PSG’s Lionel Messi with COVID-19: when will he play? What games will he miss in January?

Paris Saint-Germain have revealed that Lionel Messi has tested positive for COVID-19 and has yet to travel to France to join the team after spending the holiday period in Argentina.

Messi is one of four players PSG have identified as positive cases to start the year, alongside Juan Bernat, Sergio Rico and Nathan Bitumazala. It was also later revealed that midfielder Danilo Pereira had also tested positive.

“Lionel Messi is in direct contact with the club’s medical team”, coach Mauricio Pochettino said in his pre-match press conference before a Coupe de France match on January 3.

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Messi will miss the start of the 2022 calendar, starting with Monday’s Coupe de France match against Vannes OC. Pochettino has indicated that it remains to be seen whether Messi could be back in France and ready to play against rivals Lyon on January 9 in the Premier League game of 2022.

“We still do not know if he will play against Lyon. As long as his tests are not negative, he will not be able to travel to France, so we will have to wait.”

Argentinian football journalist Gaston Edul revealed Messi tested positive days before PSG’s announcement. Apparently he is feeling good and should be able to get to Paris “in a few hours,” according to Edul.

The team are already without injured Brazilian star Neymar, who was allowed to stay in Brazil until January 9, with a return to training expected in three weeks.

Which matches will PSG Messi miss?

Messi certainly won’t play Monday’s match at Vannes OC in the round of 16 of the Coupe de France, but it’s a game PSG should be able to handle without him. The Vannes OC is currently in the intermediate table of the classification of the French fourth division.

PSG fans will also not be too concerned that Messi could miss the game against Lyon on January 9, as PSG have a comfortable 13-point lead at the top of the Ligue 1 table at mid-season.

After the road trip to Lyon, PSG will play two consecutive home matches in Ligue 1 against Stade Brestois (January 15) and Stade de Reims (January 23).

Messi, 34, has scored six goals and five assists for PSG in his first 16 appearances with the club since joining this summer as a free agent. Five of his six goals have been in the UEFA Champions League and all five assists in Ligue 1.

It goes without saying that the matches that really matter to PSG will be the round of 16 against Spanish giant Real Madrid which kicks off on February 15 in Paris. The return leg will take place on March 9 in Spain. PSG acquired Messi in hopes he can help the club overcome the bump and win their first Champions League title.

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Why was Messi in Argentina?

After his first months of installation at PSG in Paris, Messi spent the 2021 end-of-year vacation in Argentina. The last PSG game he participated in was the 1-1 draw against Lorient on December 22, in which Messi and his PSG teammates fought without Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

Messi then traveled to his hometown of Rosario in Argentina, where videos and photos shared on social media showed him relaxing with the family.

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Argentinian media sounded the alarm when it was discovered that Messi was not on the private jet that brought his PSG teammates and Argentinian compatriots Angel Di Maria and Leandro Paredes back to Paris after the holidays.

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