The footballing world has been coming to terms with witnessing something they never really expected to witness: Lionel Messi playing for a club other than FC Barcelona.
Following his heartbreaking exit from the Camp Nou amid the financial turmoil the Catalan giants find themselves in and subsequent move to Paris Saint-Germain, the Argentine icon finally made his bow for the French side on Sunday night.
The venue? Stade de Reims’ humble Stade Auguste Delaune.
Messi was introduced as a 66th-minute substitute for another superstar in Neymar, and took to the field to rapturous applause.
Needless to say, the Twittersphere was struggling to come to terms with seeing Messi in another club’s shirt.
It was finally time for Messi’s football to do the talking, and as you might expect he seemed to take to Ligue 1 like a duck to water, gliding around the pitch, dribbling, laying off passes and generally enjoying himself.
One moment in particular caught the eye, when a defender dribbled past him. Messi immediately chased back, nicked the ball off him, laid off a pass, got it back and drove forward once again – much to the delight of the travelling faithful.
Interestingly on the night it was another superstar – wantaway Kylian Mbappe – who stole the show with a match-winning brace, and some were quick to point out that because Neymar was withdrawn for Messi, we still may never see the Frenchman, Brazilian and Argentine line up alongside each other – if Mbappe forces a move away.
Others noted an immediate chemistry between Mbappe and his new teammate…
Overall, though, it was a nice, easy, incident-free debut for the 34-year-old – even without a goal.
There was even time for a very sweet moment after the full-time whistle, with Messi taking the time to pose for a photo with opposition goalkeeper Pedrag Rajkovic’s son.
A class act, all round.