October 5, 2023

Lionel Messi has been a key member of Paris Saint-Germain’s first team since coming from Barcelona in 2021. Is the capital club better with or without him in the lineup since then?
Messi astonished the football world last summer when he joined PSG on a free transfer from Barcelona, reuniting with Neymar Jr. and forging an unbelievable front three with the Brazilian and Kylian Mbappé.

Messi has 31 goals and 34 assists from 72 appearances in all competitions since his arrival and is on the verge of a second straight Ligue 1 Uber Eats title after winning the FIFA World Cup with Argentina in December.

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While those are outstanding individual numbers, PSG hasn’t necessarily been better with Messi in the lineup…

Season 1 of 2021/22 gets off to a poor start.

Messi’s first season was hampered by a nagging knee injury and a bout of COVID-19, but it provided plenty of data regarding PSG’s success with and without him.

In total, Messi missed 12 Ligue 1 Uber Eats games and 15 overall. He, PSG averaged 2.58 points per game and 2.12 with him. They also scored somewhat more goals and surrendered slightly fewer.

“To judge Messi in this way is unfair,” former coach Mauricio Pocgetiino stated. “It was a year of learning, not just on a professional level, coming to Paris Saint-Germain, in a new league and with new teammates, but also on a family level.”
PSG in Ligue 1 with and without Messi Uber Eats in 2021/22

P38, W26, L4, D8, GF90, GA36, GD54, Pts86 in Ligue 1.

P26, W16, L3, D7, GF61, GA26, GD35, Pts55 in Ligue 1.
2.12 average points, 2.3-1 average scoreline

P12, W10, L1, D1, GF29, GA10, GD19, Pts31 in Ligue 1 sans Messi
The average scoreline points are 2.58, and the average scoreline is 2.4-0.8.

PSG in all competitions with and without Messi in 2021/22

P49, W32, L7, D11, GF112, GA48, GD64, and Pts107 are the totals from all contests.

All Messi tournaments P34, W20, L6, D9, GF74, GA36, GD38, Pts69
The average number of points is 2.03, and the average score is 2.2-1.1.

P15, W12, L1, D2, GF38, GA12, GD19, and Pts38 without Messi
2.53 average points, 2.5-0.8 average scoreline

2022/23: Season 2, regaining his form

Messi confessed that his first season was not as successful as he had wanted on an individual level, since it was the first time he had failed to reach double figures in goals scored since the 2005/06 season with Barcelona:

“I think about being able to reverse the situation, about not having the feeling of having changed clubs and that things didn’t go well for me.” He stated. “I’m already prepared for what’s to come; I know the club, I know the city, I’m a little more at ease in the locker room, with my teammates, and I know it’ll be different.”

And he has kept his word this season. Messi has only missed six games in Ligue 1 Uber Eats and nine in all competitions in 2022/23, and PSG has missed him when he isn’t there. They score 2.45 points per game with him and 1.67 points without him. They also score one more goal every game on average.
PSG in Ligue 1 with and without Messi in 2022/23 Uber Eats

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Ligue 1 overall
GF84, GA35, GD49, Pts81, P35, W26, L6, D3.

P29, W23, L4, D2, GF75, GA26, GD49, Pts71 in Ligue 1.
2.45 average points, 2.6-0.9 average scoreline

P6, W3, L2, D1, GF9, GA9, GD0, Pts10 in Ligue 1 sans Messi
1.67 average points, 1.5-1.5 average scoreline

PSG in all competitions with and without Messi in 2021/22

P47, W33, L9, D5, GF115, GA48, GD67, Pts104 total for all tournaments

All Messi tournaments P38, W28, L7, D3, GF95, GA37, GD58, Pts87
2.29 average points, 2.5-1 average scoreline

P9, W5, L2, D2, GF20, GA11, GD9, Pts17 without Messi
1.89 average points, 2.2-1.2 average scoreline

What awaits in 2023 and beyond?

Messi is out of contract with PSG and was recently suspended by the club for an unofficial vacation to Saudi Arabia following a 3-1 loss to FC Lorient. He missed the ensuing 3-1 win at ESTAC Troyes but returned for last Saturday’s 5-0 win over AC Ajaccio.

“First and foremost, I want to apologize to my teammates and the club,” Messi wrote on Instagram before returning. “To be honest, I thought we’d have a day off after the game like we had in previous weeks.”

“I had this trip planned that I had already canceled; I couldn’t cancel it again.” I’ll say it again: I’m sorry for what I did. I’m waiting to hear what the club has planned for me.”

While both club and player appear to have buried the hatchet, Paris may reflect on what Messi’s presence has meant over the course of the season…
PSG with and without Messi since his arrival

All Messi competitions

GF169, GA73, GD96, P72, W48, L13, D12, Pts156
2.17 average points, 2.3-1 average scoreline

Without Messi, every competition is a loss.

GF58, GA23, GD35, Pts55, P24, W17, L3, D4
2.29 average points, 2.4-1 average scoreline

As can be seen above, PSG has been somewhat better without Messi than with him during the last two seasons, despite a huge improvement in his performances. They score slightly more and average slightly more points.

Messi is still a world-class player, arguably the greatest of all time, and if he stays beyond this summer, he will be able to maintain the above figures. But even if he does, PSG has proven that they can win without him.

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