Lionel Messi’s miserable Ligue 1 start continued in midweek, with Lorient midfielder Thomas Monconduit claiming sides think Paris Saint-Germain are more beatable when it is Kylian Mbappe and Neymar out of the team.
The Argentine was expected to dominate what many perceived as a weaker league after he made his stunning switch from Barcelona in the summer.
And while PSG are coasting to the French title – 13 points clear of their nearest rival – Messi in particular has flattered to deceive.
In 11 Ligue 1 games, the Argentine icon has found the net on just one occasion, with the majority of his goals coming in the Champions League.
In fact, his tally of just a single goal in 865 minutes of domestic football is the least productive first half of a season in his entire career.
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Much was expected when Messi joined up with Kylian Mbappe and Neymar to form what – on paper at least – looked the most devastating front three in world football.
But while Mbappe has been in blistering form, his two rivals have failed to hit the heights many anticipated.
Both Mbappe and Neymar were out of PSG’s trip to Lorient in midweek, with Messi instead lining up alongside Icardi up top.
Relegation-threatened Lorient actually took the lead and looked set for all three points when Sergio Ramos picked up his customary red card – the first for his new club.
But Mauro Icardi spared PSG blushes by scoring a goal in injury time to ensure their record remains at just one defeat in the league this term.
And Lorient’s Monconduit suggested his side were dismayed at only picking up one point, citing PSG’s lack of speed and creativity when Messi is without the rest of his forward department.
“If we’d been told at the start of the match that we were going to finish at 1-1, we would’ve been happy,” Monconduit told Amazon Prime.
“But given the scenario of the match, it’s true, we’re frustrated. We had a lot of openings, we could’ve killed off the match but we finished poorly.
“It’s a bit of a shame, but that’s how it is, we’re going to take the positives from our performance.
“Afterwards, when PSG don’t win, we say that it was a weakened PSG, but we also had a good match.
“It’s true that when there’s no Neymar or Mbappé, their team lacks speed, and also creativity.”
The result does little to alleviate pressure on Maurico Pochettino, who has somewhat flattered to deceive in his first 12 months in charge.
PSG missed out on the title at the end of last season and it is likely he will need a deep Champions League run to avoid further scrutiny on his position.