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Messi & Co unveiled ahead of PSG match

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PARIS, Aug 14 (Reuters) – Paris St Germain presented Lionel Messi to fans inside the Parc des Princes stadium ahead of their Ligue 1 clash with Strasbourg on Saturday, but the Argentine was not included in the squad for the match.

Messi took to the field pre-match along with fellow new recruits Sergio Ramos, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Achraf Hakimi and Georginio Wijnaldum, and spoke to the raucous crowd.

“It has been a very special week for me,” he said. “I want to thank everyone for the reception since I arrived in Paris. It has been truly incredible. I feel very happy and excited.

“I hope together we can enjoy this year and make it a great year for us. I am very excited about everything.”

Italy goalkeeper Donnarumma and veteran defender Ramos were also not included. Hakimi and Wijnaldum were selected to start.

Messi joined PSG this week on a two-year contract with the option of extending it by another year after Barcelona said they could not afford to keep him because of LaLiga’s financial fair play rules.

Not yet fully fit, Messi, along with Neymar and fellow new recruits Gianluigi Donnarumma and Sergio Ramos, did not make the match squad, but saw his new club take an early lead through Mauro Icardi at Parc des Princes.

Kylian Mbappe then doubled PSG’s advantage in the 25th minute after his shot was deflected home, before the France international’s cross was turned in by Julian Draxler two minutes later to put the hosts 3-0 up. 

However, second-half goals from Kevin Gameiro and Ludovic Ajorque got the visitors back into the contest, with PSG looking uneasy in possession.

Alexander Djiku’s dismissal for two bookable offences let PSG off the hook nine minutes from time, with substitute Pablo Sarabia tapping home at the back post in the 86th minute to make sure of the unconvincing victory for Mauricio Pochettino’s side.

Reporting by Peter Hall, editing by Pritha Sarkar