Christophe Galtier says Kylian Mbappe is not "above the club" after he made the "difficult decision" to stay at Paris Saint-Germain.

Mbappe had looked set to join Real Madrid when his contract expired at the end of last season, but instead signed a new three-year deal with the Ligue 1 champions.

It was reported last month that the France international wants to leave PSG in January despite only committing his future to the club in May.

Galtier says Mbappe, who is currently preparing to play for the defending champions at the World Cup in Qatar, "embodies the project" at the Parc des Princes but is not more important than any of his team-mates.

The PSG head coach said during an appearance on Rothen ignites on RMC: "He embodies the project, there can be no doubt.

"But when I say that he embodies the project, it is not that he is above the club. Kylian is at the same level as all the other players.

"On the same level as Leo Messi, who has an incredible career, who is the greatest player in the history of football. Kylian is on the same level as Neymar."

Galtier acknowledged Mbappe had come to a "difficult decision" to remain in the French capital, adding: "Obviously he is in love with Paris Saint-Germain, but he had a very attentive eye on Real Madrid.

"He made the decision to stay. Thank you for Ligue 1, for PSG, for the players and for me. He made a strong decision and he must be respected for that. He is respectable."

Mauricio Pochettino believes he offered Paris Saint-Germain stability but the challenge proved a step too far after having to appease "too much greatness" within his squad.

PSG brought in Lionel Messi in August 2021, along with Achraf Hakimi, Gianluigi Donnarumma and Sergio Ramos, to join forces with Neymar and Kylian Mbappe in the French capital.

A plethora of world-class talent was expected to help Pochettino's side to European glory, though they instead crashed out of the 2021-22 Champions League after a dramatic last-16 clash with eventual winners Real Madrid.

Pochettino and PSG subsequently parted ways in July 2022, with Christophe Galtier his replacement, and the Argentine has said balancing an abundance of superstar footballers was the greatest difficulty.

"You need to adapt constantly because there was too much greatness," Pochettino told Spanish outlet Relevo.

"For Barcelona to have Messi or for Madrid to count on Cristiano [Ronaldo] is a blessing. But when you put too many players on the pitch who all need their place and to be number one, there can be confusion.

"In the end, when you play, it's 11 players with only one ball. There was a penalty and who takes it? It's not even the manager's decision.

"Our ability [Pochettino and his coaching staff's] was that of being people who kept the consensus, who were flexible to give each person what they needed.

"The thing is each one needed something different with their circumstances, depending on how they were doing in sporting terms, in family terms, and so on.

"We gave cause for there to be certain stability at PSG this year and for the same pieces to be maintained."

PSG's recruitment has come under scrutiny in recent years, with their desire to assemble world football's biggest names coming at the detriment of both player happiness and defensive stability.

Mbappe's time at PSG with Pochettino was filled with transfer speculation, the forward signing a bumper three-year extension after it appeared increasingly likely he would wait for a move to Madrid.

Former Tottenham boss Pochettino suggested he did not even know Mbappe was going to sign fresh terms just hours before PSG announced the news.

"They asked me in a news conference if I saw myself with Mbappe at PSG and I said yes because he had a year left on his contract," he added.

"[Carlo] Ancelotti [once] said that thing about how managers can't say the truth.

"Kylian was always calm, he always told me that he hadn't taken a decision. I knew what everyone [else] knew. He told me: 'Mister, I haven't taken the decision.' I insisted: 'But tell me if you've signed, it can stay a secret.' 'Mister, I haven't signed anything,' he replied. 'Are you going to stay?' 'I don't know.' 'Are you going to leave?' 'I don't know.'

"And like that until the end. I don't know what happened afterwards, I only found out a few hours before the announcement was made at the final match [of the season]."

Christophe Galtier admitted he was concerned about fielding Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe in Paris Saint-Germain's final match before the World Cup.

Messi returned from a minor Achilles injury to join Neymar and Mbappe in PSG's star-studded attack for their routine 5-0 win over Auxerre at the Parc des Princes on Sunday.

Mbappe opened the scoring early on before Carlos Soler scored one and set up Achraf Hakimi for another as PSG eased towards a seventh straight win in all competitions.

Galtier was able to replace Messi and Neymar in the 75th minute, with substitutes Renato Sanches and Hugo Ekitike helping themselves to a goal apiece.

While the superstar forward trio were eager to play a part in the contest, Galtier was glad all three came through unscathed before heading off to Qatar.

"The afternoon is perfect. I can't even say almost perfect, it's perfect," Galtier told Amazon Prime. 

"We only conceded one chance and had a serious match that everyone wanted to play. Nobody was particularly concerned about the World Cup. 

"It was probably me who was the most [concerned]. That's why I wanted to relieve Ney and Leo. Kylian stayed on the pitch, but he is 23 years old. 

"Ney had also stopped in the middle of the week during a session, while Leo was coming back from an overload in the calf. I'm happy with the entries of Renato and Hugo."

 

PSG have gone 22 matches without defeat under Galtier, winning 18 of those, and enter the World Cup break five points clear of surprise package Lens.

The Parisians have reached the 40-point mark after 15 games for the fifth time in their history, with no other team in Ligue 1 history doing so on a single occasion.

Galtier will now enjoy a short hiatus, which includes taking in a few World Cup groups in Qatar, the home of PSG's mega-rich backers.

"I'm going to take advantage of being with my family and my granddaughter," he said. 

"And then I'm going to Doha for four days to see three matches, including the match for the France team, alongside my president and my leaders."

Sunday's contest marked the first time since Messi arrived ahead of last season that PSG have scored four goals in a row without one of their superstar attackers being involved.

It was also a welcome first clean sheet in five matches for Galtier's side, with defender Presnel Kimpembe being used as a substitute ahead of linking up with the France squad.

"The World Cup is something we've been thinking about for a while, albeit in the back of our minds," said Kimpembe, who has had hamstring issues this season. 

"Now the first part of the season is over, we can focus solely on the France team. I was never worried about picking up an injury beforehand.

"Playing minutes today felt good. I am feeling positive, but the fact I was brought onto the field shows everything is fine."

Paris Saint-Germain restored their five-point lead at the top of Ligue 1 ahead of the World Cup break with a routine 5-0 win over Auxerre at the Parc des Princes on Sunday.

Kylian Mbappe opened the scoring early on following some good build-up play from Lionel Messi, who returned from injury to join the France forward and Neymar in attack. 

A seventh win in a row for PSG in all competitions never looked in doubt when Carlos Soler added a second goal and then assisted Achraf Hakimi for the home side's third.

Christophe Galtier made full use of his squad depth and substitutes Renato Sanches and Hugo Ekitike added gloss to the scoreline with a couple of late goals.

The serene nature of the contest ensured Galtier could replace a number of PSG's Qatar-bound stars, with no players sustaining an injury problem of any sort.

Messi sent a delightful lofted ball over the Auxerre defence for Nuno Mendes to deliver a first-time pass towards Mbappe, who in turn helped it over the line with 11 minutes gone.

The goal stood following a VAR check for a possible handball against Neymar, but Auxerre nearly levelled as M'Baye Niang forced Gianluigi Donnarumma into a fine save.

PSG toiled before Mendes took the ball past a couple of players and picked out Soler to glance a header away from Benoit Costil and in off the far post early in the second half.

Soler turned provider six minutes later when playing in Hakimi to coolly slot past Costil from a one-on-one position.

Messi hit the post but could not get his name on the scoresheet, though Sanches fired in off the post before fellow substitute Ekitike profited from some poor defending to coolly add a fifth.

Mauricio Pochettino wants his next coaching job to be with a club capable of winning the Champions League after his experience of working with Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi and Neymar at Paris Saint-Germain.

Pochettino departed PSG in July, having won the Ligue 1 title last season having failed to recover their title bid the previous year.

The former Tottenham boss paid the price for another lacklustre campaign in Europe, however, with his star-studded squad eliminated by Real Madrid across a dramatic last-16 encounter.

Pochettino has been out of work since despite offers, and he has now outlined exactly what he is looking for in a new project.

"Talking about projects in football is very difficult," he reflected. "There are [a] few lucky ones who can be involved in a project in the medium or long term.

"[But] there is more and more demand and less patience in the clubs. The main objective is to win and at the same time create a structure that gives you a livelihood to maintain it.

"After being at a club with Mbappe, Messi, Neymar, it is normal that I would seek to maintain that level. A club that gives the chance to aim for the biggest, like winning the Champions League [would be ideal]."

On countryman Messi, who is likely to have his final shot at winning a World Cup with Argentina at Qatar 2022 later this month, Pochettino feels his narrative helps La Albiceleste sit among the favourites.

"You always have to count on Argentina," he added."[But there is also] Brazil, [and] I would include England, France, Spain and Germany.

"Argentina is more favoured than four years ago, especially having won the Copa America. When you have Messi, and everyone understands they have to play for him, dreams can come true."

Success for Messi would see him follow Diego Maradona – another of the sport's all-time greats – in leading Argentina to glory.

Pochettino would not be drawn into any discussion around how the two compare as players, as he added: "For me, that debate never existed.

"They are the best in their respective contexts. How do we measure it?

"According to results? If he won the World Cup? Ballon d'Or? Both are in the same place, and it is in the first position."

Paris Saint-Germain are weighing up their forward options given the uncertainty around Lionel Messi once his contract expires at the end of this season.

Messi has deferred all talk around his future for both club and country until after the upcoming World Cup.

The French champions also have doubts around Kylian Mbappe, who has been the subject of constant speculation despite re-signing until 2025 at the start of the season.

TOP STORY – PSG WEIGH UP SON HEUNG-MIN MOVE

Paris Saint-Germain  are considering a move for Tottenham forward  Son Heung-min , reports El Nacional.

PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi will try to speak to Son during the World Cup, where he has been selected by his country despite a fractured eye socket sustained a fortnight ago.

The report claims  Real Madrid  had previous interest in Son, but president Florentino Perez has moved on given the €80million (£70m) asking price for a 30-year-old.

ROUND-UP

–  Chelsea  and  Manchester United  are both keeping a close eye on Brighton and Hove Albion goalkeeper  Robert Sanchez , according to the Sunday Mirror. That comes in light of a Daily Star report that claims David de Gea will need to accept a £100,000 pay cut to stay at United.

–  Chelsea are Palmeiras' 16-year-old  Endrick 's preferred destination amid interest from numerous clubs, reports ESPN Brazil. Palmeiras have declined an offer from  PSG already.

–  Juventus  held talks this week with Lazio midfielder  Sergej Milinkovic-Savic 's agent about a move to the Bianconeri, claims Calciomercato. The report claims Juve have made him a priority but will likely need to wait until the end of the season.

– L'Equipe reports talks between  Marco Verratti and  PSG  on a new deal are well advanced. The Italian midfielder is contracted until June 2024.

–  Villarreal  are ready to offer a deal to Blackburn's Chile international forward  Ben Brereton Diaz , claims The Sun. Brereton Diaz's contract expires at the end of this season.

Real Madrid are looking to Serie A for their next striker, with Napoli's Victor Osimhen and Milan's Rafael Leao interesting the Spanish giants.

Osimhen, 23, arrived at Napoli after a club-record €70million transfer from Lille in 2020 and quickly adapted to life in Italy.

Leao, who is the same age, was Osimhen's team-mate at Lille back in 2019 before being pried away to Milan. He was spectacular last campaign in helping Milan to their first Serie A title since the 2010-11 season, scoring a career-high 11 league goals, and has hit form this term, too.

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID IDENTIFY OSIMHEN AND LEAO AS KEY FORWARD TARGETS

According to Calciomercato, the only thing standing between Madrid and "another nine-figure investment" in one of Serie A's leading lights is the contract of 31-year-old winger Eden Hazard.

Forbes reports Hazard is making approximately €500,000 per week, and if Madrid can find a taker for him in January, or at the end of the season, their financial flexibility will vastly improve.

Come January, Leao will have 18 months remaining on his contract, and with numerous reports that negotiations for an extension have made little progress, Milan will eventually have to entertain the likelihood of a sale.

Osimhen has an extra year on top of that, tying him to Napoli until 2025 and giving the club plenty of leverage in any potential sale.

ROUND-UP

– The Evening Standard is reporting Chelsea have held multiple meetings with 16-year-old Palmeiras prospect Endrick, who is also a target for Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain. He will not be allowed to leave for Europe until he turns 18 in 2024.

– According to TeamTalk, Tottenham are looking to replace goalkeeper and club captain Hugo Lloris.

West Ham and Leicester City are interested in 28-year-old Inter left-back Robin Gosens, per Gazzetta dello Sport. 

– Sport is reporting Juventus are willing to meet the contract demands of Chelsea midfielder Jorginho, with the Italy international demanding €13.6m per year.

Barcelona are considering a move for Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha, who they view as a potential replacement for Memphis Depay, according to Sport.

Kylian Mbappe suffered from muscle fatigue in Paris Saint-Germain's win at Lorient, says Christophe Galtier, who has eased fears over the attacker's fitness ahead of the World Cup.

Danilo Pereira's late header sent PSG five points clear at the top of Ligue 1 on Sunday, after in-form Terem Moffi had cancelled out Neymar's opener at the Stade du Moustoir.

However, Mbappe attracted attention by heading straight down the tunnel following his 85th-minute withdrawal.

France will already be without Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante for their World Cup defence, while Karim Benzema has missed several of Real Madrid's fixtures during an injury-hit season, including the upcoming meeting with Rayo Vallecano.

Galtier, however, quashed concerns over Mbappe's condition after the win, telling Amazon Prime Video: "[It's] nothing serious. We saw the news about Karim, but nothing serious for Kylian. 

"Kylian made an effort. It's much better to ask to go off than to take the risk of staying on the pitch, or being on the pitch and being totally absent."

In his post-match press conference, Galtier revealed Mbappe had been suffering from fatigue as a result of PSG's congested schedule. 

"There is no alert in a specific area, it's fatigue linked to the sequence of matches," Galtier said. "The playing conditions were difficult. 

"He also came out tired after Juventus on Wednesday. It's a very busy schedule, with a certain apprehension. Everyone is listening to their body in this pre-World Cup period. There can be a fear."

With PSG failing to meet their usual standards in their penultimate game before the World Cup break, Galtier believes the spectre of the tournament caused his side to play with "restraint".

"Automatically, the World Cup is in the minds of the players. It's hard for them to manage. There is always information that can make them doubt," Galtier said.

"You have the feeling of playing at 100 per cent, but today I saw a certain restraint, linked to fatigue, plus the announcement of the squads in a few days. 

"We did a little less, we were a little fearful in duels, but fatigue also made it difficult in the second half."

PSG were without Lionel Messi against Lorient, though he is expected to return before the World Cup break.

Erling Haaland's Manchester City progress will be down to Pep Guardiola's ego, says Zlatan Ibrahimovic, while the striker also thinks Kylian Mbappe made a mistake staying with Paris Saint-Germain.

Norway international Haaland arrived at the Etihad Stadium during the last transfer window from Borussia Dortmund and has thus far lived up to the hype that surrounded his signing.

With 22 goals in a combined 15 games between the Premier League and Champions League already, the sky appears to be the limit for the forward this season.

But veteran Milan attacker Ibrahimovic, while a fan of the Leeds-born striker, fears his progress could be stymied by Guardiola, a coach whom he famously failed to connect with at Barcelona.

"Can Guardiola make Haaland even stronger? It depends on Guardiola's ego, if he lets him become bigger than him or not," the Sweden international told Canal+.

"He didn't let me get bigger, me [and] others. Not only me, [but] many others [too]. I like Haaland, very much so. I think he is a very intelligent player. He doesn't do things he is not capable of."

Ibrahimovic also weighed in on the future PSG forward Mbappe, whose next step remains the subject of feverish speculation.

The France attacker penned an extension to stay with the Ligue 1 champions, turning down a move to Real Madrid, but has reportedly seen his working relationships subsequently break down at the club.

On whether he should have made the switch to LaLiga, Ibrahimovic added: "He made the right choice for Paris, not for himself.

"He put himself in a situation where is more important than the club. Then the club gave him the keys for that. But you are never bigger than a club."

Kylian Mbappe conceded Paris Saint-Germain did not do enough to top their Champions League group, which Benfica topped in dramatic circumstances on Wednesday.

Goals from Mbappe and Nuno Mendes at Juventus, either side of Leonardo Bonucci's equaliser, seemed to have Christophe Galtier's side on course to top Group H courtesy of a 2-1 triumph.

However, Benfica scored five unanswered second-half goals at Maccabi to win 6-1, the latter of which from Joao Mario in the 92nd minute snatched top spot on away goals scored.

For the first instance in Champions League history, PSG and Benfica could not be separated by their head-to-head record, goals scored or conceded, though Mbappe suggested his side should have done more.

"During the match, we did not know, but in the end they tried to warn us" the World Cup-winning forward told RMC Sport.

"But that was the end, it doesn't matter, we qualified. We came to do the work, that's not enough, we'll watch the draw and we'll play to win."

Galtier pinpointed PSG's 7-2 win over Maccabi on matchday five as a warning sign and lamented the fine margins that saw his side finish second.

"When we were winning 7-2 last week, we stopped playing at the 90th minute," he told Canal+. "We conceded too many goals during the group stage from set-pieces, as we did against Maccabi.

"If we'd conceded one goal fewer, we would have finished top of the group."

PSG failed to top their Champions League group for a second straight season after finishing first in each of the previous four, but Galtier insisted his side have still performed well in Europe's top competition.

"We could consider everything. We knew this possibility. Congratulations to Benfica, who scored more away goals than us," he added.

"Afterwards, I congratulate my team and my group. We had a good group. We scored a lot of goals. That's the history of the Champions League. This competition is sometimes irrational and we saw that.

"We had an exceptional journey. We've beaten Juventus twice and we were very happy until the 92nd minute.

"But if you want to go far in this competition, you have to beat big teams. Let's wait for the draw and see who we get in the last 16."

Super-sub Nuno Mendes scored the winner for Paris Saint-Germain in a 2-1 victory against Juventus, though it was not enough to clinch top spot in Group H.

Kylian Mbappe fired home to open the scoring but his goal was cancelled out by Leonardo Bonucci's equaliser before the break in a tight encounter in Turin on Wednesday.

PSG looked to have secured progress to the last 16 as group winners, though, when Mendes changed the picture midway through the second half.

However, a remarkable result for Benfica against Maccabi Haifa saw the Portuguese side score the six goals they required to pull level on goal difference with PSG and snatch top spot courtesy of away goals scored.

PSG's quality showed after 20 minutes when Mbappe latched onto Lionel Messi's pass, nutmegged Frederico Gatti and drilled in off the right-hand post for his seventh Champions League goal of the season.

Yet PSG were pegged back five minutes before the break – Bonucci sliding in to meet Juan Cuadrado's diving header and convert from close range.

Chances continued to be hard to come by for both teams after the restart until the 69th minute, when Mbappe fed through substitute Mendes, who finished crisply across Wojciech Szczesny.

Manuel Locatelli saw a goal correctly disallowed for offside and Federico Chiesa – making his long-awaited return from injury as a substitute – had a penalty appeal waved away as Juve's comeback attempts proved fruitless.

Juve were at least saved the embarrassment of an exit from European football entirely thanks to Benfica's win in Israel, and the Bianconeri will fight for a place in the last 16 of the Europa League in the new year.

Salzburg will have to do what no other Austrian side has done before at Milan to qualify for the Champions League knockout stages, while Jude Bellingham has his eyes on an achievement managed by only two players previously.

The Rossoneri need only a point from the game at San Siro and the historical facts suggest they will achieve their aim to make it out of Group E.

For Bellingham, he can put his name in the record books alongside former team-mate Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe by scoring for Borussia Dortmund at Copenhagen.

There is plenty to play for as the Champions League group stage wraps up on Wednesday, and Stats Perform has trawled through the data to shine a light on the most interesting angles.

Milan v Salzburg

With a win, Salzburg will advance to the knockout stages for the second consecutive season after never making it out of the group stage previously.

They will need to defy the odds on their trip to Milan, where the Italian side are undefeated in home fixtures against Austrian opponents in the competition (W4 D1), while averaging 3.8 goals per game.

Salzburg have never beaten Milan in their three previous Champions League meetings, but after losing the first two, they collected their first point with a 1-1 draw in this campaign's reverse fixture.

While Olivier Giroud became the oldest player in Champions League history to reach 20 goals (36 years old) during Milan's win at Dinamo Zagreb last time out, Salzburg boast the youngest starting XI in the competition with an average age of 22 years and 279 days.

Shakhtar Donetsk v RB Leipzig

Shakhtar have only won one game in the group stage, but sit three points behind second-placed. A win would see them through to the knockout stages for the third time in the past four seasons.

The reverse-fixture was a memorable one for Shakhtar and exciting young winger Mykhailo Mudryk, who showed why he is so in-demand with a goal and two assists in a 4-1 away win.

Unfortunately for the Ukrainian side, that was their only victory from their past 12 Champions League matches (D6 L5).

Meanwhile, Leipzig have found some form in the competition, with back-to-back victories against Celtic before making it three wins in a row when they beat Real Madrid 3-2.

Manchester City v Sevilla

City are eyeing an undefeated group stage when they host Sevilla, having only conceded one goal in total from their five games until this point.

English sides have given Sevilla trouble for years now, with their last Champions League win over a Premier League team coming back in 2007 against Arsenal. 

If Jorge Sampaoli's side are to stand any chance of a shock win, they will need to pay special attention to Jack Grealish, who has impressed in the group stage with 10 chances created from open play, the most in Pep Guardiola's squad.

Maccabi Haifa v Benfica

If Juventus can salvage even a draw in their clash with Paris Saint-Germain, then Benfica will be able to win Group H by defeating Maccabi Haifa.

It has been a special run of form for Benfica, who for the first time since 1990 have gone six Champions League games without a loss (W3 D3).

Maccabi will have their backs against the wall, as only Malmo have a worse winning percentage (17 per cent) than their 24 per cent among teams to have played at least 15 Champions League games.

Also working in Benfica's favour is manager Roger Schmidt's record in the competition. Between his time with Bayer Leverkusen (2014-2017) and Benfica in this campaign, his run of 13 games unbeaten is the most by any active manager qualified for this season's Champions League.

Other fixtures:

Juventus v Paris Saint-Germain

- Juventus are looking to avoid becoming the second Italian side to ever lose five matches in a Champions League group stage, after Roma in 2004-05.

- Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe has six goals in the group stage. With one more he can tie Christopher Nkunku (last season) for the most by a French player in a single group stage, while with two more he can tie Zlatan Ibrahimovic's club-record of eight in 2013-14.

Copenhagen v Borussia Dortmund

60  - Despite Copenhagen still being without a win in Group G, they have kept a clean sheet in 60 per cent (nine-of-15) of their Champions League home games – the best ratio of any team with at least 10 appearances.

- With a goal, Bellingham can become just the third teenager to ever score in all three away games in a Champions League group stage, following Mbappe (2017-18) and Haaland (2019-20).

Chelsea v Dinamo Zagreb

10  - Chelsea are undefeated in their past 10 group stage games in the Champions League dating back to September 2019 (W6 D4). Over that period, they are averaging 2.3 goals per game.

10  - Along with City's Grealish, Chelsea's Mason Mount is the only other Premier League player from this Champions League campaign to tally at least 10 shots and 10 chances created.

Real Madrid v Celtic

20  - Since the beginning of last season's Champions League, no player has been involved in more open-play sequences that have resulted in a goal than Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior (20).

14  - Celtic's Matt O'Riley has attempted the most shots in the Champions League this season without scoring, with no goals from his 14 shots.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic believes French football is "collapsing" without him, declaring the presence of Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Lionel Messi as "not enough".

Ibrahimovic enjoyed a trophy-laden spell with Paris Saint-Germain between 2012 and 2016, winning 12 domestic honours including four consecutive Ligue 1 titles.

The Sweden striker's tally of 156 goals for PSG, meanwhile, is only bettered by Edinson Cavani (200) and Mbappe (188) in the club's history, although his return of 0.87 goals per game is better than both of those players.

Ibrahimovic, who is expected to return for Milan in 2023 after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury at the end of last season, claims Ligue 1 has suffered for his absence.

Speaking to Canal+, Ibrahimovic said: "Since I left France, everything is collapsing. 

"There is no longer any interesting subject. France needs me, but I don't need France. 

"Even if you have Mbappe, Neymar and Messi, it's not enough, because you don't have God."

Mbappe (11), Neymar (10) and Messi (seven) have scored a combined 28 league goals for PSG this season after all three men netted in Saturday's dramatic 4-3 victory over Troyes.

 

Christophe Galtier admits Paris Saint-Germain are lacking balance and cannot rely on their superstar forwards to bail them out after scraping a 4-3 victory over Troyes.

The reigning Ligue 1 champions twice trailed to goals from Mama Balde, either side of Carlos Soler's leveller, in Saturday's clash at the Parc des Princes.

But Lionel Messi scored a superb equaliser and then played in Neymar to put PSG ahead for the first time, before Kylian Mbappe emphatically converted from the penalty spot.

There was still time for Ante Palaversa to pull one back, making Troyes the first side to score three or more goals at PSG in the league since Bordeaux in February 2020.

Rather than showing pride in PSG's ability to fight back and move five points clear at the summit, Galtier criticised the defensive performance of his side.

"The team was very unbalanced from the start," Galtier told Amazon Prime. "Some players had trouble finding their levels.

"We won very few balls high up the pitch and lost too many duels. On a defensive level, we made far too many mistakes and again conceded from a set-piece.

"This is something we have to spend time on to fix, something we have to make work. If we have to score four goals to win each time, it's going to be complicated.

"We got ahead of ourselves because we succeeded on the offensive level, but we left ourselves completely open."

 

PSG have scored 54 goals in 19 games in all competitions this season, a tally only Bayern Munich (69 in 20) can better among teams across Europe's top five leagues.

However, having defeated Maccabi Haifa 7-2 in the Champions League in midweek, they have now conceded five goals in their past two matches.

Midfielder Marco Verratti accepts the Parisians have to tighten up at the back if they are to challenge for trophies on multiple fronts this season.

"We didn't defend well today. We cannot concede three goals at home," he said. "We have to find a better balance to our game."

The past 25 goals netted by PSG in all competitions have been either scored or assisted by Messi, Neymar and Mbappe in a run stretching back to September 3.

Galtier fielded all three of his superstar trio for the full match against Troyes – a decision the Frenchman defended after his side's 19th game without defeat since he took over.

"They had to stay on until the end if we were going to get the win," he said. "If the score had been different, with the team a few goals ahead, we could have managed it more.

"Plus, we know Neymar will not play on Wednesday [against Juventus] because of suspension. We knew today we would have to keep our attacking power to score goals."

Christophe Galtier says Paris Saint-Germain will not "break" their front three of Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Lionel Messi if they do not have to.

The trio have helped fire the Ligue 1 champions to a superb start to the season despite continued noise around Mbappe's future.

Former Barcelona duo Neymar and Messi have both returned to top form, with 22 and 23 goal involvements respectively.

Ahead of this weekend's encounter with Troyes, Galtier acknowledged a hectic schedule could force a reshuffle in attack, but he hopes all three superstars will be fit to feature again.

"It's their state of fatigue that will judge whether they play," the coach said. "They have scored 40 goals out of 50 for us this season, so it won't be based on their state of form.

"When we have this dynamic, we don't break it, we maintain it. The medical staff have done an excellent job in recent weeks. They are fine. When there is this dynamic, it is maintained."

A midweek Champions League rout against Maccabi Haifa, where the Mbappe, Neymar and Messi netted a combined five goals in a 7-2 win, ensured PSG head into next week's final Group H fixture guaranteed of progression to the knockout stages.

But whether they are seeded or not depends on their result with Juventus, with Galtier recognising the need to strike a balance between domestic and European commitments.

"We have an obligation to win against Troyes," he added. "There will also be a lot at stake in the middle of the week in Turin. Over the duration of the match, there is the possibility of involving other players."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.