Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi won his seventh Ballon d'Or after a year in which he captained Argentina to victory at the Copa America and left Barcelona for PSG AFP / FRANCK FIFE

Argentine football superstar Lionel Messi has been accepting trophies left and right, but his career has also suffered major blows in recent times. While it may seem like his success has continued to flow uninterrupted since leaving FC Barcelona, he has now admitted that he struggled during his first year in Paris.

It may be remembered that Messi made the shock move to join Ligue 1 side Paris Saint-Germain after FC Barcelona failed to offer him a contract extension in the summer of 2021. Messi was believed to have been confident of staying after becoming convinced that his future remained at the Camp Nou. However, despite willingness from both sides, the Catalan giants were unable to re-sign their then captain because of their financial crisis. Simply put, they could no longer afford him even if he agreed to a massively reduced salary.

In the end, Messi's contract was left to expire and he became a free agent. PSG swooped in almost immediately and signed the Argentine forward in a transfer that captivated the entire football community.

It has now been a full season and a half since then, and Messi's time at PSG has so far been underwhelming. The club regained the Ligue 1 title in 2021/22 after losing to Marseille the year before, but Messi did not make as much of an impact as he was expected to make alongside Neymar Jr. and Kylian Mbappe.

Futhermore, they have so far failed to achieve Champions League glory despite the massive investment the club's Qatari owners have injected into the squad. It is a well-known fact that PSG are desperate to find success in Europe, but they fell short last season at the hands of Real Madrid despite some major heroics from Mbappe. Messi was mostly neutralised during that campaign, and he is the first to admit it.

"The first year in Paris was very difficult for me," he said, in an interview quoted by Marca.

However, the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner said that his second season with the French giants has been much more positive. "I started this season differently. I'm much more comfortable with the club, the city and everything that Paris means," he said.

He could probably be forgiven for needing a year to adjust, considering that he had been living and playing in Barcelona since he was only 13 years old. He had not played professionally for another club other than FC Barcelona before making the sudden move to PSG in his thirties.

In the 2022/23 season, he has been visibly more confident on the pitch and has been working well with both Neymar and Mbappe. On the international stage, he also led Argentina to a fairytale FIFA World Cup title over the winter.

Back on the club front, PSG are sitting with a comfortable advantage at the top of the Ligue 1 table. However, they still face an uphill battle in the Champions League. They are holding a 1-0 deficit against Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich as they head into the second leg of their last-16 tie.

The match will take place on Wednesday evening in Germany, and the Parisians will need to work hard to secure a comeback on hostile territory. Bayern is one of the most successful teams in Champions League history, and PSG will be coming in as the underdogs despite the impressive pedigree of their roster. However, they will be without Brazilian star Neymar, who is set to undergo surgery after sustaining a broken ankle.

It will be a massive achievement if Messi can help PSG reach Champions League success, and it could also determine his future. His two-year deal with the club ends this summer, and it is still unclear if he will agree to an extension. The club is understood to be keen on a renewal, but that offer will improve immensely if the Champions League trophy is sitting on a cabinet at the Parc des Princes.