When Lionel Messi hoisted the World Cup trophy aloft at Qatar 2022, to all intents and purposes the Argentine superstar had completed football. Having won just about every major honour available to him at the club level, the most glittering of medal hauls now boasted international mementoes.
Having helped to inspire a Copa America triumph in 2021, bringing a lengthy obsession with senior silverware to a close, a man with seven Ballons d’Or to his name only had to wait for a little over 12 months before getting his hands on the grandest prize of them all.
Lionel Messi’s trophy cabinet is insane 🐐 pic.twitter.com/H8lgHrJ7eJ
— GOAL (@goal) February 27, 2023
Nobody, not even eternal rival Cristiano Ronaldo, can claim to have collected quite so many collective and individual accolades over the course of a quite stunning playing career. With his CV getting longer by the year, what is there left for Messi to achieve?
Well, he would quite like to add another Champions League crown to his collection. Any football forecast is likely to take Paris Saint-Germain into consideration when piecing together pre- or mid-season predictions, with it impossible to ignore the galaxy of stars that have been assembled at Parc des Princes.
However, another season has come and gone without success for the highly decorated inhabitants of the French capital. Last-16 conquerors Bayern Munich are now 11/4 to go all the way. A city that prides itself on having a certain sense of style has fallen out of fashion when it comes to the biggest show in continental sport.
Messi has made no secret of the fact that his decision to head for Paris when bidding farewell to Barcelona was driven in part by a desire to chase down what would be a fifth Champions League title for him – as many as Ronaldo has in his equally busy locker.
The South American said when putting pen to paper with PSG: “My goal and my dream is to win the Champions League once more. I think that we have the team to do it here. The squad and coaches here are capable of winning everything, which is my objective. The team here is incredible.”
He is not wrong, but a collection of talented individuals does not always make a brilliant team. PSG have been finding that out the hard way, leaving Messi still waiting on another entry to his enviable roll of honour.
Failure in Europe is, however, something that he has become accustomed to. For the best part of a decade now, Messi has been falling short when it comes to Champions League aspirations.
Find someone that looks at you the way Henry and Messi look at the trophy 🥰#UCL pic.twitter.com/Ww7HcLD2oY
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) August 17, 2022
His last success, during an era where Barcelona regularly swatted aside all before them, came in 2014-15. That was his third triumph in the space of six memorable years, but there has been nothing – or least very little – to get excited about since.
Joining PSG was supposed to help scratch that itch, but if anything it has become more irritating. Messi may have been able to secure the international titles that he once feared were destined to fall agonisingly out of reach, but he does still have plenty to play for domestically and will not want to head off into the sunset knowing that his wand of a left foot was unable to hit one final target.