They won the final training match on Tuesday morning. Of course they did. During only his full second practice with the whole Paris Saint-Germain squad, Lionel Messi was on the winning side, and what teammates he had to work with: Keylor Navas, Neymar, Angel Di Maria, Julian Draxler and Kylian Mbappe. Their opponents, including Mauro Icardi, Marquinhos, Marco Verratti and Achraf Hakimi, could do nothing. Messi's team was not going to lose and the Argentine is already the King of the Camp des Loges, the Parisians' training ground. More importantly, Messi is finally feeling like a football player again.
After breaking the internet and every social media network with his sensational exit from Barcelona on Aug. 5, Messi's life is slowly returning to some kind of normality. His arrival in the French capital, the scenes at Le Bourget airport, at the Parc des Princes or even outside his luxurious hotel near the Champs Elysees, have impressed him. It's possible he didn't expect such a reception from the PSG fans, which makes sense: he'd never changed clubs in his entire career, making this a first for him.
The "Messimania" in Paris, in France and all around the world, has been huge. On Saturday, the Parc des Princes exploded for his presentation before the game against Strasbourg. The club put on a show, winning 4-2 after racing to a 3-0 lead, and Messi really appreciated it all.
The Messi family has always liked Paris a lot as a city. His wife, Antonela, has visited often in the past for some shopping or to attend Fashion Week, typically held in late-September/early-October. Together, they've taken their three boys, Thiago, Mateo and Ciro, to Disneyland Paris multiple times as well. For the past week, the six-time Ballon d'Or winning is discovering Paris as a football city and while he loves the passion and euphoria, he appreciates the quiet moments as well.
At the Le Royal Monceau hotel, where he is currently staying in a suite worth 20,000 euros a night, people leave him in peace. On Monday evening, when he and Antonela went out for the first time for dinner, just the two of them, they went to Cesar, one of the best Italian restaurants in the city -- and a place where PSG players and celebrities like to eat. They made the short trip from Avenue Hoche to Avenue de Wagram, on the other side of the Arc de Triomphe, and again, no-one bothered them apart from two young fans, for whom he signed autographs at the restaurant.
While he's adjusting to the city and its spoils, it's also time for him to get back to work.
On Sunday, he took part in a few "rondos" and then he humbled midfielder Idrissa Gueye at Teqball, the sport that combines soccer with table tennis and is played on a curved table. On Monday, his new teammates (or at least the ones who had never played with him before) got a little taste of Messi's talent during his first proper collective training session.
Even short of match fitness and after not having kicked a ball for more than a month since Argentina's Copa America win, Messi was amazing, impressing everyone. He was the "free player" in the main training drill, which meant he was playing for both teams during the little matches. It all looked easy to him, but he was fantastic.
On Tuesday, Mauricio Pochettino paired Messi with Mbappe in the 2-on-2 exercises. Let's say that they found each other very well and scored lots of goals. Then, they were both in the winning team for the final 6-on-6 drill, in what was the first time Neymar, Messi and Mbappe were actually playing together.
There were a lot of smiles and laughter on the pitch and in the dressing room, where Messi has found his place really easily. On Sunday, he naturally got invited to Ander Herrera's 32nd birthday party at the midfielder's house -- Neymar, Di Maria, Paredes, Navas, Marquinhos, Icardi and many others were there. Messi also loved the asado (the Argentine version of a barbecue) organised on Sunday at the training ground after training.
One thing's sure in the first week, though it's still early in his time at the club: Messi's arrival has already raised the effort levels at training. "Everyone wants to show him how good they are. Even in rondos, you can see the difference. He has lifted the level up and the buzz around the place is also incredible," a source told ESPN.
While Messi is happy at training and waiting to see when he will make his PSG debut -- most likely, he'll play his first minutes away to Reims on Aug. 29 -- there is also the more practical side of assimilating to a new team. Top of that list: finding a house for the family and a school for the children.
The Spanish school Federico Garcia Lorca, located not far from the Champs Elysees, could well welcome Thiago, Mateo and Ciro. In terms of housing, he wants something similar to the property he used to live in in Castelldefels with a swimming pool and a big garden; to find it, he'll have to go slightly outside Paris to a suburb like Neuilly or Bougival (the latter is where Neymar lives), though he could also decide to stay within the city limits.
Pepe Costa, his personal assistant who looked after him in Barcelona for many years, has (as was expected) joined him in Paris. In a bit of good fortune, Pepe should have no trouble getting good tips on life in Paris from his own son, Alvaro, who is Neymar's personal assistant. While he gets back to fitness, one thing's clear: Messi and his family are in good hands in Paris.