Thomas Tuchel said he was "totally happy" with Mauro Icardi after Paris Saint-Germain's comfortable win over Monaco on Wednesday.

Icardi was substituted during the second half of the 4-1 victory, in which Kylian Mbappe scored a brace to go with Neymar's penalty and a Pablo Sarabia goal.

But Tuchel praised the forward, who has scored 17 goals in 21 games during his loan spell from Inter, despite his quieter display.

"He is used to touching just a few balls per game. We have Angel [Di Maria], Neymar, Kylian who touch many balls, so it's a good mix," the PSG head coach told a news conference.

"Mauro is used to working for us, staying in the spaces with discipline and creating some spaces for his team-mates which is important for us.

"Now he didn't score in his last two games, but he worked defensively so much. It was very important and impressive. No doubt of Mauro.

"We decided to let Kylian and Neymar as strikers for 70 minutes to use the speed of those two on counter-attacks and stay dangerous on our offensive transitions, but I am totally happy with Mauro."

Di Maria was also unable to get on the scoresheet against Monaco, but the attacker provided an assist for Mbappe.

The 31-year-old was also hailed by Tuchel as PSG moved eight points clear atop the Ligue 1 table.

"During the first half [Di Maria] was exceptional without the ball. He won many challenges and helped everyone," Tuchel said.

"I am very happy he made one or two assists. During previous games he made a lot of the last passes before the assist.

"So it's like that with him, when we want something special from him he always gives a lot of intensity. Sometimes he gives too much and loses his patience to find quick solutions, but he runs and finds intensity.

"As I said, during the first half he had an exceptional game to win a lot of balls and challenges. It was good."

Thomas Tuchel has acknowledged there could be departures in January, but is hoping Edinson Cavani will stay put, while Kylian Mbappe insists there is more to Paris Saint-Germain than a fearsome front four.

Cavani missed Wednesday's 4-1 win over Monaco due to injury, with the 32-year-old having been restricted to nine Ligue 1 appearances this season, scoring twice.

His absence was not felt as Kylian Mbappe netted twice, with Neymar also on target from the spot and substitute Pablo Sarabia getting in on the act at Stade Louis II.

With PSG's first-choice front four of Neymar, Mbappe, Mauro Icardi and Angel Di Maria in such fine form, Cavani – the club's record goalscorer – is reportedly keen on a move away from Parc des Princes this month.

However, Tuchel is adamant he wants Cavani to remain as part of his squad, though conceded the ultimate decision may rest with the player.

"If there can be departures and arrivals in the group? It's still possible in football, I can't say," Tuchel told Canal +.

"Cavani? We have to ask Edi the question. He is injured. He felt something in training and he couldn't be there.

"If I want him to stay? It's better, to achieve our goals, to have him, yes."

Cavani's impact this season may have been limited, but Mbappe has had no such issues, with the 21-year-old netting his 21st and 22nd goals of the season in all competitions on Wednesday.

Mbappe was assisted by Di Maria for his first and Neymar for his second, though he believes the rest of PSG's team – outside of their star-studded attacking line up – do not get the credit they deserve.

"We talk too much about the front four," Mbappe told Canal +. "We wanted to show that we are really a good team.

"Having matches of this intensity makes us feel good, we are happy. I think we talk a little too much about the front four, that we are a team of four but we play with eleven! "

Kylian Mbappe scored twice as Paris Saint-Germain returned to winning ways in Ligue 1 with a 4-1 victory over Monaco in a match marred by contentious VAR decisions.

Three days after their teams played out a 3-3 draw at Parc des Princes, coaches Thomas Tuchel and Robert Moreno clashed on the touchline at Stade Louis II in a rearranged match. 

An end-to-end start was capped off by Mbappe resuming his scoring run, though VAR should have awarded Monaco a penalty shortly after the restart.

Monaco's frustration with the officiating was compounded in first-half stoppage time as Neymar scored his second penalty in as many matches after a blatant dive from Layvin Kurzawa.

Pablo Sarabia's strike increased PSG's lead - though only after a VAR review - with Tiemoue Bakayoko scuffing in a consolation goal before Mbappe doubled his tally in stoppage time.

Both teams picked up where they left off after Sunday's thrilling encounter in Paris, Keylor Navas and Benjamin Lecomte making excellent stops before Mbappe slotted home in the 24th minute.

A lengthy VAR check for a possible foul and offside frustrated PSG, and Gelson Martins would have equalised immediately if not for Navas, though the hosts were furious that they were not awarded a penalty for an apparent handball by Presnel Kimpembe prior to the shot.

And, after Lecomte had made a fantastic save from Mbappe and Colin Dagba had a goal disallowed for offside, Monaco felt let down by more poor officiating.

Kamil Glik stood his ground heading into a challenge with Kurzawa, who clearly initiated the contact on the byline, yet VAR did not overturn the referee's decision to award PSG a penalty, which Neymar converted.

Wissam Ben Yedder should have done better at the end of a superb move midway through the second half, but the contest was settled when Sarabia volleyed in a minute after coming on.

Navas' mistake did allow Bakayoko to bundle in a deserved goal for Monaco, yet it was Mbappe who had the final say when he raced through to add his second, this time celebrating against his former club after not doing so first time around.

Edinson Cavani has been left out of Paris Saint-Germain's squad for Wednesday's Ligue 1 visit to Monaco.

Cavani will miss out due to a groin complaint but his absence comes amid reports Atletico Madrid are stepping up efforts to sign the Uruguay striker.

The 32-year-old is PSG's all-time record goalscorer but has fallen behind Mauro Icardi in the pecking order at the Parc des Princes this season.

Midfielder Leandro Paredes will also miss the rescheduled match due to an ankle problem.

Cavani and Paredes both appeared as late substitutes when PSG shared a thrilling 3-3 draw with Monaco in Paris on Sunday.

Paris Saint-Germain have handed defender Marquinhos a new four-and-a-half-year contract.

The Brazil international has committed to the French champions until 2024, a two-year extension to his current deal.

Marquinhos is the club's vice-captain behind compatriot and fellow centre-back Thiago Silva.

He joined the club from Roma in July 2013 and has helped PSG to five Ligue 1 titles over that span.

The club confirmed the extension on Monday, calling him "one of the most successful players in the history of Paris Saint-Germain".

Marquinhos said: "Paris and PSG have every argument for me to stay here and extend my contract.

"It's an ambitious club that still wants to do great things, making football and club history.

"Then there's the city side, the family side. My family is really very, very good here.

"I really feel at home here, I've got everything I need right here, and so that's why the choice is quick.

"This is the seventh season. Six-and-a-half years since I signed, I look back and see how much PSG and I have accomplished.

"We've done great things. I think it's really a very special club. We just have to keep living this beautiful story together."

Marquinhos, who has also won four Coupe de France trophies and five Coupe de la Ligue medals, has racked up 270 appearances for PSG, chipping in with 20 goals and providing seven assists.

PSG signed midfielder Marco Verratti to a new long-term deal in October and are in negotiations with attacking star Kylian Mbappe as they bid to tie down the core of their team.

An exasperated Thomas Tuchel accepted he no longer knows the offside rules after he was left baffled by the decision to allow Islam Slimani's Monaco equaliser to stand during Paris Saint-Germain's 3-3 draw on Sunday.

During a thrilling encounter at the Parc des Princes, PSG took an early lead through Neymar, only to then fall behind to strikes from Gelson Martins and Wissam Ben Yedder – the latter netting in the 13th minute.

The pendulum swung back in PSG's favour thanks to a Fode Ballo Toure own goal and Neymar's penalty just prior to the break, but controversially Monaco sealed a share of the spoils in Robert Moreno's first Ligue 1 game as coach 20 minutes from time.

Gelson's shot found its way to the seemingly offside Slimani via a touch from Marquinhos that was deemed to be deliberate, and the on-loan Leicester City striker swept home – VAR ruling in the visitors' favour after the assistant initially ruled it out.

Tuchel was bemused by the situation.

"The third goal… I don't, I can't understand," Tuchel said in his post-match news conference. "Really, why is it not offside?

"Everybody said to me that it is the new rule. Okay - after that, I have to say that I don't understand the rules, but it doesn't help."

Tuchel suggested before the match he was considering deploying Marquinhos – normally a centre-back – in midfield, but in the end he opted to select the Brazilian in defence, with Idrissa Gueye partnering Marco Verratti.

It was put to Tuchel that Gueye and Verratti might not be entirely compatible, while the German explained he played Marquinhos at the back due to recent injury problems in that position.

In a prickly response, Tuchel said: "Do you think differently, that they [Gueye and Verratti] are not complementary? Do you think I would start the two if I thought they're not complementary? Doesn't make sense right?

"For me, Marquinhos can play both positions at an unbelievable level. He is a world-class player in both positions.

"Recently we've some troubles [in defence], because Presnel [Kimpembe] was injured for a few weeks, Thilo Kehrer was injured for a long time, he's already played twice, so it was not the moment for him to play a third time, Abdou Diallo was not available and it was the first game for Thiago Silva.

"That's why we used Marquinhos, because it was the logical solution for this game, but for me, it's still possible to play with Marquinhos in midfield, because he gives the team some quality, a lot of energy and personality.

"It was necessary for me to find a solution like that [against Monaco] because my three central defenders are injured, or just got back from injuries. It was logical."

PSG remain in charge at the Ligue 1 summit with 46 points from 19 matches, five clear of Marseille. Monaco are eighth.

Barcelona appear ready to turn to their next coaching target as the LaLiga giants eye Mauricio Pochettino.

Ernesto Valverde is under enormous pressure after the Supercopa de Espana semi-final loss to Atletico Madrid, but Xavi has reportedly turned down the job – for now.

Amid contrasting reports over Barca's next decision, they may be lining up a move for Pochettino.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA CONTACT POCHETTINO OVER COACHING JOB

Barcelona contacted former Tottenham manager Pochettino to be their next boss, according to RAC1.

It comes as widespread reports in Spain say Al Sadd boss and former Barcelona star Xavi turned down the position.

Meanwhile, Catalunya Radio reported Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman also rejected the opportunity.

After a meeting on Sunday, Barca decided to stick with Valverde for now, according to Sport.

ROUND-UP

- Amid reports Manchester United had agreed to terms with Bruno Fernandes, the Mirror says the Premier League club are set to bid £65million (€76.1m) for the Sporting CP midfielder this week.

- Tottenham are set to sign Benfica's Gedson Fernandes as further details about a possible move emerge. Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano reports Spurs will sign the Portugal international on loan with an option to buy for between £42.7m (€50m) and £51.2m (€60m) in 2021.

- Jerome Boateng continues to be linked with a Bayern Munich exit. Milan are ready to challenge Arsenal for the defender, according to Sky Germany.

- Coming out of contract at season's end, it appears Layvin Kurzawa's future is away from Paris Saint-Germain. L'Equipe reports the left-back – who has made just five Ligue 1 starts this campaign – recently rejected Inter but the Serie A club remain hopeful of signing the 27-year-old this month.

- Juventus are looking to the future. CalcioMercato reports the Serie A champions are keeping an eye on teenage Ajax midfielder Ryan Gravenberch and AZ forward Calvin Stengs.

Neymar wants Paris Saint-Germain to stick with their all-out attacking approach despite Monaco twice coming from behind to claim a thrilling 3-3 Ligue 1 draw at the Parc des Princes.

Neymar was on sparkling form, scoring twice and forcing Fode Ballo-Toure's own goal but Monaco gave as good as they got in an absorbing contest in Paris on Sunday.

Gelson Martins and Wissam Ben Yedder overturned Neymar's early opener to give Robert Moreno's Monaco the lead inside 15 minutes and Islam Slimani smuggled in another equaliser 20 minutes from time.

Neymar and Angel Di Maria flanked Mauro Icardi and Kylian Mbappe in attack but PSG's backline was frequently exposed.

Nevertheless, Neymar – the world's most expensive footballer – is backing head coach Thomas Tuchel's strategy.

"We scored three goals. I think that it worked well," Neymar told reporters.

"We have quality, we know it. I think you made a mistake with this question but I responded."

Neymar believes Sunday's test will stand PSG in good stead as they once again compete for multiple honours, with Tuchel's old employers Borussia Dortmund their last-16 opponents when the Champions League resumes next month.

"This was a very difficult match," the Brazil international added. "We knew that we were going to encounter difficulties because they have a good team, with quality.

"It was a good test. We are happy. This was not the best match of our season. We are going to improve each time to pull off a great campaign."

Monaco twice came from behind to claim a 3-3 draw in a Ligue 1 thriller against Paris Saint-Germain at the Parc des Princes on Sunday.

Gelson Martins swiftly cancelled out Neymar's early opener and Thomas Tuchel's men were behind to a fine Wissam Ben Yedder goal by the time the world's most expensive player forced a Fode Ballo-Toure own goal.

Neymar's penalty put leaders PSG ahead at the break but substitute Islam Slimani came up with a VAR-assisted leveller.

The remarkable first half burst into life inside three minutes as Neymar darted on to Marco Verratti's lofted pass to coolly finish.

Monaco refused to be cowed and Gelson slotted into an unguarded net four minutes later when Keylor Navas brought down Ben Yedder and play was allowed to continue.

Keita Balde was then booked for simulation inside the PSG area but was involved in a superb Monaco second, exchanging one-twos with Aleksandr Golovin down the left before finding Ben Yedder to brilliantly beat Juan Bernat and fire home.

Navas saved with his boot to stop Balde making it 3-1 and that moment seemingly shocked PSG back into life. Ballo-Toure turned Neymar's shot from Angel Di Maria's pass into his own net and it was all square once more.

Monaco captain Kamil Glik headed Cesc Fabregas' left-wing corner against the near post before PSG regained the lead in the 42nd minute – Neymar sending Benjamin Lecomte the wrong way after a panicked Gelson clattered into Kylian Mbappe.

Lecomte stood firm to thwart Neymar at close quarters nine minutes into a second half where the pace somewhat inevitably relented.

Monaco hung in the contest and snatched a disputed equaliser 20 minutes from time.

Slimani was flagged offside when he scrambled home the rebound from Gelson's shot, but replays showed Marquinhos got a touch on the ball before it ran towards the on-loan Leicester City striker.

Navas tipped over to deny Slimani an unlikely winner before Neymar's sumptuous chipped pass in stoppage time gave Mbappe the chance to claim an outright club record of scoring in an 11th consecutive PSG match, but the striker sliced wide.

What does it mean? PSG's chin tested after Robert's Monaco came out swinging

PSG dropped points for only the fourth time this season, leaving them five points ahead of Marseille at the summit with a game in hand. This high-class encounter should do them little harm as attentions begin to turn back towards the Champions League, while Monaco are in the hunt for a return to European football and look to have some of their old swagger back under Robert Moreno.

Neymar shows style and substance

Injuries and the saga over his long-term club future have provided a less-than-ideal backdrop to Neymar's third season in Paris. But he has now scored in each of his past seven matches in all competitions – a run dating back to December 4. The Brazil star was unplayable at times and the sight of him charging back to his own box to break up a Monaco counter-attack with an hour played heartened the Parc des Princes faithful.

Verratti fails to stem the tide

Italy international Verratti showed his undoubted quality with the pass for Neymar's opener but his other role in Tuchel's expansive attacking line-up is to help protect the back four. Too often, he came up woefully short in this department against a vibrant Monaco, not least when Gelson's deft spin left him on the turf in the build-up to Slimani's equaliser.

What's next

These two sides will do it all again in their rescheduled Stade Louis II clash on Wednesday. Sunday's evidence in Paris certainly suggested it will not be one to miss.

Liverpool broke yet more records in their latest Premier League triumph over Tottenham, achieving a benchmark that not even Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain or Bayern Munich have previously managed. 

Roberto Firmino scored the first-half winner as the unbeaten Reds recorded their 20th top-flight victory in 21 games to take their tally to 61 points this term.

In the three-points-for-a-win era, that is the biggest points haul any team in Europe's top five leagues has ever managed after 21 games.

The likes of Barcelona, PSG, Juventus and Bayern Munich have enjoyed spells as all-conquering giants in their respective domestic leagues, yet none of those sides have been able to achieve such a total at the same stage.

In avoiding defeat, Klopp's side also extended their unbeaten Premier League run to 38 games, the equivalent of a full season.

They have accrued 104 points in that time, winning 33 times and drawing on five occasions, bettering the previous record totals Manchester City and Chelsea (both 102) managed across 38-match spells in 2017-18 and 2005 respectively.

Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel is overjoyed at the impact Mauro Icardi has had since joining on loan from Inter.

Icardi left Inter under something of a cloud, as his relationship with the club was said to have become increasingly strained after a frustrating season in which he scored only 11 Serie A goals.

He was then frozen out by new coach Antonio Conte and the striker eventually secured an exit on September 1, joining PSG on an initial loan deal for the 2019-20 campaign.

Since moving to Paris, the 26-year-old has found his mojo once again, scoring nine times in 11 Ligue 1 matches, helping to form a formidable front four with compatriot Angel Di Maria, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar.

A hat-trick in the 6-1 Coupe de la Ligue win over Saint-Etienne on Wednesday was Icardi's most recent contribution, taking him to nine goals in his past 10 matches across all competitions, though Tuchel did not wish to discuss the purchase option that is reportedly set at €65million.

"I'm very impressed with Mauro Icardi," Tuchel told reporters ahead of Sunday's Ligue 1 meeting with Monaco.

"I met him here for the first time. The guy is super reliable and very, very professional. He understands football tactically, works defensively and is very, very efficient.

"His work and his reliability for the team is very impressive, but I don't want to talk about the purchase option."

The attacking unit of Icardi, Neymar, Mbappe and Di Maria has been dubbed the 'Fantastic Four', and Tuchel is impressed by their thirst for work, which he believes is vital for their tactical system to succeed.

"We are more reliable and beefier than in 2019," Tuchel said. "Our team has matured with the recruitment of the pre-season.

"There is a good frame of mind. We have a great team with healthy competition and I want to maintain this good level.

"We attack together and we defend together. This is perhaps one of the most beautiful things in football. A team cannot win with five players. The best level requires playing as a team.

"If you want to play 4-4-2, there are a lot of things to do and spaces to protect. Everyone has to do what is necessary and the players are doing it at the moment.

"With 4-4-2, the sides have to be more careful about defensive replacement than when playing in 4-3-3.

"I want players who are free to attack, but who also protect the spaces. I'm asking of my offensive players that they try to chase the ball in order to achieve a high pressure and recover the ball quickly.

"We have players capable of doing this counter-pressing. Neymar is smart enough to do it, Mauro Icardi or Angel Di Maria and Pablo Sarabia, too. We always find the best possible mix for us to keep this balance."

Andres Iniesta believes Barcelona would not regret bringing Neymar back from Paris Saint-Germain.

Brazil star Neymar has been repeatedly linked with a Camp Nou return over the past six months, with PSG digging in during the Ligue 1 close season to ensure he stayed in Paris.

An astonishing move to the French giants in August 2017 saw Neymar bought out of his Barcelona contract for a world-record €222million, and PSG hoped he would lead them to Champions League glory.

Only this week, Neymar said he felt the longed-for European glory remained a possibility this season, and he has seen off much of the hostility from Parisian supporters that followed several months of appearing to agitate for a return to Barca.

Yet as PSG bid to scoop a third successive Ligue 1 title and brace for a Champions League last-16 clash with Borussia Dortmund, rumours linking Neymar to the Blaugrana continue to linger.

Iniesta was a team-mate of Neymar's at Barcelona. Now a Vissel Kobe player, the Spain great has no doubt Neymar would slot back in and make a big contribution if a return could be negotiated.

"He's one of the best forwards out there, not just now," Iniesta said, quoted in Marca.

"He'd be a great signing for Barcelona. Another thing is whether it's necessary or not. For me, he's one of the best and he'd be a great signing."

Barcelona have a strong array of attacking talent, with Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann leading the line in Thursday's Supercopa clash against Atletico Madrid.

Messi and Suarez are both 32, however, and eventually Barcelona will need a succession plan when it comes to their vaunted attack. Neymar does not turn 28 until next month.

Iniesta remains in awe of Messi's achievements, though, saying of the six-time Ballon d'Or winner: "He keeps outdoing himself, beating records; he's more important than ever.

"It's the best news for Barcelona that he's like this. I hope that he can achieve the objectives that he has this season."

Mauro Icardi would welcome an extended stay at Paris Saint-Germain.

The on-loan Inter striker plundered a hat-trick as Thomas Tuchel's side thumped Saint-Etienne 6-1 in the Coupe de la Ligue on Wednesday, taking his tally to 17 goals in 19 appearances across all competitions for PSG.

Icardi's agent and wife Wanda Nara sparked a fresh wave of speculation over the player's future by telling Eurosport "nothing is certain" in terms of whether the Ligue 1 champions will exercise an option to purchase, reported to be in the region of €70million, at the end of the campaign.

"We haven't talked about it with the club yet, but for sure I'm very well here," Icardi said after his hat-trick heroics, as quoted by Corriere dello Sport. 

"There are still four to five months before the end of the championship, then in May, when everything is over, we will talk about it.

"But if I had to stay here, I would be happy."

Icardi's resurgence in Paris has left the club's all-time leading lscorer Edinson Cavani as the odd man out in an all-star forward line, with the formidable trio of Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Angel Di Maria lining up alongside the central striker.

As such, Cavani is a reported target of Manchester United, Arsenal and Atletico Madrid this month.

"To play in the place of Cavani, after many years of having done the best in PSG's history, it is a responsibility," Icardi added when asked about the Uruguay international.

"I knew this. When I play, I give the best of myself, just as when he does. The most important thing is the team."

Villarreal have told French giants Lyon it will take a major offer to prise Karl Toko Ekambi away from El Madrigal this month.

With Memphis Depay injured and seemingly out for the rest of the Ligue 1 season, Lyon are seeking a replacement to strengthen their attacking options.

Ekambi, who previously played in France with Paris FC, Sochaux and Angers, has caught Lyon's attention and Spanish newspaper AS reported an initial €12million offer has been turned down.

That led Villarreal boss Javi Calleja to say on Thursday that any club wanting the striker must consider his release clause, which is said to be over €60million.

"There has been real interest," Calleja said in a news conference, according to Marca.

"The player has not trained in recent days because of physical problems, not because of this interest.

"Ekambi has a release clause, a value in the transfer market, and those that want him have to accept that."

Ekambi, 27, is a Cameroon international and joined Villarreal from Angers in 2018.

He was Villarreal's leading scorer in LaLiga last season and has netted six goals in 18 league appearances this term.

Lyon are toiling in 12th place in Ligue 1 at the midway point of the season, seven points adrift of the top three.

Mauro Icardi has exceeded expectations at Paris Saint-Germain following his Coupe de la Ligue hat-trick, according to team-mate Marco Verratti.

Icardi's three goals led French champions PSG past 10-man Saint-Etienne 6-1 and into the semi-finals on Wednesday.

The Argentina international forward has flourished since arriving on an initial loan deal from Serie A outfit Inter at the start of the season, scoring 17 goals across all competitions.

PSG midfielder Verratti hailed Icardi – who was linked to Juventus, Napoli and Real Madrid prior to joining Thomas Tuchel's side – after his latest exploits in Paris midweek.

"Mauro? He may not touch the ball, he knows the ball will reach him and he will score, he is always ready," Verratti told Canal +.

"This is his main characteristic of Mauro. We didn't think it was going to be as good, the first six months are always difficult, but it is incredible and we hope it will continue like this."

Icardi has hit the ground running in the French capital, with nine of his goals coming in Ligue 1 as defending champions PSG top the standings by seven points.

"Starting the year well is important for everyone and for the team," Icardi told reporters. "We already did it with the last match in the Coupe de France, we demonstrated the team we have. And today, at home, we once again demonstrated the team we had, facing another opponent, by making a great match.

"The fantastic four [Icardi, Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Angel Di Maria] ? We are working to improve, to have an oiled collective game, to attack together, to defend together, to do it in the best way. We know what we have to do. That's why we will have good results.

"We know that if we want to play with four forwards we must all make the sacrifices together. And that's what we've been doing since the coach changed systems. And we're doing it very well. "

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