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Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar Warned to Accept Roles by PSG Manager Galtier

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 5, 2022

Rit Heize/Xinhua via Getty Images

New Paris Saint-Germain manager Christophe Galtier has made it clear to his superstar trio of Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi and Neymar that they will occasionally find themselves on the bench this season amid a busy schedule for the club.

"I talked about it twice—once with each of them and once with the whole squad,—to tell them that this is how it was going to be and that we had to have the right attitude and accept it," he told reporters.

"You say it's new, but it's an obligation for everyone because of the very busy schedule," he added. "We play a lot, every three days, then every four days, then there is the World Cup. Everyone has to understand that they won't be able to play all the games."

Thus far it's worked. PSG has five points and a draw from its first six Ligue 1 matches, with a UEFA Champions League opener against Juventus looming Tuesday.

Thus far the 35-year-old Messi is the only of the trio to start all six of the club's games, with Neymar making six appearances (five starts) and Mbappe starting in all five of his appearances.

All three have been superb. Neymar, 30, has started the year with seven goals and six assists in league play, while Mbappe has seven goals as well and Messi has added three goals and six assists.

The trio is arguably the best attacking force in world football, and keeping them healthy over the long haul will be key if PSG is to finally win its first Champions League title.

That will be the main priority, as the Ligue 1 title is nearly a formality at this point. The Parisians have won the league eight times in the past 10 years, with only Monaco (2016-17) and Lille (2020-21) denting their recent domestic dominance.

Keeping the 23-year-old Mbappe this summer, amid a major advance from Real Madrid, was an enormous moment for PSG given its UCL aspirations. But the enormous commitment the club made to to keep the superstar has called into question just how much power he has at the club and whether he'd want to share the spotlight with his iconic teammates.

Thus far, the trio have been electric on the field, and Galtier has felt empowered to sub them on or off as he best sees fit. The early returns are positive. So long as PSG continue winning, the new manager's squad rotations will be tough to argue against.

If the results falter, however, it will be fascinating to see if PSG's three biggest superstars have something to say when they are asked to sit for long stretches.

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