KEY POINTS

  • Leo Messi has scored nine goals in all competitions this season
  • He has netted 26 goals fewer than Kylian Mbappe
  • Messi was also booed during PSG's UCL exit

Mauricio Pochettino has backed struggling Lionel Messi, saying that to judge the Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) "in this way is unfair." The PSG boss is confident that Messi will bounce back in the 2022-23 campaign. 

Messi ended his decorated run at FC Barcelona and moved to PSG in the summer of 2021. However, the massive change in his career and life has not been smooth. The seven-time Ballon d'Or winner has scored only nine times across competitions for PSG this season. Just four of those goals have come in 23 Ligue 1 appearances. 

"To judge Messi in this way is unfair. You can't talk about Messi that way. It is like when I talk about Maradona. I'm not talking about an ordinary player. Messi is on the same level as Diego Maradona," Pochettino said in an interview, according to 90Min.

"I have no doubts about his quality. Messi has enough talent to do what he has to do. He will do it. Next season will be completely different for him. It was a year of learning, and not just on a professional level coming to Paris Saint-Germain, in a new league, and with new teammates, but also on a family level. You must take that into account. It is a significant upheaval that can affect a player," the PSG head coach added.

Messi was also among the PSG players, including Neymar, booed by supporters by fans after Real Madrid eliminated them from the Champions League in the last-16 stage. 

Kylian Mbappe with Lionel Messi, who had a second-half penalty saved by Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois Kylian Mbappe with Lionel Messi, who had a second-half penalty saved by Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois Photo: AFP / FRANCK FIFE

The former Tottenham boss also added that there have been certain circumstances that did not allow Messi to feel as "comfortable" as when he was in Barcelona, a club where he had spent 20 long years, being its "flagship player."

At PSG, Kylian Mbappe has been on another level as the French forward has netted 35 goals in all competitions for the Parc des Princes side, 26 goals more than Messi and 24 more than Neymar.

The Argentinean skipper recently lifted his first trophy in France as PSG won the Ligue 1 title. Pochettino's boys sealed the title with four matches to spare, according to Goal.com.