Lionel Messi is leaving Paris Saint-Germain. The Argentina international will feature at Parc des Princes for the final time this weekend and bid farewell to the French giants and Ligue 1 after two seasons in the capital. Messi, 35, departs as a two-time Championnat winner and played a significant role in that with title-clinching goals in each of his two campaigns. Sure, it has not necessarily played out how we might have imagined it and PSG have not hit the heights expected of them, but the former Barcelona man did have some moments of magic in France which it is important to not lose sight of ahead of leaving. With Barcelona, Inter Miami and Saudi Arabia considered the most likely destinations, we look at five of his best from his spell with Les Parisiens.
5. Lille 1-7 PSG
Earlier this season, Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar clicked away from home and helped Christophe Galtier's men to a 7-1 thumping of 2021 champions Lille OSC. It was just months before the FIFA 2022 World Cup in Qatar and PSG started the term phenomenally well and immediately hit top spot which they have never relinquished. Little did we know then that this was as good as it would get in terms of the trio combining and producing scintillating soccer, although the result and performance look more impressive when you consider their later slump and how LOSC have been a difficult side to come up against this season. Messi, individually, enjoyed another high point in the home win over Lille by scoring a dramatic late free-kick winner in a wild 4-3 victory.
4. First PSG goal vs. Manchester City
Messi picked the UEFA Champions League group stage home win over Manchester City to score his first goal for the club. The Argentine thumped in PSG's second in a 2-0 win which hinted at greater moments to come on the continental stage which never truly materialized in either of his two terms at Parc des Princes. It was an impressive result and performance in isolation but Mauricio Pochettino's time in charge was equally as disappointing as Galtier's and this result was one of few highlights in what was not a vintage first campaign for Messi in France.
3. Goal No. 496 and 11th title
In fact, Messi's strongest legacy in Paris will arguably be that he scored both of PSG's title-clinching goals in his two years with the club. Both came in 1-1 draws with the first season being a tie with RC Lens and the second being another 1-1 draw with RC Strasbourg Alsace which put the title beyond reach of the same Lens side. Messi's latest title winner actually had great personal significance too as it was his record 496th goal across the top five leagues which is something even Mbappe's early career productivity will be hard pushed to top in the coming years.
2. Messi-Mbappe Marseille masterclass
There were not too many moments when you felt like Messi and PSG could truly work, but there was one brilliant dovetailing display with Mbappe which gave us all a taste of what might have been from the Rosario native's time in Paris. The superstar pair combined brilliantly with Messi providing two assists and grabbing a goal himself from an Mbappe assist as part of a superlative collective showing from the two in a 3-0 win away at bitter rivals Olympique de Marseille. However, PSG's season was already unraveling by then after their Coupe de France exit at the hands of OM and a first leg UCL round of 16 loss at home to Bayern Munich had put paid to two of three silverware leads.
1. Welcome to Paris
Looking back at it, Messi's arrival was the high point of his time with PSG. The supporter frenzy in and around Parc des Princes was unlike the arrival of any previous star -- even Neymar -- and his arrival from Barcelona and later debut with the French champions away at Stade de Reims were two events that really put Ligue 1 front and center of European soccer for a few weeks. Sadly, France never truly seized upon this momentum and Messi never consistently hit the heights of his previous best which makes memories of his arrival all the more nostalgic. It could and should have been better than it eventually was, but those early days made it feel like something significant was about to be achieved by PSG and Messi together. Little did we know that we were already at arguably the highest point of his two-year stint in the City of Light.