France striker Kylian Mbappe has been granted permission to return to Paris Saint-Germain after suffering a right calf injury.  

Mbappe will miss the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Ukraine on Saturday and Finland on Tuesday as a result. 

The French Football Federation confirmed that no replacement would be called up.  

Mbappe was taken off in the closing stages of France’s 1-1 World Cup qualifying draw with Bosnia-Herzegovina on Wednesday. 

Despite the draw, Les Bleus sit top of Group D, four points clear of their next opponents Ukraine with four games remaining.  

The 22-year-old will hope to recover in time to return to league action for his club against Clermont on September 11. 

Kylian Mbappe will play for Real Madrid "one day or another" according to his France team-mate and Los Blancos striker Karim Benzema.

LaLiga giants Madrid reportedly offered Paris Saint-Germain €200million on deadline day, a whopping sum for a player in the final year of his contract.

It was said PSG failed to respond to that bid – Madrid's third during the window – meaning Mbappe will remain in Ligue 1 to form a mouth-watering attack alongside Lionel Messi and Neymar at the Parc des Princes this term.

However, Mbappe looks certain to agree a pre-contract agreement with Madrid in January, with the superstar forward having his heart set on a move to the Santiago Bernabeu.

Benzema is excited by the prospect of teaming up at club level with his Les Bleus team-mate, who has scored 135 goals in 175 games for PSG at a rate of one goal every 101.61 minutes.

Speaking to RTL, Benzema said of Mbappe: "He is a player who will play for Real Madrid one day or another.

"We get along really well, I would like him to be with me today in Madrid."

Benzema was speaking in the aftermath of France's 1-1 draw against Bosnia and Herzegovina on Wednesday, a World Cup qualifying match that saw Didier Deschamps' side finish with 10 men after Jules Kounde was sent off.

The point keeps France top of Group D on eight points after four games, four clear of Ukraine who have drawn all of their matches in the pool so far.

"We would have liked to win this match here, in France, in front of our audience," Benzema added.

"In the first half we made good moves, in the second half, with the red card, we fell back a little, which is normal when we play [with] one less."

France head coach Didier Deschamps acknowledged there is "significant room for improvement" with his attacking trio of Antoine Griezmann, Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappe while the latter suffered a reported calf concern.

Deschamps deployed the star trio together for the seventh straight game but lacked genuine attacking cohesion as Les Bleus drew 1-1 with Bosnia-Herzegovina in Strasbourg.

The France boss has persisted with the trio since Benzema's return to the national team fold, yet Les Bleus are winless in their past four games.

Griezmann equalised in the 39th minute after Edin Dzeko's opener but France were forced to play for most of the second half with 10 men after Jules Kounde's red card.

Mbappe crashed his only shot for the game off the near post in the 27th minute, while Griezmann's goal came with fortune after Dzeko headed a corner into his back and over the line.

Benzema's only shot on target was a tame deflected effort that was easily held by Bosnia goalkeeper Ibrahim Sehic.

"There were good things, there were sequences and individual actions," Deschamps said after the game.

"The opponents make sure to bring in a lot of people, to reduce spaces. We created chances in the first half. There are situations that could have been better handled as well.

"The room for improvement in offensive efficiency is significant, particularly with the individual quality of these three players.

"I have others on the bench. I have made changes to boost this area."

Real Madrid target Mbappe was replaced in second-half stoppage time by Moussa Diaby with RMC reporting a calf issue, although the severity is unknown at this stage.

The world champions remain top of Group D in World Cup qualifying with eight points from four games despite the draw, with second-placed Ukraine drawing 2-2 in Kazakhstan.

"We knew that [result] before and it proves that the qualifying phases are complicated," Deschamps said.

"I will not hide that we must be satisfied with this draw even if it was not what we had planned. Considering the scenario, it was complicated when we were reduced to 10.

"We have one more point and there are others to pick up on Saturday in Kiev. It happens very quickly. I have no regrets in the sense that the intentions were there."

Les Bleus return to action on Saturday away to Ukraine in Kiev, before a third qualifier in the break against Finland.

France failed to bounce back from their surprise Euro 2020 elimination as they were held to a 1-1 draw in 2022 World Cup qualifying by Bosnia-Herzegovina, finishing with 10 men. 

Les Bleus, who went out in the last 16 of the European Championship after a shock penalty shoot-out loss to Switzerland, fell behind to Edin Dzeko’s 36th-minute strike in Strasbourg on Wednesday but were quickly back on terms following a fortuitous goal for Antoine Griezmann. 

Didier Deschamps' side would have been expecting to push on for a win to go six points clear of second-placed Ukraine, who drew 2-2 with Kazakhstan earlier on Wednesday, in the second half of the Group D clash. 

However, after a deadline-day switch from Sevilla to Chelsea failed to materialise, Jules Kounde was shown a red card for a lunge on Sead Kolasinac following a VAR check and France had to settle for a point. 

Kylian Mbappe missed the decisive penalty against Switzerland but went close to getting back on the scoresheet when his effort from the tightest of angles crashed behind off the near post in the 27th minute. 

Miralem Pjanic warmed the gloves of Hugo Lloris before Dezko seized upon a wayward Thomas Lemar pass and drilled a fine 20-yard effort through Presnel Kimpembe's legs and into the bottom-right corner. 

France were somewhat lucky to restore parity three minutes later. Dzeko headed a corner against Griezmann's back and following a VAR check it was clear Ibrahim Sehic had failed to keep the ball out after a slight touch off Dennis Hadzikadunic. 

Aurelien Tchouameni was sent on for his debut at half-time but France's plan was thrown into disarray following Kounde's late tackle on Kolasinac, who had to be replaced by Eldar Civic. 

Bosnia had a couple of chances to steal a famous win, but Smail Prevljak and Pjanic were unable to find the target with their efforts inside the final five minutes.
 

The transfer window does not close. It slams shut, and on Tuesday, it slammed shut with a flurry of late activity.

LaLiga champions Atletico Madrid were heavily involved, with Antoine Griezmann re-joining the club on loan from Barcelona while Saul Niguez left for Chelsea.

It marked the end of a difficult window for Barca, who of course lost Lionel Messi to Paris Saint-Germain, who rounded off a stellar three months by not only keeping Kylian Mbappe, but also adding promising left-back Nuno Mendes.

Earlier in the day, Cristiano Ronaldo's sensational return to Manchester United had been confirmed, perhaps putting the Red Devils right in the mix for the Premier League title, while Chelsea - buoyed by Romelu Lukaku's comeback - cannot be ignored.

Here, Stats Perform looks at the winners, and losers, of what has been a chaotic transfer window.

 

THE WINNERS

Paris Saint-Germain

Let's start with the obvious. Achraf Hakimi, Mendes, Sergio Ramos, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Georgino Wijnaldum and, of course Messi. Oh, and PSG kept hold of Mbappe, too, rebuffing three bids - the final one reportedly worth €200m - from Real Madrid for the 22-year-old superstar who is out of contract next year. Speaking of out of contract players, Ramos, Donnarumma, Wijnaldum and Messi were all brought in for combined fees of €0, although their wages are sure to be astronomical even by PSG's standards. In Mbappe, Neymar and Messi, PSG have, on paper, what could be the most feared attacking trident of the modern era, not to mention Angel Di Maria in reserve. Mauricio Pochettino's side look suspect defensively but have Ramos to come in, while Donnarumma will compete with Keylor Navas. If they do not win the Champions League this season, will they ever manage it?

Manchester United

It remains to be seen whether United really needed to go out and buy Ronaldo, but the temptation – and reportedly, the requirement to get one over on noisy neighbours Manchester City – was just too much. However, there is no doubting Ronaldo brings a focal point you could argue was still missing from the Red Devils' attack, though with so much quality at his disposal the pressure will be on Ole Gunnar Solskjer to deliver a trophy. United spent big on Jadon Sancho and also brought in a world class defender in Raphael Varane. A title tilt might not be expected just yet, but silverware in some form must be the goal now. After fan protests during the botched Super League proposals earlier this year, the Glazer family seem to have gone all out to prove they want success.

Chelsea

When it comes to Premier League title contenders, Chelsea have surely put themselves well in the running. The European Champions have brought in two major additions in the form of Lukaku and Saul, both players with a wealth of experience at the highest level, and both on the back of title-winning campaigns last season. The Blues did sell Tammy Abraham, Olivier Giroud and Kurt Zouma, among others, but the strength in depth Thomas Tuchel has to play with is remarkable. A deadline day move for Sevilla's Jules Kounde did not materialise, but Saul adds another fantastic option in midfield to go alongside N'Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic and the in-form Jorginho.

Tottenham

For a long while, it looked as though Tottenham would be one of the big losers from this window. A prolonged managerial search eventually resulted in Nuno Espirito Santo's appointment, but the main saga was over Harry Kane's future. City reportedly made one bid, during Euro 2020, which was dismissed out of hand. The champions never did return with an improved offer, despite huge speculation, and Kane ultimately stayed put. Older players such as Joe Hart, Toby Alderweireld, Erik Lamela and Moussa Sissoko were moved out, while Bryan Gil, Pierluigi Gollini, Cristian Romero and Emerson Royal – a deadline day arrival from Barca – arrived to fill the gaps. Serge Aurier's contract was terminated, while three wins from three means Spurs sat top of the league heading into the international break.

Atletico Madrid

While Saul was a deadline day exit, Atleti have given themselves a great chance of retaining their LaLiga title. With rivals Madrid failing to land Mbappe, as well as losing two of their stalwarts, and Barca seemingly in disarray, there has never been a better opportunity for Diego Simeone's team to really assert themselves as top dogs in Spain. Griezmann's arrival, on a season-long loan with the option for either club to extend the switch, has bolstered a fearsome attack that already included Luis Suarez, Angel Correa, new signing Matheus Cunha and Joao Felix - though the latter may now find chances to play in his preferred position, nominally off the front man, even harder to come by. Saul was struggling to nail down a regular spot in the first team, but Atleti showed greater desire to keep Kieran Trippier, who stayed despite interest from the Premier League. Rodrigo de Paul also arrived from Udinese.

 

THE LOSERS

Barcelona

The chickens have finally come home to roost at Camp Nou. Years of mismanagement, and the impact of COVID-19, has left the club's finances in a shambolic state. Barca had agreed to a new deal with Messi only to then announce the deal could not be completed due to "financial and structural obstacles". Barca ended the window by selling promising youngster Ilaix Moriba to RB Leipzig and shipping off Emerson to Spurs. Then, late on Tuesday, Griezmann, who cost Barca €120m in 2019, was sent back to Atleti. Luuk de Jong, a target man Ronald Koeman worked with during his stint as the Netherlands' coach, was drafted in from Sevilla as a replacement. Memphis Depay seems ready to step up after his arrival from Lyon, while Eric Garcia and Sergio Aguero also came in on free transfers, though Gerard Pique, Sergi Roberto, Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets were among the players who took pay cuts in order for Barca to register their latest acquisitions.

Inter

Serie A champions Inter were dealt a blow when, just after ending their 11-year trophy drought, coach Antonio Conte left the club. Financial difficulties meant the Nerrazurri had to cash in on prized assets, and Hakimi and subsequently Lukaku followed Conte out of the door. Lautaro Martinez did stay, however, with Inter reinvesting some of the funds to sign Netherlands right-back Denzel Dumfries, Roma striker Edin Dzeko and Lazio forward Juan Correa. Hakan Calhanoglu, meanwhile, joined from rivals Milan on loan, though it is difficult to see that being enough for Inter to challenge on all fronts this season.

 

Juventus

While Inter were weakened, it has to be said that Juventus – surely their closest rivals in the Scudetto hunt – also had a disappointing window. Like many European clubs, they have been hit hard by COVID-19, though appeared well set to challenge again after reappointing Massimiliano Allegri. However, Ronaldo decided he wanted out late in the window, and Juve did not stand in his way. An initial fee of £12.86m (€15m), payable over five years, was agreed with United, and Ronaldo left just like that. Moise Kean returned from Everton on a two-year loan with an obligation to buy as a replacement, while Manuel Locatelli was their other major acquisition and Weston McKennie's move from Schalke was made permanent. Based on the performance in Sunday's defeat to Empoli, however, Juve are far from the force they were during Allegri's last spell in charge.

Real Madrid

For a time last week, it really did look as though Madrid were going to end the window in sensational fashion. Three bids were lodged for Mbappe, but PSG did not buckle. Madrid did move for another French youngster – Edouardo Camavinga, who joined from Rennes on Tuesday – but overall it must be considered a poor window. Los Blancos allowed Ramos to leave on a free and sold long-time defensive partner Varane - just the eight Champions League winners' medals between them. Martin Odegaard was deemed surplus to requirements by Carlo Ancelotti and sold to Arsenal, though no buyers were found for fringe players Luka Jovic or Dani Ceballos. David Alaba's arrival on a free transfer from Bayern Munich at least softened the blow of Ramos' departure, and Mbappe may well be on board in 2022.

Manchester City

City broke the British transfer record to sign Jack Grealish from Aston Villa, who in turn have made smart acquisitions such as Danny Ings, Leon Bailey and Emiliano Buendia. While another attacking midfielder was more of a luxury than a necessity, City did miss out on Kane and then seemingly saw Ronaldo snatched from under their noses by United, though the club have claimed it is they who pulled out of the deal. Pep Guardiola went into the window wanting an out-and-out number nine following Aguero's departure, but for now the Premier League champions will have to carry on with makeshift forwards, it seems. Not that it did them much harm in 5-0 routs of Norwich City and Arsenal last month. Meanwhile, wantaway playmaker Bernardo Silva is still at the club, though he will remain a first-team regular.

Liverpool 

Unlike their league rivals, Liverpool never seemed focused on spending big. The Reds instead turned their attention to tying down the futures of key players, with Jordan Henderson, Virgil van Dijk, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Alisson, Fabinho and Andrew Robertson signing new deals. Ibrahima Konate came in from RB Leipzig to boost the defence – a clear area of weakness last season during an injury crisis – though Jurgen Klopp's squad does seem weaker. They have started the season well, but it remains to be seen how they cope without Wijnaldum and even Xherdan Shaqiri should injuries trouble them again.

Antoine Griezmann and Saul Niguez were the big names to move late on deadline day, with Atletico Madrid having a busy night.

Griezmann's move to his former club completed a day of outgoings for Barcelona, who sold Emerson Royal and Ilaix Moriba, as well as loaning out Ray Minaj.

Ronald Koeman's Barca did get one player in, however, who will seemingly replace Griezmann in attack.

Barca's LaLiga rivals Real Madrid did not manage to get a mega deal for Kylian Mbappe over the line, despite a reported bid of €200m having been lodged on Tuesday, though Los Blancos did sign Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga.

Cristiano Ronaldo's move back to Manchester United was confirmed early on, but there was plenty of late action in England, too.

 

Another returning king as Chelsea call on Saul

Romelu Lukaku back to Chelsea. Ronaldo back to United. Now, Griezmann has made a return to one of his former clubs, with the 30-year-old re-joining LaLiga champions Atleti on a season-long loan.

There is an option to make the deal permanent for €40million – just the €80million less than Barca paid for the France forward in 2019.

Replacing Griezmann at Barca is Luuk de Jong, with Koeman turning to his compatriot from Sevilla. Messi to De Jong... not quite the end to the window Barca fans would have had in mind.

Saul, meanwhile, is leaving LaLiga. He has joined Chelsea on a loan deal from Atleti, with an option to buy for a reported £30m.

 

No Madrid move for Mbappe... yet

A third Madrid bid for Mbappe was reportedly lodged, and ignored, on Tuesday, as Florentino Perez's obsessive hunt of the Paris Saint-Germain star proved fruitless.

However, Mbappe is out of contract next year, so he may well be a Galactico soon enough.

One player who will be playing in the famous all-white strip this season is teenage midfielder Camavinga, who has joined from Rennes.

As well as keeping Mbappe, PSG added to their squad, completing a stellar transfer window by signing Sporting CP left-back Nuno Mendes to fill what has proved a problem position. Pablo Sarabia went the other way.

In Italy, Milan marked a quiet end to the window overall by confirming the signings of Yacine Adli and Messias Junior.

Inter already had their business done, while Juventus confirmed Moise Kean's return on Tuesday morning. The Bianconeri also signed Mohamed Ihattaren, who was then loaned to Sampdoria.

Ronaldo headlines Premier League moves

The early confirmation of Ronaldo's move back to United being complete was the biggest story of the day in England's top flight. It also paved the way for the Red Devils to sell Daniel James, who moved to Leeds United.

Arsenal blocked Everton's attempts to sign Ainsley Maitland-Niles, though Hector Bellerin did leave the Gunners to head to Real Betis on loan. Mikel Arteta's Gunners completed their record-breaking transfer window (in terms of overall spend) with the acquisition of Japan defender Takehiro Tomiyasu from Bologna. Earlier in the day, Arsenal loaned out Reiss Nelson and Alex Runarsson.

Their north London rivals Tottenham completed the signing of Emerson from Barca, with Serge Aurier's time at Spurs subsequently being brought to an end by the mutual termination of his contract.

Everton's hunt for a right-back was to no avail. The Toffees did bring in Salomon Rondon on a free transfer, handing the forward a two-year deal with an option for a third. James Rodriguez was involved in a mooted part-exchange deal with Porto for Luis Diaz, but the Colombian star is staying put.

Manchester City rounded off their dealings by sending out seven players on loan. Among them was Patrick Roberts, who was one of three players to join Ligue 1 club Troyes.

Wolves were unable to complete deals for Kieffer Moore or Boubacar Kamara. A late offer from Spurs for Adama Traore was reportedly rejected.

Czech Republic midfielder Alex Kral joined West Ham on loan from Spartak Moscow. He was the Hammers' second signing of the day, with Croatia playmaker Nikola Vlasic having arrived early on.

There were two outgoings at Celtic. Scotland international Ryan Christie signed for Bournemouth, while Crystal Palace bought striker Odsonne Edouard for a reported £15m. The Hoops replaced him with Greece forward Giorgos Giakoumakis.

France will be without N'Golo Kante for their World Cup qualifier against Bosnia-Herzegovina on Wednesday, Didier Deschamps has confirmed.

The Chelsea midfielder aggravated an ankle injury during the 1-1 draw with Liverpool at the weekend.

Sitting top of Group D with seven points from three games, Les Bleus resume their World Cup qualifying campaign with a trio of fixtures in early September.

However, the reigning world champions will be unable to call upon Kante for the first of those, which takes place in Strasbourg.

Addressing the media on Tuesday, head coach Deschamps said: "Kante will be too soon for tomorrow. 

"There are too many risks; he will not be used tomorrow."

 

Meanwhile, Hugo Lloris believes Kylian Mbappe will not be bothered by the recent speculation linking him with a blockbuster move to Real Madrid.

The forward has made a bright start to the Ligue 1 season with three goals in Paris Saint-Germain's first four games, including a brace in Sunday's 2-0 win over Reims as Lionel Messi made his debut for the club.

"As you could see, he was very focused in the last game. He is very professional," Lloris said.

"He was decisive in the first four matches. It shows that he respects his club and is ready to perform. 

"There is a lot of agitation around him, it's normal, but he knows how to make the difference to help the French team."

France are looking to bounce back having exited Euro 2020 in the round of 16 following defeat to Switzerland on penalties.

Lloris revealed that following positive discussions within the camp, he and his team-mates are hungry to make amends with a fresh approach.

"We highlighted what was less successful, but there were also good things –especially in the group stage – which were quite successful," the goalkeeper added.

"We switch to something new, fresh. Everyone must participate in giving a new impetus.

"We are positive. We have very little time to prepare for the match, but there is desire."

Kylian Mbappe's future is not being discussed within the France squad amid strong links to Real Madrid, according to Les Bleus duo Moussa Diaby and Aurelien Tchouameni.

Madrid have reportedly been in negotiations with Paris Saint-Germain in a bid to prise Mbappe from the Ligue 1 giants to the LaLiga powerhouse, though a transfer is yet to materialise.

Mbappe has one year remaining on his contract but Madrid are determined to sign the 22-year-old – who has scored 133 goals in 174 games for PSG, at a rate of one goal every 102.46 minutes – before the end of the transfer window.

The intense speculation comes with Mbappe away on international duty as France prepare for three World Cup qualifiers against Bosnia-Herzegovina (Wednesday), Ukraine (Saturday) and Finland (September 7).

When asked about Mbappe's future, Diaby – who could make his France debut – told reporters: "I spoke with Kylian. He congratulated me on my first call up.

"We ate, we laughed together. We didn't talk about his future. His situation is his own business. I have nothing to say about that."

Diaby played alongside Mbappe at PSG before the 22-year-old left the French capital for Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen in 2019.

"He is an extraordinary player," Diaby said. "I don't think that Kylian is still considered a 'youngster' because of what he does on the pitch.

"I have to take a leaf out of his book and ask him for some advice to reach my full potential. Try to be like Kylian. When he came the first time, it couldn't have been easy either. By asking him for some advice, everything can go well for me."

Monaco's Tchouameni, who also received his first international call-up amid links with Chelsea and Manchester United, added: "Quite honestly, we didn't talk about that [Mbappe's future].

"We talked about the different results of our teams in the last weekend. We didn't talk about the transfer market with Kylian anyway."

Mauricio Pochettino revealed how Lionel Messi has already had an impact on his Paris Saint-Germain team-mates after the new superstar signing made his long-awaited debut for the club.

Messi was introduced as a 66th-minute substitute during PSG's 2-0 win over Reims on Sunday, coming on to replace former Barcelona colleague Neymar in the Ligue 1 fixture.

His brief cameo saw him complete 20 of his 21 attempted passes while he was also fouled three times, the six-time Ballon d'Or winner having received a rousing reception upon his introduction from both the home and away fans inside the stadium.

Pochettino was pleased to see his fellow Argentinian settle in quickly to life in French football, revealing how the 34-year-old's presence has lifted his squad as they bid to reclaim the league title.

"He brought serenity to the team. It's important to get off to a good start, even for him," the PSG head coach said after Messi's maiden appearance.

"He was happy and he is well integrated into the group. It was a matter of common sense not to start him in this game.

"The welcome was something very beautiful to see and hear, from our supporters but also from the fans of Reims. Messi was very happy about it.

"The motivation for competition is there for everyone, but his presence brings optimism. Everyone feels it, he has an influence on the other players."

 

While Messi may have been the main attraction heading into the fixture, Kylian Mbappe stole the show with both goals.

His brace amid speculation over his future helped PSG make it four wins from four at the start of the new league campaign, leaving them top of the table heading into the international break.

Pochettino was particularly pleased to keep a first clean sheet this term too, albeit they benefited from a VAR check that ruled out a possible Reims equaliser for offside.

"It is a significant success for us. We didn't concede a goal, which was one of our main targets before this match," the former Tottenham boss told the media.

"This is not always obvious because the fitness levels are very different from one another. Some players were returning today.

"We are at 12 points. I'm happy before these two weeks of international break."

Crack open the bubbly. In France's City of Kings, at the heart of the Champagne region, Lionel Messi made his Paris Saint-Germain entrance as footballing royalty arrived in the 'farmers' league'.

There's a new king in town and although we saw only half an hour of Messi at Reims' Stade Auguste-Delaune, you could hardly take your eye off the man.

Incongruous in the blue of PSG as he was, this is Messi's lot now, the future he has chosen since his Barcelona career ended in a flood of tears.

Ligue 1 gets a rough rap but Messi's arrival instantly makes it box office, and those beholding this spectacle were given a peak into what we should expect.

There was a word in the ear from Mauricio Pochettino and then a hug for Neymar, as Messi replaced the world's most expensive footballer midway through the second half, moments after Kylian Mbappe scored his and PSG's second goal of what turned out to be a 2-0 win.

There was to be no Messi goal, as much as it appeared many inside the stadium were willing there to be one, particularly the pogoing PSG ultras.

His entrance and then his first touch, a simple 10-yard pass deep inside his own half, were cheered loudly, and it was not long before Messi was collecting the ball and charging forward, driving at pace through midfield and darting towards the penalty area.

Such a familiar sight, and here Messi had the luxury of being able to offload to Mbappe on the right. Mbappe, the player Real Madrid desperately want and might yet get before transfer window closes.

Then came notice from the union of Ligue 1 hardmen that Messi would not have it easy in France.

As Mbappe collected the pass, Messi was given the no-nonsense treatment twice by backtracking Reims players as he sought the return ball, Marshall Munetsi practically grabbing the six-time Ballon d'Or winner around the collar in a fruitless effort to halt his progress.

Mbappe could not quite pick the pass, with Messi surrounded, but it was a moment where you wondered what a rich harvest of goals that combination might produce, and whether we might see its potential come to fruition this season.

 

Munetsi hacked down Messi again later as the game reached stoppage time. Naturally, Messi has seen it all before. It was handshakes all round at the end.

It might be a different shirt, but this was the same old Messi. There was the thrill of one of those delicious give-and-go movements, and referee Francois Letexier played six minutes of stoppage time too. Why not see a little more?

Deep beneath the streets of Reims lie 200 kilometres of cellars and tunnels housing the finest bottles of bubbles, produced in these parts and maturing underground before being dispatched worldwide.

It pays to be patient, the subterranean conditions bringing the best out of the local delicacy before it reaches its fullest flavour. Bring a bottle out too soon and the product will fall short of the exacting standards 

Messi's 65 minutes on the bench allowed him to size up the pace of the French game at close quarters, and then he was ripe to be released. The cork is out of the bottle now though, and the thrill of Messi at provincial stadiums such as this is one fans will drink in for as long as this stop-off lasts.

He was fouled three times in all, a joint team high alongside Neymar, had 26 touches, and made 95.2 per cent of his passes (20 of 21). He won four of his five duels – those within the laws of the game – and no doubt delighted Pochettino and his Qatari paymasters.

PSG brought their imported grandes marques to a city that exports its homegrown fizzy finery, where the cathedral has witnessed 31 coronations, and they won with goals from a young player they might be dispatching to foreign climes within a matter of hours in return for a king's ransom.

Perhaps Mbappe might just fancy a full season of this, though. Will his partnership with Messi really be a one-night stand?

As jarring as watching this all unfold must have felt in Barcelona, as bitter an aftertaste as it must have left, all it lacked for the Parisians was the crowning glory of a Messi goal, and they will soon be flowing.

Mauricio Pochettino described it as a "gift" to have Kylian Mbappe after the forward demonstrated his abilities with both goals in Paris Saint-Germain's 2-0 win over Reims.

Mbappe has been the centre of much transfer speculation having apparently told the club he wants to leave. Real Madrid are seemingly the only runner in the race to sign a player who is in the final year of his current contract at PSG.

There was no questioning his commitment to his current employers on Sunday, though, as the 22-year-old scored twice at Stade Auguste Delaune, in the process overshadowing a debut appearance off the bench for new recruit Lionel Messi.

Madrid have reportedly had two bids rejected for Mbappe, with sporting director Leonardo making clear PSG hope he stays in the French capital.

"Kylian is our player," Pochettino said in his post-match interview on Amazon Prime after a fourth straight win at the start of the new Ligue 1 season.

"You know in football there are rumours, but I think our president and our sporting director are very clear, he is here. 

"We are very happy to have him here, that is. He is one of the best players in the world. It's a gift to have him."

Mbappe has scored or assisted a goal in each of his past nine games in Ligue 1 (10 goals, three assists). 

Both goals against Reims came from crosses, with the opener headed in from Angel Di Maria's delivery. Achraf Hakimi was the provider for number two in the second half, albeit only after the home team had seen a potential equaliser ruled out by VAR for offside.

"Of course we like to play with the strongest and Kylian has shown that he's a great striker," PSG midfielder Marco Verratti told Amazon Prime after the final whistle.

"It's not today that we discover Kylian. He's a phenomenon, everyone expects a lot from him. Sometimes we wait until he misses a game to fall on him but we know him, we are very happy with him."

PSG are unbeaten in 11 Ligue 1 away games (W10 D1), their longest unbeaten run away from home in the top flight since a 17-match streak between February 2018 and January 2019.

A home clash with Clermont is up next for Pochettino's squad, albeit not until after the international break, by which time Mbappe could well have departed for Spain.

Lionel Messi is poised to make a brief Paris Saint-Germain debut after being left on the bench for their Ligue 1 game at Reims.

Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, the latter heavily linked with a move to Real Madrid, were both included in Mauricio Pochettino's starting XI at the Stade Auguste-Delaune.

Pochettino opted to leave Messi out of PSG's win over Brest last time out despite the former Barcelona star training with his new team-mates following his sensational exit from Camp Nou.

However, he confirmed to Amazon Prime on Sunday that Messi would at least play a cameo role against Reims.

He said: "He's [Lionel Messi] is going to be on the bench.

"He arrived late in the pre-season. He's working hard, he can have a few minutes today to start helping the team."

Kylian Mbappe is at the centre of one of the biggest transfer stories as the deadline approaches, but he was still named in Paris Saint-Germain's squad on Sunday as Lionel Messi looks set for his debut.

Mbappe has been the subject of two bids from LaLiga giants Real Madrid, though PSG are reportedly refusing to enter negotiations for the 22-year-old, who only has a season left to run on his deal.

Whether PSG buckle before Tuesday's deadline remains to be seen, but Mbappe trained as usual this week and Mauricio Pochettino insisted on Saturday that the France star had not told him he wished to leave the club.

Pochettino also confirmed Mbappe, along with Messi and fellow superstar forward Neymar, would travel for the clash with Reims and all three were subsequently named in the 22-man squad revealed on Sunday.

Mbappe scored his first goal of the Ligue 1 season in last week's 4-2 win over Brest, while Messi is still awaiting his debut since a shock move from Barcelona earlier this month.

Neymar, who guided Brazil to the Copa America final – a clash that Messi's Argentina won 1-0 – also makes his return to the fold having missed PSG's first three matches this season.

Angel Di Maria scored Argentina's winner against Brazil and also netted on his comeback against Brest, and with Mauro Icardi injured, Pochettino seems likely to pick three of the aforementioned players to start at Stade Auguste-Delaune.

"Kylian Mbappe is working very hard and is preparing for [Sunday's] game," Pochettino said on Saturday.

"In terms of communications with our president and sporting director, they have made it clear what the club's stance is in this regard."

Asked for an update on the situation after Madrid's win over Real Betis, Carlo Ancelotti told reporters: "We should stick to talking about the game because the rest is a matter for the club, who are working on it.

"I don't know the details at this stage."

Kylian Mbappe is dominating headlines amid Real Madrid's pursuit.

Madrid are keen to prise Mbappe to the LaLiga club, though Paris Saint-Germain are in no hurry to part with the soon-to-be free agent.

Due to PSG's tough stance, Madrid could back out of negotiations.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID GIVE PSG ULTIMATUM

Real Madrid could walk away from their pursuit of Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, according to Le Parisien.

While Mbappe is out of contract at the end of the season, Madrid have been attempting to prise the Frenchman from PSG before the transfer window shuts.

The report claims Madrid will walk away from negotiations if a deal is not completed by Sunday.

There has been talk that PSG could target Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland as a replacement for Mbappe.

 

ROUND-UP

Lautaro Martinez has agreed to sign a new contract with Inter, per Gianluca Di Marzio. Out of contract in 2023, the Argentina international – linked with the likes of Barcelona, Tottenham, Manchester City and Manchester United – will re-sign for four to five years at €6million per season.

Willian will join Corinthians on a free transfer after Arsenal granted his release, says Fabrizio Romano.

- Romano also claims Feyenoord are close to bringing United sensation Amad Diallo to the Eredivisie club on loan.

- Widespread reports say Moise Kean is set to undergo a medical at Juventus as he gears up to join from Everton. It comes as Cristiano Ronaldo prepares to return to United. Juve are also eyeing PSG forward Mauro Icardi.

Dortmund are working on a loan deal for Chelsea's Callum Hudson-Odoi, according to Sky Germany. Hudson-Odoi has long been coveted by Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich. Dortmund are also looking to bring in United full-back Diogo Dalot.

Chelsea are nearing a transfer that will see Jules Kounde arrive from Sevilla after Kurt Zouma departed for West Ham, reports Goal. Chelsea are also reportedly still targeting Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez, who is wanted by United.

Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti dismissed speculation regarding Paris Saint-Germain star and Los Blancos transfer target Kylian Mbappe.

Madrid are reportedly in negotiations with PSG in a bid to prise Mbappe from Paris amid talk of a €170million offer plus €10million in add-ons for the France international.

Mbappe has one year remaining on his contract but Madrid are determined to sign the 22-year-old – who has scored 133 goals in 174 games for PSG – at a rate of one goal every 102.46 minutes – before the end of the transfer window.

Ancelotti was asked about Mbappe after Madrid defeated Real Betis 1-0 on Saturday, however he was unwilling to shed light on the possibility of the Frenchman moving to the Santiago Bernabeu.

"We should stick to talking about the game because the rest is a matter for the club, who are working on it," Ancelotti told reporters.

"I don't know the details at this stage."

Dani Carvajal's sublime second-half volley secured a hard-earned win for Madrid at Betis.

Carvajal had not scored for Los Blancos since November 2019, but the fit-again full-back marked his return to the side with a second-half finish after being teed up by Karim Benzema.

Benzema has been involved in five goals in his opening three games of a LaLiga season (two goals and three assists) for the first time in his Madrid career.

"The first 45 minutes was much more level and much more so than the second half," Ancelotti said when asked about Benzema.

"We tried to win the ball high up the pitch as quickly as possible and that's where [Karim] Benzema struggled a bit because he had to sit a bit deeper to try and win the ball back when we weren't in possession.

"But I think Karim made the difference today again because he had a very good cross into the box for Carvajal, and we won the game."

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