Paris Saint-Germain will challenge Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe to follow their phenomenal World Cup exploits by delivering a Champions League title in the new year.
The Qatari-owned club have European glory in their sights and a tough round of 16 tie awaits them against Bayern Munich, with games against the German champions in February and March.
After seeing Mbappe win the Golden Boot as top scorer and Messi take the Ballon d’Or award as the best player, PSG undoubtedly had a strong World Cup.
The sight of Mbappe and Messi in opposition with France and Argentina, as they were in Sunday’s World Cup final, will soon be replaced by them uniting on the pitch, possibly even at the end of the month.
PSG have a Ligue 1 game against Strasbourg on December 28 and it remains to be seen whether coach Christophe Galtier will have both men available for that game as Messi is on his way back to celebrate Argentina in the coming days .
In a flurry of messages on social media, PSG addressed the two protagonists of the final, with Messi scoring twice to lift the trophy, while Mbappe hit a hat-trick but finished on the losing side.
“An extraordinary final from our two Parisians,” the club said. “One of them had to win. You will forever go down in football history, @leomessi.
“What a final! Bravo @leomessi, thank you @k.mbappe for all these emotions. You have been heroic. You have marked this World Cup with your talent. You should be proud.”
Whatever French envy there may have been towards Messi was soon to subside, with a photograph of Mbappe and Messi touching hands during the match receiving plenty of love from PSG’s players.
Clubmates Nuno Mendes and Danilo Pereira both posted the photo and added emojis of clapping hands.
Midfielder Marco Verratti addressed Messi’s success, writing on Instagram: “You deserve it mate. Congratulations.”
To Mbappe, Verratti wrote: “Keep your head up. You showed the whole world that you are a phenomenon.”
“Congratulations” was the message from defender Juan Bernat to Messi and “Bravo to you too” he said to Mbappe.
Former PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino praised Argentina coach Scaloni, saying in a message to his compatriot: “Congratulations Lionel. Thank you!”
Addressing Messi, Pochettino added: “Deserved @leomessi. Thank you!”
PSG have never won the Champions League and it is football’s holy grail for them now that every up-and-coming manager knows that winning silverware alone does not count as fulfilling the task at hand.
They came closest in 2020, losing in the final to Bayern, for whom Frenchman Kingsley Coman scored the only goal in Lisbon. Coman was one of two French players to miss from the spot in Sunday’s penalty shootout at the World Cup, along with Aurelien Tchouameni.
Given the outstanding form displayed by Messi and Mbappe over the past month, PSG may never be better placed to make a push for continental glory.
Yet there is another matter brewing, namely that Messi and Mbappe may be at the end of their club alliance.
With Messi’s two-year contract at PSG expiring at the end of this season, removing uncertainty over his future could become as big a priority as the next trophy.
President Nasser Al-Khelaifi said in early December that the matter would be discussed after the World Cup, where Messi had been linked with a possible move to Inter Miami at the end of the season.