2021-22 Ligue 1
  • Oualid El Hajjam (9')
  • Achraf Hakimi (19')
  • Mauro Icardi (21')

Paris Saint-Germain make winning start as Messi arrival looms

Paris Saint-Germain started their Ligue 1 campaign with a comeback 2-1 win at promoted Troyes on Saturday while anticipating the arrival of six-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi, who appears set to join the French giants.

Messi will be holding a news conference on Sunday after Barcelona said earlier this week that the 34-year-old Argentine will leave the club.

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ESPN sources reported on Friday that Messi is set to join PSG after Barcelona president Joan Laporta said the club had been forced to part ways with Messi because his high wages coupled with strict La Liga financial rules could jeopardise their future.

Following the hard-fought win over Troyes, PSG manager Mauricio Pochettino remained tight-lipped about signing Messi having said on Friday that his compatriot was "an option that was being evaluated."

"His name is associated with different clubs, there are plenty of rumours," Pochettino said. "We will see what happens in the coming days. The players have stayed focused. We did not start the game well and we gave away too many chances for my liking.

"But we have to give Troyes credit for making it difficult for us, they showed a lot of energy. We would have liked to win 5-0 but we'll take what we achieved."

The speculation proved to be an unwelcome distraction for PSG early on at Troyes, who took a shock ninth-minute lead when Oualid El Hajjam beat visiting goalkeeper Kaylor Navas with a firm downward header after a Dylan Chambost corner.

But the visitors, who relinquished the French league title to Lille last season, hit back with a quickfire brace as new signing Achraf Hakimi levelled in the 19th minute before Mauro Icardi turned the tide in the 21st.

Hakimi, who joined PSG from Inter Milan during the summer break, blasted in a sumptuous volley from a tight angle before Icardi found the roof of the net with the outside of his foot thanks to good work by Kylian Mbappe.

Mbappe twice came close in the second half with one of his shots cleared of the line and the other flying over the bar before PSG were forced to hang on in the closing stages.

Navas, who kept out three efforts from Rinaud Ripart, denied Troyes a share of the spoils in stoppage time as he palmed away the striker's glancing header from close range with PSG on the back foot in the last 15 minutes.