Kylian Mbappe absent for World Cup rival Lionel Messi’s PSG homecoming

Lionel Messi was given a guard of honour on his return to Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday - but his PSG teammate and World Cup rival Kylian Mbappe was nowhere to be seen.

Messi received a hero’s welcome at PSG’s training base in Poissy two and a half weeks after captaining Argentina to the World Cup in Qatar. The 24-year-old Mbappe, who is widely considered Messi’s successor as the next dominant individual in the game, scored a hat-trick for France in the final and converted in the penalty shootout too, but it was not enough to deny the 35-year-old Messi World Cup glory at the fifth and final attempt.

After time spent celebrating in Argentina, Messi was greeted with hugs by teammates such as Italian midfielder Marco Verratti and Brazilians Marquinhos and Neymar on his return to Paris. But Mbappe was not there to see him after being granted leave by manager Christophe Galtier, along with friend and fellow PSG teammate Achraf Hakimi who reached the World Cup third-place playoff with Morocco.

“Hakimi and Mbappe will have a few days off," Galtier confirmed following PSG’s defeat to title rivals Lens on the weekend. "The plan was that they could play these two games [after the World Cup]. They will now recover."

Mbappe and Hakimi were at an NBA basketball game in New York on Monday where they met Brooklyn Nets stars like Kevin Durant in the dressing room after the event.

Lionel Messi pictured celebrating World Cup glory in Argentina (Reuters)
Lionel Messi pictured celebrating World Cup glory in Argentina (Reuters)

The duo are set to return to Paris ahead of the Ligue 1 match against Rennes on 15 January. Messi, who was handed a small trophy by the club’s sporting director Luis Campos ahead of his first training session as a World Cup winner, will now be integrated back into the team and could be in contention for their Ligue 1 fixture against Angers on 11 January.

Defeat to Lens dented PSG’s league lead but they remain four points clear at the summit.

While Kylian Mbappe wasn’t in attendance, his younger brother Ethan was spotted among the PSG players applauding Messi. Ethan Mbappe joined PSG aged 11 at the same time as his old brother moved from Monaco to Paris on an initial loan which would later be made permanent. He made his senior debut in a friendly against Paris FC last month, two days before the World Cup final.