“Ligue 1 is not as easy as people think”, according to Cesc Fabregas, who has insisted that Lionel Messi’s arrival at Paris Saint-Germain does not guarantee them the title.
Messi was forced to call time on his illustrious 21-year career at Barcelona last week as the club announced that they were unable to re-sign the 34-year-old due to the current wage limit in La Liga.
PSG subsequently swooped in to sign Messi on a free transfer, completing a star-studded squad that also contains the likes of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Sergio Ramos, but Fabregas has warned that it is by no means a forgone conclusion that they will dominate the French top-flight in 2021-22.
The Monaco midfielder, who played alongside Messi at Barca between 2011 and 2014, has told The Guardian: “When PSG don’t win the league everyone sees it as a disaster because they spend a lot of money.
“Everyone takes it that this is a one-team league but in the last five years they’ve won three because Lille and Monaco have also won the title and put the brakes on their winning streak.
“It is a competitive league. It is not as easy as people think. It’s very aggressive, very intensive, very fast with strong players who defend very well.”
Fabregas went on to express his belief that PSG’s main goal won’t be to wrestle the Ligue 1 crown back from Lille now that Messi is on board, with a first-ever Champions League crown deemed to be more important for an ambitious outfit.
“I’m sure as a coach [Mauricio] Pochettino prefers to have a fantastic squad with a lot of pressure on himself knowing he needs to win than the other way around,” he added. “They must have pressure when they create a super team like that. It’s obvious they want to win the Champions League.
“They’ve been trying to catch it for a very long time and it seems like this is the last push – like, there is nothing better than Lionel Messi, there is no better defender than Ramos, [Georginio] Wijnaldum is one of the best midfielders at the moment, [Achraf] Hakimi is one of the best right-backs in Europe.
‘It feels like they are doing the little extra final push to see where it takes them. We will see.”
Fabregas on Messi’s welcome in Paris
Messi was greeted by thousands of PSG supporters at both the airport and Parc des Princes after touching down in France on Tuesday, with Fabregas of the opinion that the six-time Ballon d’Or winner is the only active player that commands such a following wherever he goes.
The ex-Barca star has suggested that Messi is oblivious to just how popular he is across the globe, while predicting that PSG’s fanbase will grow exponentially now that they have the Argentine on their books.
“Sometimes I tell Leo he doesn’t know how big he is,” said Fabregas. “He goes to places and thinks the reaction is normal because he has been raised being the best and has been always surrounded by fans.
“But when you see it from the outside it is something I’ve not seen around anyone else. Sometimes there are more followers of Leo as a person than for a single club.
“A lot of people now will be following Ligue 1, especially with Leo there. The three of them, with Neymar and [Kylian] Mbappé there, will be fantastic to watch.”