Coach Mauricio Pochettino stunned the world of football on Sunday, September 19, 2021, when he decided to substitute Lionel Messi in the 76th minute during the Paris Saint Germain home game against Lyon.
The league game was Messi’s first home game and his first league start since he joined Paris Saint Germain in August this year. Hence, he was condemned to impress the home fans.
The 34-year-old Argentine football icon who has been under intense pressure to deliver since he left FC Barcelona for the first time in his career to join another club, did all he could but couldn’t score a goal.
During the league match, Lionel Messi missed a one on one chance and his free-kick hit the bar when PSG needed a win by all means.
When the game was already 1-1, the camera showed Messi checking out his knee which sent panic to PSG’s bench. A few seconds later, Messi signaled the bench that he was okay.
Lionel Messi was determined to continue with the game and do more to confirm his legendary status to Parisians at Parc Des Princes.
Unfortunately for him, coach Mauricio Pochettino, his countryman, had a different idea. He decided to bring in Achraf Hakimi to replace him in the 76th minute.
Lionel Messi was involved in 6️⃣shots against Lyon (4️⃣attempts,2️⃣chances created), only Kylian Mbappé against Clermont (7️⃣) has done better in a Ligue 1 2021/22 game.— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) September 19, 2021
This is the first time since 2010 that Lionel Messi was substituted from a league game with no injury concern. In his 804 professional club football games, the 34-year-old Argentine football icon has been substituted only 71 times mostly due to knocks or injury concerns.
Hence, when the Argentine tactician decided to substitute him when the team needed a winning goal so badly, Messi was not happy.
He proved how unhappy he was by refusing to take the coach’s handshake offer. Instead, he gave the coach an angry look that would leave the coach thinking for days.
Even after the record 6 time Ballon d’Or winner had settled down on the bench, the continence of the football star showed that he was unhappy with the substitution.
Amidst all that, Pochettino’s decision paid off as Mauro Icardi who replaced Ángel Di María in the 82nd minute got the winning goal for PSG.
After the hard-earned 2-1 win, Coach Mauricio Pochettino said: “These are decisions one has to make for the team.
“Everybody knows we have great players, but one has to make choices. Sometimes decisions are positive or not, but that’s why you have a manager: to make decisions. You can agree with [a decision] or not. I asked [Messi] how he was and he said to me that he was OK, no problems.
“Everybody knows that Messi is a great player. There are five subs (available) and it’s obvious that players never like to come off the field. One has to make decisions. I’m on the bench to make decisions. His reaction? Fine, no worries.”