Lionel Messi has been backed to become the best player in the world once again by Paris Saint-Germain boss Christophe Galtier following the Argentine icon's performance against Nice.
Despite having played for his country in New York in the early hours of Thursday morning French time, Messi started the Round 9 match at the Parc des Princes, opening the scoring with a trademark free-kick in PSG's 2-1 win.
"I get an immense amount of enjoyment watching him every morning in training. He's in a good frame of mind, very happy. He's a very unselfish player, who dictates the play and who has always scored goals. He's got a taste for scoring again," explained Galtier after seeing Messi net his fifth league goal of the season, just one shy of his tally for the entire 2021/22 campaign.
"Yes, if he's in incredible form," replied Galtier when asked whether the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner could become the world's best player again. "He's well prepared. He's happy. And when he's happy, he performs."
Messi was one of the only PSG players to stand out as Nice often frustrated the hosts, even pegging them back early in the second half through Gaëtan Laborde's first goal for them since joining from Rennes.
But Kylian Mbappé, rested at kick-off, came off the bench to replace Hugo Ekitike on the hour mark and scored seven minutes from time to take unbeaten PSG back to the top of the table, two points clear of Marseille who had beaten Angers 3-0 24 hours earlier.
"It's always the case with this kind of match after the international breaks, when many players have travelled and played a lot. We have a very busy schedule with very high objectives, and I decided to start with this eleven to bring freshness but also so that my players can really be a part of this squad," Galtier, whose side now travel to Lisbon for Wednesday's UEFA Champions League group stage meeting with Benfica, told PSG's official website.
"In the first half there were some interesting things - even though we didn't create many situations - but there were some interesting things. And suddenly, at the beginning of the second half, we came in sluggish, without energy, without rhythm or intensity and we let Nice, who played a good match, have a monopoly on the game.
"And then we got into trouble by chasing the ball, by not winning our challenges, by not playing the ball out as we should have done. And deservedly, Nice equalised. We had to put in more energy, more speed and depth.
"I am satisfied with Hugo Ekitiké's first match. In a difficult context and against a very compact defence, he worked a lot for the team and made sure he had good technical relationships with his partners. But as soon as we got our attacking trio back together, it put more pressure on the opposition defence, we played the ball out better and we created the chances that allowed us to win."