrust a baby into Messi’s arms, or ask for an autograph, or snag a selfie. Nor should he be. Getting to share the field with a legend of Messi’s stature is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
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