Lionel Messi arrived back at Paris Saint-Germain’s training ground on Wednesday to resume his day job, making a return to club football 17 days after claiming 2022 World Cup glory for Argentina as he was given a guard of honour by staff and his teammates.
Now that he’s successfully added soccer’s greatest prize to an honour roll that includes the Copa America, the Champions League, multiple league and cup titles and even Olympic gold, it may seem like there is no frontier left to conquer for Messi as he readies himself to return to action.
Messi — a seven-time winner of the Ballon d’Or on an individual level — has racked up 40 major honours in his career for club and country thus far, but there is still one outlier that remains unclaimed, at least for now.
As incredible as it may sound, there is only one major competition that Messi has played in and not won since he turned professional almost two decades ago: the Coupe de France.
The 35-year-old’s one appearance in the French cup — a penalty shootout loss in last season’s round of 16 to Nice, who lost the final to Nantes — means it is the only senior competition he has contested without eventually going on to win.
However, PSG are just half a dozen games away from being able to right that wrong, as Christophe Galtier’s side begin their 2022-23 Coupe de France campaign on Friday against La Berrichonne de Chateauroux in the round of 64.
Whether or not Messi makes his first post-World Cup club appearance against the third-tier side at the Stade Gaston Petit, he stands just six games from completing a phenomenal clean sweep. All that is required is for PSG to advance to the final — which they have done eight times in the past 12 years — and lift the trophy for a record-extending 15th time.
As things stand, Messi has won 11 of the 12 senior competitions he’s taken part in for club and country since his pro debut in 2004. That total rises to 12 of 13 if you include Argentina’s triumph at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games — though the men’s football tournament is officially designated as an under-23 competition, and so isn’t included here.