Lionel Messi had to deal with boos and whistles on his Paris Saint-Germain return, but was spared the complete wrath of the Parc des Princes.
The Argentine was named in Christophe Galtier’s line-up that beat AC Ajaccio 5-0, cutting short his two-week suspension imposed for an unsanctioned trip to Saudi Arabia.
Messi had been punished for flying to the Middle East to serve his duties as a tourism ambassador for the Gulf state without the club’s permission.
But, 11 days on from a PSG statement confirming the World Cup winner would be suspended for skipping training, he returned to the line-up to a mixed response.
That was partly due to the absence of the Collectif Ultras Paris [CUP], who are boycotting matches after the club criticised their protests against Messi and teammate Neymar.
However, when the teams were announced, whistles accompanied Messi’s name while the stadium was filling pre-match.
Then, when the 35-year-old stepped out for pre-match warm-ups, sections of the stadium fought back against the whistles with cheers.
That didn’t last long, though, as when kick-off took place his first touch of the ball was loudly jeered, as was his first corner in front of the Auteuil stand.
The Argentine superstar did have some support, with Neymar in attendance, and on face time to their former Barcelona teammate Luis Suarez.
Thankfully for Messi, a lull in the noise soon came, which was punctured by Fabian Ruiz’s 22nd minute opener.
PSG then completed a rout of the relegation-threatened side with further goals from Achraf Hakimi, a Kylian Mbappe double and an own-goal from Mohamed Youssouf.
Not managing a goal or assist during the match wouldn’t have helped Messi’s cause, though, with persistent links saying he will return to Barcelona, or leave for Al Hilal.
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