'It's a perfect evening' - Marquinhos salutes Mbappe and Di Maria on momentous day for PSG

By Sports Desk May 21, 2022

Marquinhos savoured a "perfect evening" for Paris Saint-Germain as Kylian Mbappe scored a hat-trick and Angel di Maria signed off in style in a 5-0 rout of Metz.

Mauricio Pochettino's side relegated Metz by dishing out on a thrashing in their final game of the season after Mbappe signed a new contract.

It was announced before kick-off at Parc des Princes on Saturday that France forward Mbappe had snubbed Real Madrid in favour of putting paper on a new three-year deal with the Ligue 1 champions.

Meanwhile Di Maria, who left the field in tears when substituted late on, marked his final appearance for the club after seven years in the French capital by rounding off the scoring.

Marquinhos told Prime Video Sport: "The tribute to Di Maria is deserved for everything he has done. Kylian [Mbappe] scores and announces his extension, it's a perfect evening."

And the skipper is well aware of the significance of keeping hold of Mbappe following so much talk that he was on his way to Madrid.

He added: "[Kylian] was strong; he didn't say anything, he showed nothing. When we were in the dressing room, this ceremony [when his new deal was revealed] boosted us for the game.

"[His extension] is a big step, but there is still a lot to do, we have to analyse what has been good and not so good this season."

Marquinhos also paid tribute to the outgoing Di Maria, who is heavily linked with a move to Serie A giants Juventus.

"[Angel is] a great, he's a gentleman. He's a big game player," he continued.

"He has always made a difference for us – me especially; he gave me a lot of passes. 

"It touches when you see players like that leave; it's part of my story here.  It hurts to see him go, we just have to thank him."

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    Few things will have made football fans feel stranger than seeing Lionel Messi wearing any other club shirt than that of Barcelona.

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    What could be stranger than that? Perhaps a Ballon d'Or shortlist of 30 names being released and not seeing Messi's among them?

    On Friday, that once ludicrous suggestion became reality as the nominees for the 2022 award were announced in batches of five, only the familiar mention of the seven-time winner never came.

    Of course, it was not especially a surprise. Messi struggled to make an impact at PSG after his free transfer to the Parc des Princes, scoring just six goals in 26 Ligue 1 games as his new team eased to the title, and a further five in seven Champions League outings.

    By comparison, Messi won last year's Ballon d'Or after scoring 30 goals in 35 LaLiga games in 2020-21, as well as three in the Copa del Rey and five in the Champions League for Barca.

    It still feels odd to see his name omitted, and Stats Perform has taken a trip down memory lane and looked at the last time Messi was not shortlisted for the prestigious award, all the way back in 2005.

    The master before the apprentice

    Before Messi, there was Ronaldinho, a player so captivating in 2005 he even earned a standing ovation at the Santiago Bernabeu from the Real Madrid fans for his performance in El Clasico.

    The Brazilian consistently wowed the crowds with his skill paired with dribbling prowess and the ability to change a game all on his own. 

    Unlike Messi, Ronaldinho did not earn plaudits for scoring incredible numbers of goals, more that he was generally a scorer of beautiful goals in important moments. Across league and Champions League, he scored 13 goals and recorded eight assists in 42 games for Barca in 2004-05.

    That season saw him star for Barca as he won his first LaLiga title, which included providing an assist as a very young Messi scored his first senior goal for the club against Albacete.

    Although Champions League glory would elude him until 2006, Ronaldinho still managed to make a mark even in Barca's first knockout round exit to Chelsea in 2005 as he scored both goals in the 4-2 second leg defeat at Stamford Bridge, including a delightful toe poke that flew past Petr Cech.

    For a player of his undoubted ability, it was a surprise that this was Ronaldinho's only Ballon d'Or, with Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro winning in 2006, Milan maestro Kaka doing so in 2007 and Cristiano Ronaldo lifting the first of many in 2008, starting the era of dominance between him and Messi.

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    Not all that far behind Ronaldinho in the voting back in 2005 were England midfield pair Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard.

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    Lampard was more of a net botherer though, scoring 13 goals and recording an impressive 18 assists in 38 league games for the Blues on their march to the title.

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    The little engine that would

    Little did the game know what was about to hit it.

    When Messi scored that goal against Albacete on May 1, 2005, it was the birth of a figure who would go on to become arguably the greatest footballer of all time.

    It must be said that the last time Messi was not on what was then a 50-man shortlist for the Ballon d'Or, he was just 18 years old, and had been just 17 when he netted his first goal for Barca.

    For the remainder of the year, Messi set about establishing himself as a key part of Barca's attack alongside Ronaldinho and Samuel Eto'o under the coaching of Frank Rijkaard.

    Messi scored six goals in 17 LaLiga appearances for the Blaugrana in 2005-06, as well as notching his first Champions League goal in a 5-0 win over Panathinaikos at the Camp Nou.

    In 2006, he was tied 20th in the voting for the Ballon d'Or and the rest, as they say, is history.

    Don't bet against seeing his name back on the shortlist in 2023, having already scored three goals in his first two games for PSG this season.

    There is also a World Cup on the horizon, after all.

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    He told reporters: "We are working hard and everyone at the club is very positive. Maybe not 100 per cent [of the players will be registered], but we are optimistic. We'll see. The club has signed very well, I am very excited about the players we have signed. We have time until tomorrow and now we are very optimistic."

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    Chelsea academy graduate made 30 appearances for Stefano Pioli's side in the Italian top flight last season, helping the champions keep 13 clean sheets.

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    The 24-year-old's new deal was announced on the eve of the champions' first game of the Serie A season against Udinese at San Siro on Saturday.

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