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In Focus: Leo's PSG stint was anything but Messi
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Danny Ryan
Lionel Messi bows out of Europe with an unrivalled legacy
Lionel Messi bows out of Europe with an unrivalled legacy

Lionel Messi has decided to move to Inter Miami on a free transfer, bringing to an end to his incredible journey in European football.

The Argentine bows out as the all-time leading scorer in Europe's top five leagues with 496 goals and with 37 club trophies to his name.

Messi, 35, has spent the last two seasons at Paris Saint-Germain, where the going was slightly tougher for him than at Barcelona — despite winning two Ligue 1 titles.

But while another Champions League crown eluded the mesmeric forward, which saw fans at the Parc des Princes turn against him, he still found plenty of time to weave his magic.

As the world prepares for Messi-mania in Miami, we take a closer look at his time in France.

Assist king

While Messi's scoring powers waned somewhat at PSG, notching only 32 goals in 75 appearances, his creative output remained the best in Europe.

Over the past two seasons, the Rosario-born maestro has registered 30 league assists — four more than any other player in the continent's big five divisions.

Sixteen of those assists came this term, which was the joint-most alongside Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne. 

Messi's wizardry is a major reason why team-mate Kylian Mbappe finished as Ligue 1's top scorer with 29 goals.

The French striker aptly said last year: "It's easy to play with him!"

Lionel Messi recorded the most assists in Ligue 1 this season
Lionel Messi recorded the most assists in Ligue 1 this season

Pass master

Messi's importance to PSG in the last two campaigns is further highlighted by other key passing numbers. 

He ranked first on the continent for passes completed in the final third (1,376) and through-balls executed (56) — and third for big chances created (46), all while maintaining an impressive 84.75% passing accuracy. 

Compared to Messi's 56, the second-highest number of through balls recorded in the same timeframe was 32 by Manchester United playmaker Bruno Fernandes, while no other PSG player delivered more than 20.

The sight of Messi walking around the pitch can be frustrating to some, but the data proves there is still no one more effective with the ball at their feet.

Take-on titan

Despite being well into his 30s, Messi retained those familiar dribbling skills throughout his time in Paris.

Among players in Europe since the start of 2021-22, only Rafael Leao, Mbappe, Vinicius Junior and Allan Saint-Maximin completed more take-ons than the South American superstar (165).

His success rate was the best of the top five, too, recording the completion total from just 271 attempts.

Wayne Rooney said in December last year: "Being his opponent is a difficult place to be. You want to go and press him but know that if you do, you're not going to win the ball."

Lionel Messi's dribbling was hugely impressive in 2022-23
Lionel Messi's dribbling was hugely impressive in 2022-23

New chapter

While some PSG fans may not remember Messi's two-year stay fondly, to label it a failure would be wrong in the extreme.

He recorded numbers that most other quality footballers can still only dream of. 

Now fans in Miami will get to witnesses his unerring greatness in the flesh on a weekly basis as we enter the final stages of one of the finest sporting careers in history.


Lionel MessiParis Saint-GermainLigue 1Inter Miami CFMajor League Soccer
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