Paris Saint-Germain right-back Achraf Hakimi has conceded he was left surprised by the conduct of six-time Ballon D’or winner and new teammate Lionel Messi.
Messi shocked the footballing world when he called time on his 21-year career at La Liga giants Barcelona and upped sticks to the French capital on a free transfer after league rulings prevented his Camp Nou contract from being extended.
He has since made three appearances for the Parisian outfit but is yet to find the back of the net – a drought by his exceptional standards, and is currently nursing a knee injury that may rule him out of the huge Champions League clash with Manchester City this week.
Though he is still to open his PSG account, Messi has been the subject of praise from Hakimi in a recent interview with French outlet L’Equipe.
“For Messi to leave Barça, like everyone else, I didn’t expect it. And when I heard you were coming here, what can I say? A dream for me! I played with many great players and the only one I missed was Messi! I am proud to evolve with such a good footballer.
“To progress, I will pay attention to how he trains, how he plays. It will grow the team and each of the players that make it up. We speak the same language, in addition, little by little we are getting to know each other.”
Hakmi went on to admit he has been surprised by Messi’s demeanour, claiming: “Building a technical relationship with him is easy! I give him the ball, I run and he will put it where it belongs! (Laughs) I was surprised by the way he behaved, he is simple, quiet.”
Manager Mauricio Pochettino was asked about Messi’s injury before the Ligue 1 fixture against Metz, which the Argentine duly missed as a result of the knock to his knee.
“The club has already communicated Leo’s situation and it’s clear”, Pochettino said.
“We had seen that Messi was touching his knee. I’m very happy with what he did during the match [against Lyon]. After 75 minutes, taking into account the information we had, we made the decision [to bring him off].
“Messi is a great champion, and like all great champions, he didn’t want to come off. I’m happy with his commitment and his performance. He hasn’t scored yet, but he played very well.”