Lionel Messi's Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Marco Verratti says it is easy to forget the six-time Ballon d'Or winner is a "perfectly normal person".

Messi's arrival at PSG garnered huge fanfare and interest and Verratti admitted players treated the Argentinean as the "king of the locker room" upon his arrival.

However, the Italy international said now he had got to know Messi he had realised that he is a "simple guy".

"We forget at times that Messi is a perfectly normal person like everyone else," Verratti told Sky Sport Italia.

"It was a difficult start for him, he is settling in more and more, we welcomed him like a king to the locker room and it’s a privilege to play alongside him.

"He’s spectacular and enjoys himself in training too. He’s a really simple guy without airs and I like people like him, because I am the same. We get along both on and off the field."

Messi scored a Barcelona club-record 672 goals across 778 appearances, and has netted four goals in nine games in all competitions for PSG since his August move.

Sergio Ramos was another big off-season addition for PSG, signing as a free agent from Real Madrid and he is homing in on his long-awaited debut after a calf injury.

PSG head coach Mauricio Pochettino has admitted that Ramos is in contention to debut against Manchester City in the Champions League on Wednesday and Verratti was excited about his potential impact.

"Sergio Ramos is a player who needs no introduction," Verratti added. "He has done great things with Real Madrid for many years.

"When we played against him, it was difficult to counter him because he is a player with a great personality, who understands the game well, what he has to do. He is a dangerous player in attack, he is a player who defends well, he is a complete player.

"He has shown that throughout his career. We are happy that he can return to the group. It was already a pleasure to train with him during the week. I think that when he's at his best, he can help us a lot. "

Sergio Ramos has taken "a massive step" in his Paris Saint-Germain career by putting himself in contention to face Manchester City, according to Mauricio Pochettino.

Although former Real Madrid captain Ramos appears only likely to make the bench for Wednesday's heavyweight battle at the Etihad Stadium, he is closer than ever to a long-awaited debut.

Rumours had circulated that PSG were considering getting rid of close-season recruit Ramos before he reached this point, as he battled back from a calf problem.

Yet Pochettino is now planning to include him as a key figure in his team, as soon as the Spain legend is fully fit.

He was physically ready enough to travel to England and give Pochettino an option, with the PSG head coach saying ahead of the game: "Sergio is doing well in the last week.

"It was a joy for him and for the team to be involved in the training session, and then he needs to build his fitness step by step. I think a very good step, a massive step, is to be involved here in the game. That is very important.

"Not only is it a first step, but it's a massive step for him to be involved. Then we will think to give, when the opportunity arrives, maybe the possibility to play."

Pochettino said watching Ramos progress from this point would be key, as he attempts to match his team-mates pace for pace.

PSG midfielder Marco Verratti enthused about the prospect of lining up in the same team as the 35-year-old Champions League great, who has won this competition four times.

As PSG hunt down a first triumph at the highest level in Europe, having a sharp Ramos at the heart of their defence later in the tournament could make all the difference.

"Sergio Ramos is a player who needs no introduction," said Verratti. "He achieved so much at Real Madrid over many years, and he is always a difficult player to face. He has so much personality. He understands the game and what he needs to do.

"He is great in attack and a fantastic defender. He has shown how good he is throughout his career. We are pleased he is in the squad, and the fact he has been training with us has already been fantastic. He is now in better shape, and he can really help this team."

Ramos only made 15 LaLiga appearances in his final season at Madrid, and last played in May when Los Blancos went down to Chelsea in the Champions League.

However, he stands joint ninth on the list of players with the most Champions League appearances, having played in the competition 129 times. He has won 79 of those games, the most by a defender.

His 15 goals have only been beaten by Roberto Carlos and Gerard Pique (both 16) among defenders, and Barcelona stalwart Pique is the only defender to have made more headed clearances than Ramos (313 to 293).

Kylian Mbappe missed training with PSG on Monday, but the forward was back on the pitch with his team-mates in Manchester on Tuesday evening.

Pochettino said: "Kylian Mbappe is doing well today. Yesterday, he could not train. But we hope it is a small issue."

The Argentine coach said he hoped Mbappe would be "in the best condition possible" for the game.

PSG are close to securing a place in the last-16 stage, and a win on Wednesday would assure them of a top-two finish in Group A.

Should Mbappe feature, as seems likely, it would be his 50th appearance in the Champions League. That would make him the second-youngest outfield player to reach 50 games in the Champions League at 22 years and 339 days, behind only Cesc Fabregas (22y 331d).

Mauricio Pochettino says his future is "not debatable" as he is happy at Paris Saint-Germain amid reports that he is Manchester United's top target to replace Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

United sacked Solskjaer on Sunday following a 4-1 Premier League thrashing at Watford and placed Michael Carrick in temporary charge.

The Red Devils stated that they plan to appoint an interim boss until the end of the season, but there has been increasing talk that they are set to make an approach for Pochettino to take the role on a permanent basis before then.

Former Tottenham head coach Pochettino insisted he is not looking to leave PSG as the Ligue 1 side prepare to face Manchester City in the Champions League on Wednesday.

He told the media on Tuesday: "I thought I was clear. I said I have a contract for 2023. This season and next. I'm happy at PSG. It's a fact. It's not debatable, I'm happy in Paris."

The 49-year-old Argentine only took over as PSG head coach in January and says he is focused on the job in hand.

Asked again about being linked with United, he said: "We are not here to talk about that. I respect my club, PSG. What the other club does, it does not concern me.

"I am not going to comment on it because everything I am going to say or not will be used. When I was at Espanyol I said I wanted to get to know Sir Alex [former United boss Ferguson].

"If I say it again it will be taken back. I'm happy in Paris. I love the club, I love the supporters. It's wonderful to be at PSG. We have a point lead in Ligue 1 and we face City. "

He added: "Football is today and not tomorrow. In football only results count. Two years ago I left Tottenham and a month before, there were rumours. You have to live in the present, to think that I will stay for life, where I am today.

"But it all depends on the results in football. For the future, we must build our way of playing, have fun and have good results."

Manchester United should move to appoint Mauricio Pochettino as their new manager immediately rather than wait until the end of the season if he is their first choice, according to former Old Trafford hero Mark Hughes.

United sacked Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on Sunday in the wake of a humiliating 4-1 defeat to promoted Watford a day earlier, but the writing was already on the wall.

After an inconsistent start to the 2021-22 campaign, the beginning of the end for Solskjaer was arguably the 5-0 home loss to Liverpool on October 24.

That thrashing by Jurgen Klopp's side set several unwanted records, including United's largest margin of defeat against their fierce rivals at home and the first time the Red Devils had trailed by four goals at half-time in the Premier League.

Michael Carrick has been installed in temporary charge until United can hire an interim manager to guide them through to the end of the season, a somewhat peculiar and convoluted process that in itself has attracted criticism.

Numerous coaches have been credited with interest in the role, with Paris Saint-Germain boss Pochettino – strongly linked to United in the past – seemingly chief among them, and Hughes thinks the club need to have the courage of their convictions if the Argentinian is the man they want.

"In terms of resources, to be able to get a top manager out of a top club, clearly United are one of the few clubs that are able to do that," Hughes told talkSPORT. "I think for a long time United have coveted Pochettino.

"I think they've wined and dined him [in the past], I think he's been out with Sir Alex [Ferguson]. I think that was well documented a few years ago.

"I think he's well thought of within the corridors of United, so it wouldn't surprise me if he's the one they really want. Whether or not he's able to come to the club quickly, that's an issue for them.

"I think if he's the man, they should just go out and go get him. This interim-to-interim position doesn't seem to be the right way to go about it.

"But clearly, if they have to wait, they seem prepared to do that. I just feel it's Pochettino that they really, really want."

Former Tottenham head coach Pochettino has only been in charge at PSG since January, though there have been rumours of friction between him and sporting director Leonardo.

Speculation has suggested that PSG would be willing for Pochettino to leave, assuming a compensation package can be agreed and they have a replacement lined up.

Zinedine Zidane, also linked to United but said to have little interest in moving to England, has been mentioned as a likely candidate to replace Pochettino at PSG.

Pochettino is in Manchester this week as PSG face Manchester City on Wednesday in the Champions League – United begin the post-Solskjaer era away to Villarreal on Tuesday.

Pep Guardiola has insisted a lack of trophies does not stop Mauricio Pochettino from being considered among the world's top managers.

Paris Saint-Germain boss Pochettino has been widely tipped as the leading contender to take over at Manchester United following Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's sacking on Sunday.

Pochettino arrived at the Parc des Princes in January and missed out on Ligue 1 and Champions League success in his first half-season in charge.

However, the Argentinian has lifted the Trophee des Champions and Coupe de France this year – his first cup triumphs following five trophyless years with Tottenham.

With speculation mounting that Pochettino is interested in the United job, Guardiola has defended the ex-Espanyol and Southampton coach's major trophies record.

"I am sure managers become better every year. Every season you have a lot of learnings. I am pretty sure [Pochettino] is an excellent manager," he said ahead of City's showdown with PSG on Wednesday.

"You can be a top manager and not win titles. For the managers who have a chance to win, it is because you are at top clubs with good investment and top players. 

"That doesn't mean managers in the Championship or not at the top of the Premier League aren't excellent managers."

City welcome PSG to the Etihad Stadium requiring a point to secure a place in the last 16 of the Champions League, while a win will seal top spot in Group A with a game to spare.

PSG are winless in three games on their travels in the competition and could go without an away victory throughout the group stage for the first time since 2004-05.

English champions City were beaten 2-0 in the reverse fixture in Paris two months ago, with Lionel Messi getting off the mark with his first of four goals for PSG to date in all competitions.

PSG's travelling party is packed full of superstar attackers and Guardiola acknowledged there is little advice he can give his players when it comes to stopping Messi in particular.

"It's so difficult. Sometimes when he has the ball he doesn't know what he's going to do – so imagine you have to know what he is going to do," Guardiola said.

"There are players who you can say if they will go right or left. When he has the ball, not even he knows exactly what he is going to do.

"I cannot tell the players what he will do, but hey, it happens with Neymar and [Kylian] Mbappe, with [Angel] Di Maria, with all the players up front in this team.

"Every player could be a complete star in any team around the world, and all four are in the same team. But I am still glad and happy that he is still playing at the level he plays."

City have scored 15 goals in the Champions League so far this season, a tally bettered only by Bayern Munich's 17, with the Citizens averaging 3.4 expected goals per game.

Last year's beaten finalists are averaging a goal every 37 minutes in all competitions this term, meanwhile, despite playing without a recognised striker through the middle.

Guardiola, who is hopeful of having Jack Grealish back from injury in midweek, explained that playing with or without a number nine is not too dissimilar.

"If a full back goes into midfield you can say he is an attacking midfielder, for example" he said.

"The movements of the players – on the tactics board you put out the names, but after, everyone has permission to drive in the box and has permission to get back and help."

Zinedine Zidane is not interested in the Manchester United job but he could replace the man who gets it. 

The hottest name in the mix at Old Trafford is Mauricio Pochettino. 

Paris Saint-Germain could have a replacement for him ready and waiting. 

 

TOP STORY – POCHETTINO, ZIDANE IN DELICATE DANCE

Manchester United's manager opening could set off a chain reaction, reports Marca. 

With Mauricio Pochettino perhaps interested in a way out at Paris Saint-Germain, he could head to Old Trafford. 

That would leave the PSG job to Zinedine Zidane, who has made it clear he is not interested in moving to Manchester. 

The Mirror reports United would have to pay PSG €10million (£8.4m) for Pochettino, but Marca says PSG's players believe Zidane's arrival at the Parc des Princes could be "imminent". 

 

 ROUND-UP

- Bayern Munich are willing to make Pedri their most expensive signing ever if they can lure him from Barcelona despite his €1billion release clause, reports AS. 

- If Alexandre Lacazette leaves Arsenal for LaLiga, he would prefer Atletico Madrid over Barca, according to El Nacional. Milan and Marseille also reportedly are interested in the 30-year-old. 

- Renato Sanches could be headed for Milan after the season, reports Calciomercato, with Arsenal and Barca also linked to the Lille midfielder. 

- Villarreal are eyeing Fulham's Aleksandar Mitrovic for a January move, reports the Mirror. 

Manchester United's managerial post is vacant after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked on Sunday.

Solskjaer had led United since December 2018 but failed to win a trophy, finishing runners-up in last season's Premier League and Europa League.

The lean spell has United desperate to return to their former glories with their next managerial appointment.

 

TOP STORY – ZIDANE NOT KEEN ON MAN UTD JOB

World Cup winner and ex-Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane is not interested in the vacant Manchester United job, reports BBC Sport.

Zidane left Madrid in May after failing to win LaLiga and has been linked with a host of roles since.

United have approached the 49-year-old about their vacant post but he is not interested in the position at this point.

 ROUND-UP

- Fichajes claims that reported United target Mauricio Pochettino would put Tottenham's Harry Kane at the top of his wishlist if he got the Red Devils job. The current Paris Saint-Germain boss is among those linked with the vacant post. The Telegraph claims that Pochettino is open to moving to Old Trafford at the end of this season.

- Ajax boss Erik ten Hag is United's second choice behind Pochettino reports Sky Sports, while The Sun claims the Red Devils have already approached Leicester City's Brendan Rodgers.

- Sport claims that new Barcelona boss Xavi wants to sign Al-Sadd's Algeria international striker Baghdad Bounedjah. Xavi coached Al-Sadd until taking over at Barca earlier this month.

- Tottenham may make a move for Roma midfielder Nicolo Zaniolo who is unhappy at the club, claims Calciomercato.

- Fichajes reports that Real Madrid have an interest in Mason Mount, who is currently in talks with Chelsea on a new deal. Manchester City and Bayern Munich are also interested in Mount's services.

Manchester United's 4-1 embarrassment at the hands of Watford proved to be the final straw for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The Red Devils have performed poorly this season, losing five of their past seven Premier League fixtures, with the loss at Vicarage Road their heaviest defeat against a promoted side since September 1989.

Saturday's demolition may have been the final nail, but a 5-0 crushing by Liverpool on October 24 seemed to make Solskjaer's departure a case of when, not if. 

The thrashing by Jurgen Klopp's side set several unwanted records, including United's largest margin of defeat against Liverpool at home and the first time the Red Devils had trailed by four goals at half-time in the Premier League.

Solskjaer only signed a new three-year deal with an option for an additional year in July, but disappointing results – including a home humbling by Manchester City since the Liverpool game – have forced the Norwegian out before a Champions League trip to Villarreal.

With Solskjaer through the exit door, Michael Carrick is in temporary charge. But who might take his spot and be charged with guiding United back to the top? Stats Perform takes a look at some of the favourites.

Zinedine Zidane

A free agent – and a particularly glamorous option – is Zinedine Zidane. The former France star's second stint as Real Madrid boss came to an end in May, and he remains available.

Zidane won the Champions League three times in a row in his first spell as Los Blancos head coach and also claimed two LaLiga titles over his five years in the role.

The 49-year-old is the record holder for most consecutive LaLiga away wins (13) and the longest unbeaten run in Spanish football (40 games) and United would surely see him as an upgrade on Solskjaer.

Zidane has also previously coached Cristiano Ronaldo and Raphael Varane, to great success, and might be the perfect candidate to get United's stars working together cohesively. And he just may persuade Paul Pogba to stay.

Brendan Rodgers

Brendan Rodgers is less decorated than the previous name on this list, but he has a wealth of experience in the English game and has done an admirable job in his current post as Leicester City head coach, guiding the Foxes to their first FA Cup triumph last season as well as successive fifth-placed Premier League finishes.

He also claimed back-to-back domestic trebles in his two and a half seasons with Celtic, but his association with United's rivals Liverpool may prove to be an obstacle, having come within two points of winning the Premier League in his second season on Merseyside.

Rodgers has been linked to the post but said this week the reports were "disrespectful" to Solskjaer "when you have a manager in place, a good manager and a good man, who is working hard at the club". He added: "I am here as the Leicester City manager, proud to be here, privileged to be here and fully committed to the players, the club, the ownership. That's about it, all the other noise around that is something we can't control."

Mauricio Pochettino

Pochettino has reportedly long been admired by United, being regularly linked with a move to Old Trafford in his five-year spell in north London, having taken Tottenham to a Champions League final in that time.

However, the Argentine only joined Paris Saint-Germain in January and signed a contract extension until 2023 in July, and he is coaching a team that includes Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, not to mention the rest of PSG's star-studded squad.

Never say never, but this deal would certainly be a difficult one for United to pull off given the timing.

Erik ten Hag

Erik ten Hag has impressed in his time at Ajax, winning two Eredivisie titles and embarking on a memorable run to the Champions League semi-finals in 2018-19, knocking Madrid and Juventus out before going out on away goals to Pochettino's Spurs.

Ajax have been entertaining and effective under Ten Hag in Europe this term and, ahead of Sunday's game in hand at RKC Waalwijk, are three points behind title rivals PSV after beating them 5-0 earlier in the season.

However, it remains to be seen if the Dutchman – who was also linked with the Newcastle United job that Eddie Howe now occupies – would be willing to leave mid-season.

Ralf Rangnick

Ralf Rangnick, who is working for Lokomotiv Moscow as their head of sports and development but is better known for his high-pressing philosophy as a coach and his influence on some of the Bundesliga's brightest minds, could be a short-term option for United.

The 63-year-old's managerial career dates back to 1983 when he started in charge of Viktoria Backnang but – despite spells with RB Leipzig, Schalke and Hoffenheim – the German remains relatively unknown outside his homeland.

Rangnick faced United in his time with Schalke, who were defeated by Alex Ferguson's side in the 2011 Champions League semi-final as the Red Devils made their third final in four years.

Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino has revealed he did not have any concerns about Lionel Messi's Ligue 1 goal drought prior to the forward opening his account in the competition against Nantes.

Messi had made five league appearances for the capital club without scoring before netting the third goal in the 3-1 victory at the Parc des Princes on Saturday with his 20th shot in Ligue 1.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner has scored in the Champions League for PSG, however, netting three times in three games so far.

Pochettino explained that neither he nor Messi had any doubt that the goals would start to flow domestically, too, and also made a point of praising the team as a whole.

"I don't think Messi was worried about not having scored in the championship, he's a great champion, the best player in the world," Pochettino said after the game.

"He knows how to go through the most difficult times, he has patience, and it's good that he scored.

"We showed our character, but also showed the quality of the team - we played a very good first half.

"The progress of the MNM [Messi, Neymar, Kylian Mbappe]? I always said it was about making connections, spending time together, and also playing competitive matches.

"But it was the whole team that played a good game, as a whole, to allow these talented players to often find themselves in a position to create chances. Too bad we didn't score more goals in the first half."

Messi expressed his delight at opening his Ligue 1 account, finding the back of the net with a sweet strike from outside the box after receiving the ball from Mbappe.

"I am happy with this first goal, I really wanted it," Messi said to Amazon Prime. "I had several chances before in this match and in previous matches.

"I am very happy with this first goal in the championship, I had already scored in the Champions League. There had been chances, but I had not converted, so I am very happy."

Mauricio Pochettino has confirmed Sergio Ramos is closer to finally making his Paris Saint-Germain debut, four months after arriving from Real Madrid.

The Spain international signed on a free transfer in July but has been sidelined with a knee injury.

Speaking at a media conference ahead of Saturday's Ligue 1 clash with Nantes, the PSG head coach said that Ramos is back in training and could be in contention to make the squad.

"Sergio Ramos has been doing well. He has trained with the squad three times and is making good progress. We are pleased and will see if he is available for tomorrow, or for an upcoming game," Pochettino said.

When asked about Ramos's mindset and frustration at not being able to play, the Argentine added: "A World Cup winner like Sergio Ramos with his competitive level and mentality is going to find it difficult to accept not playing as much as he would like.

"But he is very strong. He is working extremely hard, and we think he is making good progress. We have to be patient, as he has been. That speaks to his maturity.

"He is coping well with the [training] workload and that is an important step for him to get closer to playing."

 

A medical update from the club earlier on Friday confirmed Rafinha, Alexandre Letellier, Julian Draxler and Gianluigi Donnarumma will miss the weekend’s game, but Pochettino is expected to have Neymar, Lionel Messi and Leandro Paredes back available, with the latter two both featuring for Argentina during the international break.

On Neymar, Pochettino said: "He has trained well today. I am not certain, but I think he will be able to be in the squad for tomorrow."

The former Tottenham boss was also asked if he felt he has made his mark on this PSG team since arriving in January.

"I think there are many signs of identity that are transmitted based on who we are, and that goes for the coaching staff and the players," Pochettino added.

"Sometimes we speak about identity and philosophy without really knowing what those words mean. It is a very subjective area. I think the team is showing many positive signs. The things we like to see and what we have implemented in the team.

"When you join a club like Paris Saint-Germain as the coaching staff, some characteristics explain why the club would want you because they have seen things that you can transmit to the team. You can get the results that the team needs.

"I think the team has its identity and style of play. It has ideas, so we want to keep improving and helping the squad develop in every area of the game so that we can get the positive results we hope for."

Mauricio Pochettino praised Neymar after his two-goal display in Paris Saint-Germain's 3-2 victory over Bordeaux in Ligue 1.

Neymar starred in the absence of Lionel Messi, scoring a brace as league leaders PSG outlasted Bordeaux away from home on Saturday.

Having not scored from open play in Ligue 1 since May, Neymar ended that run with two sublime first-half strikes.

Neymar scored only his third and fourth Ligue 1 goals from open play in 2021 (eight goals in total), while taking his tally to seven top-flight goals against Bordeaux – his favourite Ligue 1 opponent.

Kylian Mbappe was also on target for PSG – Neymar and the former have exchanged 23 assists with each other in Ligue 1 since 2017, at least six more than any other top-flight duo.

"I think Ney [Neymar] played a good game. I think that overall, also scoring two goals it is noteworthy," PSG head coach Pochettino told reporters.

"It is clear that both him and Kylian [Mbappe], who have scored the goals, it is important for our offensive players, of course, that they touch, that they were close to the goal and that they scored."

 

With one goal and two assists, Mbappe has been involved in three goals in the same Ligue 1 game for only the second time in 2021, after January against Montpellier (two goals and one assist).

Mbappe scored his first goal from open play in the top-flight since September (against Clermont), ending his longest such streak of his career in Ligue 1 (23 – five shots on target).

PSG, who led 3-0 with 27 minutes remaining before Bordeaux scored twice, are 10 points clear of Lens atop the Ligue 1 standings after 13 games entering the international break.

"The explanation is clear, we have made two mistakes and we have conceded two goals," Pochettino added. "The goals come from mistakes or the success of the opponents. In this case it was a mix of everything, the opponent's success and our mistakes.

"We must have much more strength in defending these types of situations. It is clear that with the 3-0, Bordeaux attacked, creating some chances, especially from corners, but the game was controlled. A pity that we finished 3-2 because the team had played a good game up to that point."

Lionel Messi has been ruled out of Paris Saint-Germain's Ligue 1 clash with Bordeaux through injury, but the forward is expected to be available for Argentina's upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

Six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi was replaced at half-time in PSG's 2-1 comeback win over Lille last week and subsequently missed Wednesday's 2-2 draw with RB Leipzig in the Champions League.

The Barcelona legend is continuing to struggle with a knee and hamstring issue and will not be risked against Bordeaux on Saturday as Mauricio Pochettino's side look to tighten their grip on top spot.

Messi also missed a string of games upon joining PSG from Barca in August, but Pochettino is hopeful his compatriot can return to action during Argentina's games with Uruguay and Brazil over the next fortnight.

"Lionel's not available on Saturday and will not travel with us," Pochettino said at Friday's pre-match news conference. "We hope that he'll be available for Argentina and return to us afterwards."

Messi has had 15 shots in Ligue 1 without finding the net since arriving on a free transfer from Barcelona, failing to score from an expected goals value of 1.9, with his only three goals for PSG coming in the Champions League.

 

The superstar forward is not alone in enduring a frustrating start to a new career outside of Spain, with team-mate Sergio Ramos yet to feature for the club since joining on a free transfer from Real Madrid in July.

Reports from France this week suggested PSG chiefs are growing restless with Ramos on his road to recovery, but the experienced centre-back is now closing in on a return to action.

PSG confirmed on their official website on Friday that Ramos is set to take part in full training next week, potentially meaning he could make his long-awaited debut against Nantes on November 20.

Pochettino's side are eight points clear at the top of the table, but they have often had to rely on late goals to pick up victories and were held by Leipzig in the Champions League in midweek.

Despite that setback, Pochettino is happy with the progress made by his side since he took charge at the start of the year.

Indeed, PSG have won 76 per cent of their Ligue 1 games in 2021 (25 of 33) – only Manchester City (26 of 34) have a better success rate in the top five European leagues over the year.

"I am a satisfied coach," Pochettino said. "The commitment is there to see, though there is the requirement to do better each game. If we score 100 goals, we want more; if we stop a penalty, we want to stop two.

"Today I am satisfied with the state of mind. If the results are there, it's because there is will. We know that the performances will get better and better.

"We are progressing collectively and individually. We have recruited many players and have a squad of 33. We are in a process of construction and have to tackle the priorities, such as helping players adapt.

"From there we can develop a way of playing based on a collective organisation and solid foundations. As a coach I want to win every match 5-0, to have 75 per cent possession, to play attacking and recover the ball as quickly as possible.

"But this is a long process, this is not something I think about while I sleep."

PSG are unbeaten in their last 12 Ligue 1 meetings with Bordeaux and have scored at least once in their last 17 meetings in the competition.

Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino was left frustrated after his side conceded a stoppage-time penalty to drop two points in a 2-2 draw at RB Leipzig that saw them lose top spot in Champions League Group A.

PSG went a goal down early on after former player Christopher Nkunku headed in a cross from Andre Silva, and would have been further behind just 12 minutes in had Gianluigi Donnarumma not saved a penalty from the latter after the Portugal forward was tripped in the box by Danilo on Wednesday.

Georginio Wijnaldum bagged his first two goals for PSG since joining from Liverpool in the off-season to give his team a half-time lead, but Pochettino's men could not put the game to bed and were fortunate to still be ahead by the time Presnel Kimpembe gave away another penalty, which Dominik Szoboszlai converted in the 92nd minute midweek.

"We saw how facing a team performing well can cause us problems," Pochettino told RMC Sport. "It's our fault that we messed up the start of the match. It's true that we didn't start well.

"In the second half, we controlled the game better. The stats show that we have to do better in terms of possession.

"Most of all we have to manage the game better against teams who can play on the counter like Leipzig. You have to be able to do it all."

When asked how he felt about losing first place in the group to Premier League champions Manchester City, the former Tottenham boss added "It changes nothing. We need to have the desire to go to Manchester to qualify."

PSG are now winless in their last three away games in the Champions League (D2 L1), their worst such run on the road since November 2018 (four on the spin).

Wijnaldum's goals for PSG were his first in 276 days since the end of January for Liverpool. It was also the Dutchman's first Champions League brace since May 2019 in the semi-finals against Barcelona.

"We created a lot of opportunities but also gave a few away and that's why they stayed in the game," RMC Sport. "At times we made it easy for them.

"I work hard every day and I'm getting to know my team-mates better. Let's hope I can continue this form."

Lionel Messi is battling hamstring and knee trouble and the struggling superstar will miss Paris Saint-Germain's Champions League match at RB Leipzig on Wednesday.

The Argentine forward was omitted from PSG's 21-man squad for the Group A game, as Mauricio Pochettino's side aim to move a step closer to the last-16 stage.

Messi played only the first half of Friday's Ligue 1 game against Lille, with Mauro Icardi taking his place after the break.

Former Barcelona captain Messi had been a doubt for the Lille game and delivered a disappointing display after being given the nod to start.

He has now had 15 shots without finding the net for PSG in Ligue 1 this season – the joint-second most attempts of any player yet to score in the division (Troyes' Renaud Ripart has had the most: 18).

Messi's three goals for PSG in eight games since arriving from Barcelona have all come in the Champions League. He got his first for his new club against Manchester City, before scoring twice in a 3-2 comeback win against Leipzig two weeks ago. That was his 34th brace in the Champions League – a record only beaten by Cristiano Ronaldo (37).

The 34-year-old's feats in Europe mean Messi has matched a PSG record of scoring three goals in his first three Champions League appearances for the team, equalling Neymar and Icardi in that regard.

PSG named a strong party for the trip to Germany, with the likes of Neymar, Angel Di Maria and Kylian Mbappe selected – the latter missed the Lille game due to an ear, nose and throat infection.

But the French club said in a medical bulletin published on their official website: "Leo Messi has discomfort in his left hamstring and pain in his knee following a contusion."

It remains to be seen whether Messi can recover to be involved in the Ligue 1 match at Bordeaux on Saturday.

PSG said former Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos, who has been injury-hit and has yet to feature since arriving in the close season, "is continuing his individual training programme and will join up with the rest of the squad in the next few days".

With seven points from three games, PSG lead the way in Champions League Group A, a point ahead of Manchester City. Leipzig have lost each of their opening three games.

Leonardo defended Lionel Messi, Neymar and Mauricio Pochettino, among others, as he said criticism of Paris Saint-Germain has been unfair this season, even if their performances have been below par.

PSG are 10 points clear at the top of Ligue 1 after beating defending champions Lille on Friday – a fact sporting director Leonardo was keen to reiterate – and also lead their Champions League group.

But Pochettino's side have not quite reached the standard expected of an outfit boasting three of the best players in the world in Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

PSG had to come from behind to defeat Lille 2-1, scoring an 88th-minute winner through Angel Di Maria.

It was the fifth time in this calendar year PSG have conceded first but won in Ligue 1, tying a club record, while they have now earned eight points in the final five minutes of matches this season. No other team have collected more than three.

 

Those statistics speak to the fine margins PSG are dealing with, but Leonardo expected progress would be slow and steady after a busy off-season in which Messi arrived alongside Gianluigi Donnarumma, Achraf Hakimi, Sergio Ramos, Nuno Mendes and Georginio Wijnaldum.

"That we have things to improve is obvious," Leonardo said. "But it is normal given the context. There have been players who have reached the end of their preparation, there have been significant changes.

"We are not where we want to be, but the team works a lot. This is very important."

Leonardo feels there has been too much criticism of PSG, suggesting negative press was "starting to exceed the limits".

He added: "To say that the coach does not understand anything about football, that he was born yesterday, that the great players we took suck...

"There are people who want to make their names by talking about PSG, it's a personal promotion.

"We don't play the way we want, but we have 10 wins, a draw and a loss. We are 10 points ahead.

"We don't play the way we want, okay, but we are on a path, we never lack effort, we know how to reverse scenarios. It was the fourth win in the 90th minute.

"You can't talk about Messi, Mbappe, Neymar, [Marco] Verratti, the coach, Marquinhos like that. Ramos, too? We knew Ramos had a problem. You are playing the game of the Spanish press. We knew everything. We know what is going on."

Ramos is yet to play for PSG since joining from Real Madrid in July, while Messi and Neymar have underwhelmed this term.

Messi still waits on his first Ligue 1 goal, making him the player to have had the most shots in the competition without scoring this season (15, including four on target).

 

Meanwhile, Neymar is enduring his longest Ligue 1 drought, going five games without a goal. However, his brilliant assist for Di Maria on Friday was his third in that time.

"Messi has spent more time with the national team than here," Leonardo said. "Neymar is the same thing, and he played a great game [against Lille]. They were decisive with Di Maria.

"I am not worried about anything. People think we don't know anything about the players, that the players are all partying. This does not correspond to the truth; if players do things wrong, we talk to them.

"Neymar is unfairly criticised. He played a very big game. If he's a player who parties every day, he doesn't play a game like that, it's impossible."

On Pochettino, Leonardo added: "Pochettino, before arriving here, was a top-five [coach]; now, supposedly, he doesn't understand anything anymore.

"We have changed things. Opinions will be formed at the end. We are in a hurry at PSG, it's normal. With a team like that, we want to win this year, that's for sure.

"If we're going to succeed, I don't know. That we have all the means, I am convinced. We have a coach, we have a very large squad. Why would I be worried? We can be better. If we look at what we have, why would I be worried?"

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