5 things we noticed about Lionel Messi's return to PSG, including Kylian Mbappe's absence
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Lionel Messi received a guard of honour as he made his return to Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday – and we spotted a number of interesting details throughout, including the reaction of Ethan Mbappe.
After helping Argentina lift a historic World Cup last month, Messi was handed a well-deserved 10-day break by the Ligue 1 champions.
During that time, the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner celebrated with his La Albiceleste teammates on an open-top bus parade before being mobbed by thousands of fans in his hometown of Rosario.
And now, the former Barcelona forward has returned to Les Parisiens' training base ahead of their Coupe de France clash against Chateauroux on Friday.
So what did we notice from Messi's return?
Ethan Mbappe's reaction to Lionel Messi's guard of honour
As you can see in the footage above, a group of PSG players and staff welcomed Messi back with a warm round of applause, although some fans were quick to point out the reaction of Kylian Mbappe's brother, Ethan, who joined the French club in the same summer as his older sibling.
One fan commented on the clip, saying: "Ethan Mbappe's face tells it all. No smiles," while another said: "Ethan Mbappe looked gassed to see Messi..."
A third wrote: "Ethan Mbappe's reaction is quite funny. He's not here to shake hands with Messi."
Ethan Mbappe looking at Messi like🤨😏 pic.twitter.com/rBS4ahCwFV— Albanus 10 (@Kiswili_10) January 4, 2023
Kylian Mbappe's absence from the training session explained
A number of players in the Paris Saint-Germain squad were granted leave following their disappointing 3-1 defeat to Lens on Sunday, including Kylian Mbappe.
The 24-year-old, who scored a hat-trick for France in their heartbreaking defeat to Argentina in last month's World Cup final, has used his "few days off" to visit New York.
He was joined by PSG teammate Achraf Hakimi and on Monday night, the pair were spotted watching NBA side Brooklyn Nets beat San Antonio Spurs.
In fact, Mbappe was given an incredible reception by fans inside the stadium after he was shown on the big screen.
Lionel Messi received an award after being given a guard of honour
After being applauded for his efforts, Messi was handed a gold-plated award from an official at Paris Saint-Germain to commemorate last month's World Cup triumph.
The Argentine proceeded to pose for pictures with the trophy.
One fan reacted to the moment, saying: "Leo Messi is already winning awards in 2023 without even hitting the field," while another commented: "GOAT things."
Reunited with Neymar, who was so happy for his teammate
Neymar was quick to congratulate Messi on social media after his efforts in Qatar and on Wednesday morning, he looked delighted for his former Barcelona teammate as he was given the guard of honour.
In fact, pictures soon emerged of the pair embracing inside PSG's training facility.
One fan commented on the reaction of Neymar to Messi's return, saying: "The way he can't stop smiling, jumping and can barely stay put in his place like he just loves him so much. MY HEART." while another said: "Neymar looks so happy for Messi. I love this duo."
A third wrote: "I can tell Neymar missed Messi more than anyone in PSG’s squad. I can’t wait to watch these two incredible talents."
Brighton's welcome back party for Alexis Mac Allister was on another level to Messi's.
Messi's return was a wholesome one but Brighton gave World Cup winner Alexis Mac Allister a ticker-tape reception to remember when he touched down at the club's state-of-the-art training facility.
The heartwarming welcome featured a lengthy applause from teammates and staff for the 24-year-old, who was wearing his winner’s medal throughout.
He later embraced his colleagues before lifting a replica of the FIFA World Cup trophy.
After the footage went viral, Argentina teammate Messi commented on the scenes by posting five clapping emojis on the video of his return.
Welcoming back our World Cup winner! 🙏 pic.twitter.com/Bb2MoZmf2B— Brighton & Hove Albion (@OfficialBHAFC) January 2, 2023
Brighton manager Roberto De Zerbi praised midfielder Mac Allister by claiming that Messi appreciates just how good his Argentina teammate is.
"Messi and Mac Allister speak the same [football] language and Messi understands very well the quality of Alexis," he said ahead of their Carabao Cup round of 16 clash with Charlton.
"If you watch the game, Messi was looking for Alexis lots of times and they made a lot of passes to each other. Alexis was always giving back to Messi a clean pass."