Lionel Messi is ‘ISOLATED’ at PSG and the Ligue 1 giants remain ‘Kylian Mbappe’s team’, claims Thierry Henry as he questions Mauricio Pochettino’s tactical use of superstar signing
Thierry Henry believes Lionel Messi is too ‘isolated’ at Paris Saint-Germain and that the Ligue 1 giants should do more to get the best out of him.
Argentinian superstar Messi signed for PSG as free agent in the summer after Barcelona’s financial woes meant they could not afford to keep him, but life in France has got off to a somewhat slow start.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner has scored three goals in the Champions League but is yet to open his Ligue 1 account in four domestic starts.
Thierry Henry believes Lionel Messi is ‘too isolated’ at PSG due to being played out wide
The former Arsenal star said Messi doesn’t see enough of the ball to influence games for PSG
Henry, who played alongside Messi at Barcelona between 2007 and 2010, attributed the lack of goals to PSG’s need to accommodate him alongside Kylian Mbappe and Neymar.
‘He [Messi] is isolated, he is on the ball less,’ Henry told RMC Sport. ‘I wouldn’t say he’s sad, but he’s isolated. I prefer him through the middle.
‘I’m having trouble with Leo out on the right. In the middle, he can set the tempo.
‘Something needs to be found in order to get Mbappe, Neymar and Messi to play together.’
Messi played with Henry (centre) at Barcelona for three years, winning the Champions League
Henry thinks Messi is stifled at PSG
Henry said that after over a decade of being the central figure at Barcelona, Messi was having to adjust to a team not designed around him, with Mbappe clearly the focal point of PSG’s attacks.
‘Messi doesn’t speak a lot, he speaks with the ball,’ Henry continued.
‘For now, it’s Kylian’s team. Kylian is the one who’s making it shine most of all. The ball goes more towards him.
‘At any single moment there can only be one conductor, otherwise you can’t play at the same tempo. And in this team, there are too many conductors.’
Mauricio Pochettino has tended to deploy Messi on the right of a front three, with Mbappe through the middle and Neymar out on the left.
Henry, however, suggested confining Messi to a particular area of the pitch was stifling his potential.
Messi opened his account for PSG with a stunning goal in a 2-0 win over Manchester City
‘I don’t think he can make the difference on the right, but then I don’t have the exact details from the tactical standpoint,’ the former Arsenal and Barcelona star added.
‘Obviously when you stay high up and you get out of the way, you won’t have an impact. Then you have fewer balls going towards him.’
Speaking earlier this month, Messi admitted he had been surprised by the level of physicality in Ligue 1.
But Henry said PSG are ‘clearly’ Kylian Mbappe’s (left) team and Messi has struggled to adapt
Messi is confident he, Neymar (right) and Mbappe will develop into a fearsome forward line
‘Ligue 1 is a league which is much more physical than La Liga,’ he told France Football.
‘Here in Ligue 1 the teams seem more powerful to me. Most of the players are very strong.’
He also quelled concerns he may struggle to strike a partnership with Mbappe and Neymar, with whom he played for four seasons at Barcelona.
‘I’m sure it will work out well,’ Messi said. ‘With a player like Kylian, it’s easy to get along. Also, he speaks perfect Spanish.’