The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner has managed nine goals and 13 assists across all competitions for his new club this season.
Lionel Messi has been judged unfairly in his debut campaign at Paris Saint-Germain, according to head coach Mauricio Pochettino.
The 34-year-old Argentinian has struggled to replicate the performances he produced for Barcelona at PSG. The club supporters have even booed the forward this season. They most recently took aim at him in a 1-1 home draw against Lens on April 23, despite his second-half goal sealing Pochettino’s side the Ligue 1 title.
‘Next season will be completely different for him’
But Pochettino has defended Messi’s performances in what he describes as a transitional season and backed his compatriot to do better in 2022/23.
“To judge Messi in this way is unfair,” said the PSG coach as per ESPN.
“You can’t talk about Messi that way. It is like when I talk about Maradona. I’m not talking about an ordinary player. Messi is on the same level as Diego Maradona.
“I have no doubts about his quality. Messi has enough talent to do what he has to do. He will do it. Next season will be completely different for him. It was a year of learning, and not just on a professional level coming to Paris Saint-Germain, in a new league and with new teammates, but also on a family level. You must take that into account. It is a significant upheaval that can affect a player.”
Messi has managed nine goals and 13 assists in 31 appearances across all competitions since joining PSG on a free transfer from Barcelona, including four goals in Ligue 1.
“It is clear that the move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain was a change in which a process of adaptation was necessary,” Pochettino added.
“Certain circumstances did not allow him to feel as comfortable as in Barcelona, where he had spent 20 years, where he had been the flagship player.”
Messi and PSG return to action this Sunday for a Ligue 1 home match against Troyes in Paris.