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PARIS — Paris Saint-Germain coach Christophe Galtier hopes World Cup winner Lionel Messi is ready to play in the French league match against Angers at home next Wednesday.

Messi returned home for an extended break after leading Argentina to World Cup glory in Qatar, scoring twice in a wild final on December 18.

“He was delighted and maybe even a little touched by this applause,” Gaultier said Thursday. “We are lucky to have a player like him.”

Gaultier said the record-breaking seven-time Ballon d’Or winner was ill-equipped to start Friday’s French Cup match at the third-tier Chateauroux.

“Leo trained yesterday and today. Obviously he won’t play tomorrow. He had an extraordinary World Cup with a lot of physical effort and challenges,” said Galtier. “After talking with him, he’s trying to get ready for the next fight. Let’s see. I hope he’s ready for (Angier).”

Châteauroux is 14th in the third-division National League, but at least he doesn’t have to face Messi, Kylian Mbappe or Neymar.

Neymar missed Thursday’s training. Gaultier said it was purely a precautionary measure and that Neymar, who injured ligaments in his right ankle while playing for Brazil at the World Cup, will be resting for Châteauroux.

Mbappe and Moroccan right-back Achraf Hakimi are on vacation in the United States this week after playing a back-to-back French league game right after returning from the World Cup.

Mbappe, who scored a hat-trick for France in the World Cup final, was greeted with thunderous applause from fans when he attended the Brooklyn Nets game in the NBA on Monday night.

Other AP Soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports



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