PARIS ( Associated Press) – Paris Saint-Germain coach Christophe Gaultier expects Lionel Messi to be ready when he hosts Angers in a French league match next Wednesday.
The star got extra rest after contributing two goals in the final on December 18 to lead Argentina to the World Cup crown in Qatar. Messi returned to training with PSG on Wednesday, and his teammates formed a hall of honor to celebrate the South American star’s victory.
“He was happy and maybe even a little touched to get this standing ovation,” Gaultier said on Thursday. “We are lucky to have a player like him.”
Gaultier said Messi, who has won a record seven Ballons d’Or, is in no position to start Friday’s match against third-division side Châteauroux in the French Cup.
“Leo trained yesterday and today. Obviously he will not play tomorrow. He had an extraordinary World Cup with a lot of physical effort and challenges”, commented Gaultier. “After discussing it with him, we will try to prepare him for the next game. We will see. Let’s hope Let’s make sure it’s ready.”
Chateauroux is 14th in the third tier, but at least he won’t face Messi, Kylian Mbappe or Neymar.
The latter was absent from training on Thursday. Gaultier said that this step has been taken as a precaution. Neymar, who damaged ligaments in his right ankle while playing at the World Cup with Brazil, will be rested against Châteauroux.
Embappé and Moroccan right-back Achraf Hakimi are on holiday in the United States this week after playing back-to-back games in the French league, shortly after returning from the World Cup.
Embappé was cheered by fans when he went to watch the Brooklyn Nets play in the NBA on Monday night. The star scored three goals for France in the World Cup final.