Lionel Messi is unlikely to be back with Paris Saint-Germain until ‘January 2 or 3’, according to club coach Christophe Galtier, as the 35-year-old continues to spend time in Argentina after winning world Cup. after the victory on penalties against France in the final.
However, Kylian Mbappé, Neymar Jr. and Achraf Hakimi – who played for France, Brazil and Morocco at Qatar 2022 – could return to PSG’s squad for Wednesday’s Ligue 1 game against Strasbourg, as long as they’re “well physically and mentally,” Galtier said.
PSG have a five-point lead over Lens at the top of Ligue 1 as the French domestic season returns after a six-week mid-season break for the World Cup.
Ligue 1 clubs will play two matches this week and Galtier says the return to football will help players who were disappointed in Qatar.
“I sent messages of support to those who were disappointed and messages of congratulations to those who went far in the tournament,” the PSG coach told reporters.
“They are top-level footballers, and I think the best medicine for them is to get back to work as soon as possible, surrounded by their friends, and rediscover a taste for competitive football.
“I noticed that everyone is mentally ready for us to work together again. I saw Kylian congratulate Leo and the opposing manager during the trophy presentation, which is a sign of respect between our players.
“What I remember is the good attitude of Kylian, who showed know-how and class despite the disappointment. It’s a very good thing for the team and for the club.
PSG and Lens face off in a massive top-of-the-table clash on Sunday, but Galtier believes previous form matters little as the six-week break means the restart will be ‘like the start of a new season’ for the club. teams.
The second half of the season is full of action for PSG with the return of the Coupe de France and the Champions League.
In the coming days, Galtier is confident he has a full squad – minus Messi – to choose from, including Neymar who suffered a sprained ankle in the World Cup group stages but was able to return for both Brazil knockout matches.
“With the players who returned, we operated on a case-by-case basis, both physically and mentally,” Galtier said.
“Unfortunately, some players were eliminated earlier than others, but Achraf and Kylian were looking forward to joining us very quickly.
“As long as they are fine physically and mentally, we have no reason to do without them for the next two league games, which will be very important.
“However, it’s up to us to think about the right time for them to rest and decompress in the coming weeks. All the players who have returned will be available for tomorrow’s game.
“The Spaniards, Portuguese and Brazilians had about ten days off, but everyone came back on the agreed date and are training normally.”