Lionel Messi is experiencing whatever the opposite of second-season-syndrome is right now at Paris Saint-Germain.
On the back of a disappointing first year at the Parc des Princes which saw him miss out on a Ballon d’Or nomination, the legend himself has flown out of the blocks for the 2022/23 campaign.
In fact, remarkably, Messi has already helped himself to four Ligue 1 goals from his eight outings so far this season when he only amassed six strikes in the competition across the entirety of 2021/22.
Messi’s electric start to 2022/23
Sure, that might not make for the sort of head-spinning statistics we see from Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe these days, but boy is it still an emphatic return to form.
Anyway, though, much of the brilliance that Messi has been showcasing this season has come in the playmaking department with his frankly ridiculous range of passing orchestrating so many of PSG’s most potent attacks.
The Barcelona icon really does seem to have leant into his later-career evolution of dropping deeper and pulling the creative strings, finding Mbappe and Neymar time after time with perfectly weighted through-balls.
Messi proves the difference vs Lyon
But don’t think for one second that Messi doesn’t still have the ability to win crucial games with his own goalscoring touch because that was exactly what happened against Lyon on Sunday night.
In what always proves to be one of the standout fixtures in the French footballing calendar, Messi proved the difference with a decisive fifth-minute strike that set up PSG for a 1-0 victory.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner was typically involved in the build-up, as were Mbappe and Neymar, before sweeping home a beautiful left-footed finish that you can check out down below:
Video: Messi scores PSG’s winner from Neymar assist
It's taken just over four minutes for PSG to take the lead against Lyon 👊— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) September 18, 2022
Neymar & Messi combine to produce a beautiful goal 😍 pic.twitter.com/dr2wFmDMzB
Another angle of Lionel Messi's goal for PSG. 🇦🇷pic.twitter.com/hxer7Ek7qE— Roy Nemer (@RoyNemer) September 18, 2022
messi goal neymar assist thats what we love to SEEEE pic.twitter.com/4aZsMAZXnq— ⚽️ (@8_8pedri) September 18, 2022
An all-round superb display from Messi
However, it’s a wonder that there weren’t more goals for Messi to add to his collection because to say that he was a thorn in Lyon’s side would be the mother of all understatements.
Whether it was forcing a goal-line clearance with his sheer composure under pressure or coming just inches away from scoring a sensational free-kick, Messi really was firing on all cylinders as a goalscoring threat.
Plus, it won’t come as a surprise to learn that the 35-year-old was also typically entertaining in everything else that he did from mazy runs to gorgeous turns to inch-perfect passes – it truly was a joy to behold.
But don’t just take our word for it because the wonderful people over on Twitter have done what they do best and sewn together every last glittering highlight of Messi’s display for you to check out down below:
Video: Messi’s match-winning highlights from Lyon 0-1 PSG
Messi Vs. Lyonpic.twitter.com/P591UgbGFB— ً (@LSComps) September 18, 2022
Lionel Messi Vs Olympique Lyon – 22/23 (A)pic.twitter.com/5fGXtFiaCg— Λ (@TotalLM10i) September 18, 2022
Be right back… just off to spam the replay button a few more times.
An eighth Ballon d’Or next year?
The difference between the Messi of last season and the Messi of this year couldn’t be any clearer because the consistency with which he’s turning out these kind of performances is starting to feel like the Barca days again.
Whereas his first year in France saw the odd masterclass sprinkled across months, the Messi we’re used to seeing – and starting to see yet again – is one who seldom goes a single match without producing popcorn-worthy highlights.
And on the back of yet another glittering display to turn over one of Ligue 1’s biggest sides, don’t rule out of the possibility that Messi could well be competing for an eighth(!!!) Ballon d’Or in 2023.