Lionel Messi was accused of giving Paris Saint-Germain manager Mauricio Pochettino the cold shoulder after the Argentine icon was substituted after 76 minutes of his home debut for the French giants.
Pochettino opted to replace Messi with Achraf Hakimi with the scores level at 1-1 against Lyon in Sunday night’s Ligue 1 clash at the Parc des Princes.
Lyon had taken a shock lead in the 54th minute when Lucas Paqueta ghosted into space to fire a low shot past Gianluigi Donnarumma at his near post.
The hosts equalized in front of an expectant home crowd through a contentious Neymar penalty in the 66th minute, after the Brazilian had been brought by Lyon’s Malo Gusto even though it looked like the PSG star had been man-handling his rival.
It was Neymar rather than Messi who converted the spot-kick, before the Argentine ace was replaced 10 minutes later.
The closest Messi had come to opening his PSG account in his third appearance for the club came in the first half when he rattled the crossbar with a trademark free-kick from range.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner also saw an effort well-saved by Lyon stopper Anthony Lopes when played in by Neymar.
When his number was up in the 76th minute, Messi’s body language as he walked past Pochettinto was soon picked up on by fans – with some claiming the unhappy star had snubbed his boss as he made his way past his compatriot.
This man removed Messi.
Pochettino won’t last at PSG. This is the craziest decision ever!
— BeksFCB (@Joshua_Ubeku) September 19, 2021
Not sure what Pochettino was thinking with that Lionel Messi substitute. It can’t be a power trip and it can’t be that Messi was tired. Pochettino has to be under some pressure at PSG even if they have won all of their matches. But the front three are slowly clicking.
— Roy Nemer (@RoyNemer) September 19, 2021
PSG fans seemed destined to be left disappointed for the second game in a row in which their team had lined up with all-star trio Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe up front.
The trident also started at the mid-week Champions League game against Club Brugge in Belgium, which ended 1-1.
However, Sunday concluded in different fashion as substitute Mauro Icardi – a replacement for fellow Argentine Angel Di Maria in the 82nd minute – headed home a pinpoint cross from Mbappe deep into injury time to give PSG a 2-1 victory.
The win keeps PSG top of the Ligue 1 table and unbeaten on a perfect 18 points from their six games, but with the caveat of fans pointing to early signs of potential trouble in the dynamic between the Messi and his manager Pochettino.