Lionel Messi is seriously cooking this season.
It’s well publicised that the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner didn’t necessarily hit the ground running in his first year at Paris Saint-Germain, but it looks like he’s just come down with one of the best cases of second-season-syndrome that we’ve ever seen.
Simply put, PSG have flown out the blocks under Christophe Galtier’s stewardship and the clearest area of improvement has come in attack with Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar finally starting to gel.
Strong starts for Messi and PSG
The French champions opened up their Ligue 1 season by battering Clermont 5-0, routing Montpellier 5-2 and annihilating Lille 7-1 with only a 1-1 draw with AS Monaco at the weekend halting their charge.
However, it was normal service resumed on Wednesday night as the Parisians returned to winning ways with a 3-0 triumph at Toulouse that showcased exactly how much Messi means business this season.
The scoresheet might not have been adorned with his name this time around, but the Barcelona icon once again leaned into his later-career role of a playmaker by pulling the strings for those around him.
As such, the 35-year-old finished up his night’s work at the Stadium de Toulouse with two assists to his name, turning provider for both Mbappe and Neymar to maintain PSG’s lead at the top of the table.
Messi’s assist for Neymar
So let’s walk our way through Messi’s latest impressive performance in 2022/23 by kicking off with his assist for Neymar, which was certainly the lesser of the pair but still deserving of praise.
After all, it was the deftness and vision of Messi’s cute pass into the penalty area that rounded off a slick team move and played Neymar, who has been in frankly terrifying form this season, clear through on goal.
Messi’s assist for Mbappe
And after the Brazilian did the rest with a tidy finish to put PSG 1-0 up at the break, Messi once again turned on the style in the second-half to ensure that Mbappe added to his own personal tally.
Messi made a fabulous run down the left-hand side and looked to be going alone with a fine solo run that left a Toulouse player flat on their face, but he instead took the selfless route by squaring the ball to Mbappe.
And that was all she wrote with Messi’s two flashes of creative impudence laying the foundations for Juan Bernat to further secure the three points with a third goal for PSG in the 90th minute.
The whole stadium applauds
However, by that stage, Messi had already put his feet up for the evening as Galtier hailed him back to the bench for safekeeping – and even that summed up the forward’s evening as he drew applause from every corner of the stadium.
While a gentle applause from Toulouse fans might not be Ronaldinho getting a standing ovation at the Bernabeu, it nevertheless underlined just how impeccable Messi was on the night.
Messi’s individual highlights
And if the reception he received doesn’t quite cut it, then maybe Messi’s individual highlights will, because it’ll come as no surprise to learn that each and every aspect of his performance was typically thrill-a-minute.
From almost scoring a delicious free-kick to generally being a constant thorn in Toulouse’s side, it’s one of those vintage Messi displays that can’t help but leave you scrambling for the popcorn.
He just oozes class, doesn’t he?
A stellar season ahead for Messi
Truth be told, there’s reason to think that it was actually an average night’s work for Messi, but it just so happens that his version of average is what most players would consider to be their best performance of the season.
So it really is scary to think that Messi is starting to play like this week in, week out for PSG, just as we’d become used to seeing from him at Camp Nou.
And if that’s not a frightening thought for any and every defence around Europe, then we don’t know what is.