PARIS (AP) — Paris Saint-Germain coach Christophe Galtier hopes World Cup winner Lionel Messi is ready to play in a French league game at home to Angers next Wednesday.
Messi took an extended break back home after leading Argentina to World Cup glory in Qatar, scoring twice in a wild final on Dec. 18. He returned to training with PSG on Wednesday and received a guard of honor from the players.
“He was happy and maybe even a little bit moved to receive this ovation,” Galtier said on Thursday. “We’re lucky to have a player like him.”
Galtier said the record seven-time Ballon d’Or winner is not fit to start on Friday in a French Cup game at third-tier Châteauroux.
“Leo trained yesterday and today. Obviously he won’t play tomorrow. He had an extraordinary World Cup with a lot of physical effort and challenges,” Galtier said. “Having discussed it with him we’re trying to get him ready for the next game. We’ll see. We hope he’s ready for (Angers).”
Châteauroux sits in 14th place in the third-tier National league, but at least it won’t have to deal with facing Messi, Kylian Mbappé or Neymar.
Neymar was absent from training on Thursday. Galtier said it was purely a precautionary measure and Neymar, who damaged ligaments in his right ankle playing for Brazil at the World Cup, will be rested for Châteauroux.
Mbappé and Morocco right back Achraf Hakimi are on holiday in the United States this week, after playing in back-to-back French league games shortly after returning from the World Cup.
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