The biggest news story in soccer and maybe all sports recently was Lionel Messi’s move from Barcelona to Paris Saint–Germaine(PSG). He will be rejoining his close partner in Neymar and playing with one of the best young talents in the game today, Kylian Mbappe.
Now, going back to the question, it really depends on what you value for one’s career: stats or trophies.
Stats-wise, you would think that Messi is going to have to take a slightly more backseat role in terms of goals sharing the field with Mbappe and Neymar who had 27 and 9 goals, respectively last season for their club. Neymar was injured most of last season and had covid issues as well, but in the 6 previous seasons, he had double-digit goals.
In terms of assists, Messi, who has never been shy of passing in goal-scoring opportunities, could increase his assist production as he had done in his seasons in the past playing with Neymar and Luis Suarez at Barcelona. Sharing the field with two of the best players in the game today could hurt his production enough to decrease his chances for Ballon D’or. Neymar and Mbappe’s production will continue to be solid, but where will Messi’s production fit into the new system?
In terms of trophies, this is a great move for Messi. Without Messi, PSG was a clear favorite to win Ligue 1. Now, with the additions of Gianluigi Donnarumma (GK), Sergio Ramos (CB), Georginio Wijnladum (CM), and Messi (CF/CAM), there is no question that they should be able to win an already sup-par league.
For the Champions League, PSG is probably the early favorites with only a few teams who will be able to match up with this firepower. Juventus, with the great Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester City, with their already stacked lineup and newly added Jack Grealish and potentially Bayern Munich with Robert Lewandowski leading the team, may be the only teams who would stand a chance against this PSG powerhouse. It is still too early to tell how this move to PSG will play out but should help in Messi’s quest to earn more trophies.
Comparison to the NBA Super Teams
This does feel quite like the NBA where Lebron joined up with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh to form the first NBA “Super Team” or Kevin Durant joining the Warriors who had made it to the finals the year before. Taking this analysis one step further and looking at this beyond stats and trophies, was this the right decision in terms of competitiveness?
In today’s sports, should athletes care more about competing or winning? Stats or glory? Not to hark too much on the NBA, but how rewarding was it for Giannis to stay with the Bucks this year and win a championship with the team that was built around him where he struggled to get through the playoffs in years prior? How much better would it have been for Kevin Durant if he stayed with the Thunder, beat the Warriors in the Conference Finals, and then went on to beat Lebron and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the finals?
It really depends on how much you are willing to risk to get the true glory of winning. Messi and Barcelona had struggled to win the most-coveted Champions League trophy in recent years so he probably thought it was now or never as he gets older and further into his career.
Now, Messi has the task of sealing the deal with the opportunity that he has chased. The pressure is on. Can he rise to the occasion? Only time will tell. Messi achieved his first major International trophy earlier this year, but let’s see if he can add to his club trophy case with the new Super Team in Paris.