PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN president Nasser Al-Khelaifi has hit back at Lionel Messi’s claim that the club did not appropriately celebrate Argentina’s World Cup success.
Messi, who left PSG for Inter Miami this summer, said he felt like the only player “who didn’t have recognition in his club” for his nation’s triumph in Qatar.
But Al-Khelaifi has refuted that accusation – and pointed out that PSG is French, whom Argentina defeated on penalties in the final.
The supremo said: "There’s a lot of talk outside, I don’t know what he did or didn’t say.
“As everyone saw – we even published a video – we celebrated Messi at training (when he won the World Cup), and we also recognized it privately.
“But with respect – we’re a French club. It was sensitive of course to celebrate at the stadium.
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“We need to respect the country that he defeated – his French team mates, and our fans too. But he was, and is, an amazing player – we were proud to have him here.”
Messi’s exit was one of many from PSG this summer, with close pal Neymar also leaving for Saudi outfit Al-Hilal.
Talisman Kylian Mbappe did end up staying after a turbulent few months where it looked as if he would depart too.
The France superstar was dropped from the squad and put up for sale at one point, after refusing to sign a new deal with his current terms expiring next summer.
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But he has since been reintegrated into the team and has eight goals in six games already this term.
Speaking about the 24-year-old, Al-Khelaifi added: "Any issues we had stay in the family and Kylian is family.
“I’m proud of what he – and all the squad – are doing. We have the best player in the world and for me he deserves the Ballon d’Or."
PSG have dominated Ligue Un during Al-Khelafi’s tenure but a Champions League triumph still eludes them.
Luis Enrique, who won the competition with Barcelona, has been brought in to see a rebuild after Neymar and Messi’s exits.
And Al-Khelaifi insisted Europe’s elite club tournament is no longer the be-all and end-all for him and his club.
He said: “The Champions League is not at all an obsession – that is over. I said that at the first press conference with Luis Enrique.
“We are building a new identity; our own style, our own principles of how to play, an offensive play – and a new culture.
“That’s what we want – and then the results will follow. We are building a team that is really playing as a team – we want our players to enjoy playing, our staff to enjoy coaching, and for our fans to enjoy it when you watch.”
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