Lionel Messi scores stunner, wins first trophy with PSG

Paris St Germain v RC Lens - Parc des Princes, Paris, France - April 23, 2022, Paris St Germain's Lionel Messi celebrates scoring their first goal [Reuters, Christian Hartmann]

Paris St Germain have clinched a record-equalling 10th French title but the achievement will do little to soothe the pain of yet another embarrassing exit from the Champions League as the club face a rocky off-season.

PSG secured the Ligue 1 title with four games to spare but have already been knocked out of the French Cup and were eliminated by Real Madrid in the last 16 of Europe's major competition after squandering a 2-0 aggregate lead in just over 15 minutes at the Bernabeu.

The failure leaves Argentine coach Mauricio Pochettino, who has been unable to give the team a proper playing style since he took charge 16 months ago, on the brink of an early exit, too.

After wasting a four-goal lead against Barcelona in 2017 and a two-goal away advantage against Manchester United in 2019, PSG reached the final in 2020 and the last four in 2021, but this season will remain as one of their most disappointing in the Qatari era.

Whether the club owners, Qatar Sport Investment, who have spent well over one billion euros on transfers in 11 years, will allow Pochettino to stay until his contract expires in June 2023 is anyone's guess.

On the domestic front, their financial power has helped PSG to once again crush the opposition and they have so far scored goals, 22 of them through Kylian Mbappe.

The France forward was one of the rare players to live up to his reputation after saying he wanted to leave last summer.

Club president Nasser Al Khelaifi and sporting director Leonardo did not let him go -- their best decision amid a number of questionable moves.

Lionel Messi, who joined amid much fanfare as a free agent from Barcelona, has not delivered, scoring only four goals in Ligue 1 in 22 appearances.

The Argentine delivered 13 assists, though, but the attacking trio he formed with Mbappe and Neymar clicked only deep into the season, and after the Champions League exit.

Keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma joined from AC Milan after guiding Italy to the European title, but he has had to share his place between the posts with the experienced Keylor Navas -- a situation that seemed to prevent both of them performing at their best level.

"I have a very good relationship with Gigi but I want to play every game, it's a complicated situation," Navas said last weekend.

"I'm happy in Paris but somehow it has to change."

Centre back Sergio Ramos was also announced as a major recruit but was injured for most of the season and featured in only nine league matches.

The biggest challenge for PSG's management will, however, be to convince Mbappe to extend his stay at the club.

"You must adapt to every circumstance and personal situation involving players with regard to their club and contracts. On a selfish level, I'd like to keep him. And take him on a holiday with me, take him home," Pochettino told reporters.

"We would like him to renew and stay. That's very obvious. It would be important for him to stay, but these decisions come down to the player, club and different parties."

Leonardo said: "There are always discussions with Kylian. He is in a period of reflection. He could be staying, it's a possibility, and he could leave as after all his contract expires at the end of the season."

Lagging far behind PSG, second-placed Olympique de Marseille are the favourites to clinch the other direct qualifying spot for next season's Champions League while the battle rages on between Stade Rennais, Racing Strasbourg, Nice and Monaco to secure third spot, which would send them into the third qualifying round.

 

Rugby
Rugby: How Homeboyz fell giants to emerge Dala Sevens champion in Kisumu
By Odero Charles 7 hours ago
Football
Reports: Eriksen could be on his way to Man United- 'verbally agrees transfer'
By Reuters 9 hours ago
Football
Ivory Coast midfielder Kessie joins Barcelona as free agent after leaving AC Milan
By Robert Abong'o 11 hours ago
Football
The rise and rise of Gabriel Jesus: From painting streets to scoring goals