Football: Messi unveiled ahead of PSG match but is not included in match squad

Paris Saint-Germain's new recruit Lionel Messi greets fans during a presentation prior to the team's Ligue 1 match against Strasbourg. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

PARIS (REUTERS) - Paris St Germain presented Lionel Messi to fans inside the Parc des Princes stadium ahead of their Ligue 1 clash with Strasbourg on Saturday (Aug 14), but the Argentine was not included in the squad for the match.

Messi took to the field pre-match along with fellow new recruits Sergio Ramos, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Achraf Hakimi and Georginio Wijnaldum, and spoke to the raucous crowd.

"It has been a very special week for me," he said.

"I want to thank everyone for the reception since I arrived in Paris. It has been truly incredible. I feel very happy and excited.

"I hope together we can enjoy this year and make it a great year for us. I am very excited about everything."

As expected, Messi was not named in the match squad after coach Mauricio Pochettino said this week that the 34-year-old is not yet fully fit.

Italy goalkeeper Donnarumma and veteran defender Ramos were also not included. Hakimi and Wijnaldum were selected to start.

Messi joined PSG this week on a two-year contract with the option of extending it by another year after Barcelona said they could not afford to keep him because of LaLiga's financial fair play rules.

He watched on from the stands as PSG made hard work of beating Strasbourg 4-2.

They took an early lead through Mauro Icardi. Kylian Mbappe then doubled PSG's advantage in the 25th minute after his shot was deflected home, before the France international's cross was turned in by Julian Draxler two minutes later to put the hosts 3-0 up.

However, second-half goals from Kevin Gameiro and Ludovic Ajorque got the visitors back into the contest, with PSG looking uneasy in possession.

Alexander Djiku's dismissal for two bookable offences let PSG off the hook nine minutes from time, with substitute Pablo Sarabia tapping home at the back post in the 86th minute to make sure of the unconvincing victory for Pochettino's side.

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