Messi’s ‘strict’ shirt swap rules as he appears to reject Reims ace on PSG debut

Messi appeared to turn down Mitchell Van Bergen’s request for a shirt swap at the Stade Auguste Delaune, where the former Barcelona superstar made his debut for PSG

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Messi’s PSG debut analysed by Pochettino

Lionel Messi’s strict shirt swap rules have re-emerged after he appeared to reject Reims star Mitchell van Bergen following his debut for Paris Saint-Germain.

The Argentine superstar surprisingly departed Barcelona ahead of the start of the new season, moving for a bumper contract in the French capital.

He has been forced to wait for his debut as he regains fitness though, having missed all of pre-season after the saga of his contract with La Liga giants Barca.

That moment finally came on Sunday night in Reims, with Messi replacing Neymar with 14 minutes remaining as PSG secured a 2-0 win at the Stade Auguste Delaune.

Lionel Messi has strict rules about swapping his shirt

Kylian Mbappe scored both of the visitors’ goals, one either side of half-time, to send them two points clear in the Ligue 1 table.

But Messi was caught up in mild controversy following the game, when he appeared to turn down Van Bergen’s request for his shirt.

The winger had approached him and spoken to him, even gesturing towards the PSG star’s shirt before Messi headed off towards the tunnel.

Messi’s apparent snub have prompted questions over what his criteria is to take part in a shirt swap, with his status in football making his one of the most in demand.

Speaking to Argentine TV earlier this year, Messi appeared to hint that he will only swap shirts with Argentine players.

“I don’t ask for shirts, I usually swap them, but I asked Zidane once,” he told Messi told Argentine channel TyC Sports.

“If there is an Argentine I swap it with him, but, unless someone asks me, I’m not asking anyone.”

Photos that the superstar has posted on social media of his personal collection would appear to confirm that stance.

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Messi refused Reims star Mitchell van Bergen’s request for a shirt swap on Sunday

It features shirts from several Argentine stars, including Angel Di Maria, Sergio Aguero, Manuel Lanzini and Diego Milito.

It seems that he does make exceptions though, with shirts from legends of the game such as Gianluigi Buffon, Philipp Lahm and Francesco Totti also part of his collection.

Messi’s apparent stance would certainly explain what happened on Sunday night following PSG’s victory in Reims.

Van Bergen is Dutch, and is capped for the country at Under-21 level, and is clearly not yet a legend of the game.

It is not the first time that Messi has turned down a shirt swap, with Bayern Munich and Canadian international Alphonso Davies failing with his request in August 2020.

Messi did show his class by signing a fan’s banner in Reims on Sunday and also posed for a picture with the child of home goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic after the match.

PSG fans will have to wait a few weeks more before they see Messi making his home debut, with the superstar heading to Argentina for international duty.

Their next game in Ligue 1 will come on 12 September against Clermont Foot at the Parc Des Princes, with Messi likely to make his first start for his new club.

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