Paris Saint-Germain superstar Lionel Messi is widely tipped to lift his seventh Ballon d’Or trophy next month. His form since arriving at the Parc des Princes from Barcelona in August, though, hasn’t set the world on fire – and former PSG striker Nicolas Anelka believes that the Argentine has received an easy ride from many following his underwhelming start.
Despite scoring two goals in three Champions League appearances, the 34-year-old has yet to open his Ligue 1 account in five attempts.
Messi’s colleague Neymar has experienced a similarly lean spell in front of goal this season, finding the net just once in seven domestic outings himself.
Although both Messi and Neymar have struggled to find their shooting boots this term, Anelka feels that the Brazilian is judged far more harshly by critics than the ex-Barcelona man.
Speaking to RMC, per the Daily Mail, Anelka also had some tough feedback for Messi on his time in Paris so far, suggesting that the Argentine legend was clearly no longer at the peak of his powers.
“Today we demand from Neymar, but we can do the same with Messi. Since the beginning of the season it is not extraordinary either. There is a player who has six Ballon d’Ors and finally is not so extraordinary,” declared Anelka.
In fairness to Messi, he hasn’t had long to develop an understanding with his new teammates. Even as part of Mauricio Pochettino’s all-star squad, it still takes time for players to come together on the same wavelength.
Fitness concerns and international commitments have meant that the exceptional trio of Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar have yet to hit their stride as an attacking unit.
While Anelka appears to have concerns over whether Messi will ever show his top form in Paris, he has backed Neymar to emerge from what the Frenchman called a ‘difficult moment’ in his career.
“He [Neymar] is going through a difficult moment. If the coach thinks he has to play to regain his level, he makes him play. Putting it aside or replacing it to break their morale is not going to fix things.
“In addition, he has a great salary, he is a star of French and world football. He is one of the best players in the league, although right now he is fighting to show it.”
For all Anelka’s talk of underperformance from two of PSG’s top stars, it is worth remembering that the side is still comfortably top of Ligue 1 – and also sits at the head of a Champions League group that includes Manchester City.
Pochettino is hardly facing a full-blown crisis just yet.
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