The hero has returned. After a deservedly lengthy break celebrating an historic World Cup victory that all-but confirms his status as the greatest of all time in many fans' eyes, Lionel Messi has reported for Paris Saint-Germain duty.

The 35-year-old led his nation to glory in Qatar last month with seven goals from seven matches including a brace in the final to defeat France.


Watch TNT Sports' unbeatable line-up of world-class live sport for just £29.99 a month.

It means Messi landed the one trophy that has eluded him throughout his career and undoubtedly the one that will have meant the most.

Now though, his focus will return to club football where he is back training with PSG.

The defending French champions are reportedly poised to tie Messi down to a one-year contract extension that would see him stay until 2024.

And with a lead of only four points at the top of Ligue 1 following a shock home defeat to Lens over the weekend, Messi's return couldn't come soon enough.

Messi's first game back in club colours will likely be Wednesday's home clash against Angers, exclusively live on BT Sport.

There have been concerns that Messi will not receive a hero's welcome from the PSG crowd after denying the Parisiens a World Cup to toast by defeating France on penalties in the final.

But PSG boss Christophe Galtier moved to allay those fears on Monday, saying: “Obviously he will be well received at home. On the reception at the stadium, I have no doubt that he will be well received at Parc des Princes.

“He won the most beautiful of trophies by being very good in this World Cup. Above all, now that he has achieved this incredible goal, we must remember what he has done since the start of the season with the team.”

And clips have since emerged on social media of PSG supporters waiting outside the club's training base for the return of the Argentine, ready to toast the World Cup winner.

Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe
Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe resume their relationship as teammates at PSG

The other concern raised was Messi's relationship with Kylian Mbappe, his PSG team-mate, being affected by their respective exploits in Qatar.

The two great players went toe-to-toe in a spectacular World Cup final as Messi's brace was responded to with Mbappe's incredible hat-trick.

With Neymar completing the most glitzy frontline in football, there's always been issues with egos at Paris and Mbappe's lengthy flirtation with Real Madrid and subsequent re-signing at PSG was surely motivated by this.

But there's been no indication that there will be anything but a healthy rivalry between Mbappe and Messi when the latter returns, despite some of the more egregious celebrations taking aim at Mbappe by Argentina's squad.

Messi's first season in France was extremely underwhelming, particularly when given the ridiculously lofty standards set by the Argentine at previous club Barcelona.

Only 11 goals in 34 appearances for PSG in all competitions was a paltry total and an exit to Real Madrid in the Champions League last 16 added further disappointment. 

But the 2022/23 campaign saw Messi arrive with a renewed vigour individually and 12 goals from 19 appearances prior to the World Cup break will have left PSG fans delighted.

Those 12 strikes included a brilliant overhead kick in PSG's Ligue 1 opener against Clermont in August, one of two goals netted by the forward that day.

A mural of Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi
Messi has now done what Maradona achieved - win the World Cup

It's the sort of form Galtier will be desperate for Messi to continue as the Frenchman hopes to become the first man to lead PSG to the Champions League this term.

PSG take on Bayern Munich in the last 16 of the competition with the first leg on February 14, the team who defeated them on their only trip to the Champions League final back in 2020.

For PSG owner Nasser Al-Khelaifi, the Champions League will undoubtedly be the one trophy he covets the most, the trophy that would truly announce the French champions among the European elite

Just as Messi managed with the World Cup last month, PSG will be hoping he'll work wonders once again and bring home the one trophy that has eluded them this campaign.