Lionel Messi to return to PSG lineup Saturday against Ajaccio: Christophe Galtier praises his ‘desire to play’

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Paris Saint-Germain head coach Christophe Galtier has confirmed that Lionel Messi will feature for the first time since he was suspended, fined and barred from club facilities for an unauthorized trip to Saudi Arabia with his family as part of a commercial contract. The French tactician was speaking on Friday ahead of Saturday’s Ligue 1 clash with AC Ajaccio and the 35-year-old is in line to return to action at Parc des Princes after his punishment was cut short by the French giants after a public apology.

“I spoke with Leo as soon as he returned on Tuesday to see how he was doing mentally,” said Galtier. “He was relaxed. I felt that he was determined to play from our discussions and motivated to win another French title. Yes, he will start on Saturday — I felt it from his determination to work.

“Leo is Leo and I do not need to tell you about his very interesting statistics. We saw the team express themselves well in Troyes and I will stick with that while integrating Leo. As for the sanctions, like I said at the time, I will not be commenting. That said, it is a pleasure to welcome Leo back to training. He showed a lot of determination and desire to play.”

Messi’s reception and whether he would even feature for PSG again or not has been a hot topic of debate since his Saudi stunt but the Argentina FIFA 2022 World Cup winner should be afforded a less venomous welcome at Parc des Princes given that there will be no ultras present. Les Parisiens’ most loyal fan group announced earlier this week after a meeting with the club that they are ceasing any and all activity linked to PSG until further notice with relations at an all-time low after vociferous recent protests over club leadership.

“It is never pleasurable to receive news like this,” said Galtier of the ultras disbanding indefinitely effective immediately. “We know that they are important supporters who greatly improve the atmosphere at home and on the road. I will not comment on the decision, but there will be other fans present. I think that exchanges and discussions could present solutions so that we get back to normal. It is unfortunate, though.”

Messi is in the confirmed PSG squad to face relegation threatened Ajaccio on Saturday with the capital club hoping to take one more step towards what would be an historic 11th Ligue 1 title if they can get it over the line.

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