Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino said he understood Angers' frustration after a controversial late penalty gave the Ligue 1 leaders a 2-1 victory.

PSG trailed following Angelo Fulgini's 36th-minute opener before Danilo Pereira's header, their first shot on target, levelled matters on Friday.

It looked as if they would have to settle for a share of the spoils, but PSG were awarded a penalty after a VAR check for handball against Pierrick Capelle.

Kylian Mbappe swept home from 12 yards in the 87th minute, with Angers left to fume.

Romain Thomas felt he was fouled by PSG forward Mauro Icardi in the lead-up to the penalty incident.

He told Prime Video: "It's incredible what's happened.

"Losing 2-1 at the end, losing here isn't shameful, but [to lose] like that... no, it's not possible.

"We worked all week to do something properly and the referees can't take the time to do theirs.

"VAR... I'm starting to get tired of this story. Putting millions into something when you don't even know how to use it, it annoys me because I'm passionate, I'm dedicated.

"At the start of the play, he [Icardi] pulled me on the arm, I fell and then he plays from that position for the penalty. So, I'm frustrated."

Asked about Angers' complaints, Pochettino said: "It's difficult. I haven't seen the action footage yet. I couldn't see correctly whether there was a hand, a penalty or a foul ... I don't know. 

"I understand Angers' feelings. I myself have often known these situations where the decisions are a little against us. But these are game situations."

PSG have won 24 Ligue 1 games since the start of the Pochettino era in January 2021 (D2 L5) – at least four more than any other team over the period.

Mbappe's penalty was his only shot on target from three attempts, his winner following his decisive goal in France's victory over Spain in the Nations League final.

On Mbappe's performance, Pochettino added: "He is a player about whom we are full of praise. He has enormous qualities, especially that of being decisive when the team needs it."

Mbappe has scored and delivered an assist in the same Ligue 1 game for only the third time in 2021, after January against Montpellier (two goals, one assist) and April at Strasbourg (one goal, one assist). He has been involved in 27 league goals for the year (20 goals, seven assists) – at least four more than any other player in the top flight.

PSG are nine points clear at the top of Ligue 1, though they have played a game more than second-place Lens.

Sergio Ramos' debut for Paris Saint-Germain has been pushed back again as he continues his recovery from a thigh injury.

Ramos ended a 16-year association with Real Madrid as he joined PSG in July on a free transfer, but he has not played since Los Blancos' Champions League semi-final loss against Chelsea in early May.

Reports suggested the centre-back, who signed a two-year deal at the Parc des Princes, could make his debut on Friday against Angers. However, PSG have confirmed that is not the case.

The Ligue 1 champions released an update on Thursday, announcing Ramos is still in individual training with a view to joining the squad in 10 days, which means he will also seemingly miss Tuesday's Champions League clash with RB Leipzig and the trip to Marseille for Le Classique on October 24.

When asked about the Spain international's prolonged absence, Pochettino said at his pre-match news conference: "I am convinced he will get back to his best.

"It is clear that every player, in this case Sergio Ramos, does not enjoy the situations when they are out and unable to train with their team-mates and play for such a long time.

"He is suffering but is strong mentally and he is coping with it as well as he can. The performance team are helping him stay at a high level and full of motivation to get over this problem."

Ramos appeared in 469 top-flight games for Madrid – with only three players racking up more appearances in the competition for Los Blancos.

He lifted 22 trophies at the club – with only Paco Gento (23) bettering that haul – and started all of his 129 Champions League matches, the most of any player in the competition without a single substitute appearance.

When fit, Pochettino will not just have a defensive leader to call upon, Ramos is also one of the best defenders in terms of attacking returns.

Since the turn of the century, Ramos is the only defender to score 100 goals while playing in one of Europe's top five leagues, and only three players have netted more headed LaLiga goals in that period than the 35-year-old (39).

Neymar will find all the support he needs at Paris Saint-Germain after the Brazil superstar questioned his long-term future in football, head coach Mauricio Pochettino has promised.

In May, Neymar signed a new contract to stay with PSG until 2025, and this season he has been joined by Lionel Messi at the Parc des Princes.

Along with Kylian Mbappe, they could forge one of the great strike forces in the game, although at this stage the trio are still finding their way as a combination.

Despite the challenge of making such an exciting alliance work, Neymar has said he is unsure whether he has the "strength of mind to deal with football" much longer and would likely play his final World Cup in Qatar next year.

"Neymar is an honest person and a player who expresses his feelings quickly," PSG boss Pochettino told a news conference on Thursday.

"But I think his mental strength, considering he has been playing football since a very young age and has always had the media spotlight on him, I don't think there are any problems.

"Sometimes things are taken out of context, but I have no doubt he enjoys his football and I'm sure he will play for many years. I don't have any doubts about that."

Asked about mental health in football, in relation to Neymar's comments, Pochettino said: "This is something that exists in high-level sport. As the coaching staff it is our job to have certain tools in place to help our players.

"But I also don't like talking about this in such a surface-level way, because I think it is much more complicated than that. Certain things cannot be taken out of context and we can't simplify these situations, particularly ones that we are not going through ourselves.

"We are always very worried about our players' physical and mental well-being, so we are always available to help them."

 

Focusing on Neymar, Pochettino said: "His passion for football is on display with us every day so I have no doubts about that."

The former Barcelona forward has experienced a slow start to the campaign in terms of his productivity, scoring only once and having just two shots on target in his first seven club games of the season across all competitions.

Yet only Pele (77) has scored more goals for Brazil than Neymar (69), who has won the Confederations Cup (2013) with his country, along with an Olympic Games gold medal in 2016.

His suggestion that the 2022 World Cup may be his last also reflects that Neymar will be 34 by the time the 2026 tournament comes around.

It remains to be seen how PSG are as a force by then, but for now they are expected to win every game, which made the 2-0 loss to Rennes before the international break such a surprise.

That shock reverse followed on from a victory by the same scoreline against Manchester City in the Champions League, and Pochettino reflected on the Rennes game again on Thursday, choosing to describe it as "a slip-up".

On Friday, his team tackle Angers at the Parc des Princes, when they will be expected to get back on track, albeit hampered by absences caused by stars such as Neymar being on World Cup qualifying duty this week in South America.

PSG are unbeaten in their past 21 Ligue 1 games against Angers (W14 D7), which is their longest run without defeat against a single top-flight opponent.

After his Nations League efforts for France, PSG will hope to have a firing Mbappe on the pitch. The striker has failed to score in his previous four Ligue 1 games, his longest top-flight drought since March-May 2018 (six games). None of his past 17 shots in Ligue 1 has found the net.

Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino offered a less assertive assessment of Kylian Mbappe's prospects of remaining with the Ligue 1 giants but said the "situation is open" amid interest from Real Madrid.

Mbappe, who is into the final year of his contract in Paris, has long been courted by Madrid and the French star revealed he wanted to leave PSG for the LaLiga powerhouse at the start of the season.

PSG sporting director Leonardo last week slammed Madrid for their "not respectful" conduct in pursuing Mbappe for the past two years.

Leonardo was confident about the Parisians' chances of extending the 22-year-old's current deal, but Pochettino was less bullish in his assessment of Mbappe's future in the French capital.

"Mbappe is fine, he's a calm boy with a lot of personality and a very sociable character, he is clear about things and loves football, he's very mature for 22-years-old," Pochettino said in an interview with COPE and Radio MARCA.

"Kylian will make the decision he has to make and the club will do everything possible to keep him, because we're taking about one of the best players in the world at 22.

"I'm left with the fact that the situation is open and in the future anything can happen, the position of a few months ago may change in the future, PSG as a club certainly have the ambition and ability to persuade him and offer him things so that he can stay and be happy, the possibilities that he could change his mind are there."

Pochettino also offered an update on former Madrid captain Sergio Ramos, who joined PSG on a free transfer in the off-season but is yet to debut due to injuries.

The 35-year-old is closing in on a return to fitness after a frustrating start to life in Paris.

Ligue 1 leaders PSG play Angers on Friday, before meeting RB Leipzig in the Champions League on Tuesday.

"Unfortunately, Ramos hasn't started training with the group yet, but he is close," Pochettino said.

"We're happy with his progression, he's a great champion and someone who isn't going to doubt his qualities and footballing talent, he's not having a good time right now but he is strong."

Mauricio Pochettino was left "frustrated and disappointed" after Paris Saint-Germain failed to register a shot on target in Sunday's shock 2-0 loss to Rennes.

The Ligue 1 leaders' eight-game winning streak to begin their league campaign came to an end at Roazhon Park as goals from Gaetan Laborde and Flavien Tait proved decisive.

PSG registered 13 shots but failed to test opposition goalkeeper Alfred Gomis from any of those, with Kylian Mbappe having a second-half strike ruled out by VAR for offside.

Mbappe had earlier scuffed a shot over the crossbar with only Gomis to beat, while Neymar was way off target with a volleyed attempt six yards out with the scores still level.

Pochettino also started with fellow superstar forward Lionel Messi, who had a game-high five shots, the most notable of which saw him hit the crossbar from a free-kick.

Angel Di Maria was brought into the side in place of Ander Herrera from Tuesday's 2-0 win over Manchester City, but Pochettino has no regrets over his attack-minded selection.

"I don't think we can look at our system. We played 25 of our best minutes of the season [in the first half]," Pochettino said at his post-match news conference.

"We didn't start the game well, but we then had 25 or 30 minutes of good quality football. It was a shame not to capitalise.

"We then had two psychological blows, conceding just before and just after half-time. The match was then open. We created chances but had a hard time.

"Rennes grew in confidence and we started to become frustrated."

 

The defeat was Messi's first since joining PSG from Barcelona in August, the Argentina international still without a goal in three Ligue 1 matches.

Mbappe, meanwhile, has now had 17 shots since last finding the net in Ligue 1.

While Messi, Mbappe and Di Maria played the full 90 minutes, Neymar was withdrawn 14 minutes from time after managing just that one wayward attempt in the first half.

Rather than point the finger at individuals, however, Pochettino accepted the blame for his side's first league loss since early April, a run of 15 matches.

"When we won against Man City, it was down to a collective effort," he said. "The first person in charge is me. What we did for 25 minutes was of very high quality.

"We must extend that to 90 minutes. I am satisfied with one sector – we created a lot of situations and opportunities."

PSG's 13 attempts without registering a shot on target is their highest in a Ligue 1 match since Opta started collecting such data in 2006-07.

Rather than put the rare setback down to fatigue on the back of a tough European match with Man City five days ago, Pochettino accepts a lack of cutting edge was to blame.

Asked if he was feeling angry, Pochettino said: "Yes, a bit. Nobody likes to lose games. We can't underestimate what Rennes did, but we are frustrated and disappointed.

"We had chances to score and then conceded a couple of goals. Situations like this leave us bitter and disappointed.

"But it's not to do with playing in midweek. We've had five days since then. I repeat, we played 30 minutes of good football today. 

"We had control of the game and conceded when on top. We were immediately 2-0 down in the second half and then it's a different game."

Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino insisted he is not concerned by the lack of goals from his forwards after the Ligue 1 leaders beat Montpellier 2-0 on Saturday.

PSG preserved their perfect start to the season, Pochettino's men making it eight wins from eight league matches thanks to goals from Idrissa Gueye and Julian Draxler.

In the continued absence of superstar Lionel Messi (knee), Kylian Mbappe and Neymar wasted chances as midfielder Gueye and winger Draxler stepped up at the Parc des Princes.

Mbappe has failed to net his last 13 shots in Ligue 1, his longest drought from shots in the top flight since August-September 2019 (16 shots).

"We created a lot of opportunities today, but they didn't score them. We leave that aside," Pochettino told reporters. "The quality we have in our team and especially with our attacking players, it's only a matter of time before they score.

"I have no doubt that they will score a lot of goals this season. Tonight, we didn't score more than two goals, that is true."

Pochettino added: "It's always important that our midfielders bring goals to the team. When our attackers are not as effective, they can deliver which is a huge bonus.

"That doesn't surprise me. But yes, it's important that the midfielders have this ability to get into the opponent's box and score."

Gueye smashed in the opener in the 14th minute in the French capital, where Draxler came off the bench and added a late second to send PSG 10 points clear atop the table.

PSG have won six consecutive Ligue 1 games against Montpellier – their longest streak against this side in the top flight. They have even won each of these games by a margin of at least two goals, only doing more in a row against a same opponent twice before against St Etienne between 1983 and 1990 (seven) and Bastia between 1984 and 2000 (nine).

French powerhouse PSG have won each of their first eight games in Ligue 1 this season. This is only the third time that it happened in the league's entire history after PSG in 2018-19 and Lille in 1936-37.

"I think the evolution is important in all aspects. I am satisfied in general. But it is normal that with more time we will improve in all areas of the game. We are satisfied that on a collective level we are showing more defensive solid," Pochettino said.

"As far as the principles of the game where possession is concerned, we are still building. But we can see improvements in many aspects. I am happy. It takes time for the players to be on the pitch and for the connections and relationships to develop. This will help us in the future."

Idrissa Gueye and Julian Draxler scored the goals to secure a comfortable 2-0 win for Paris Saint-Germain against Montpellier in their Ligue 1 clash on Saturday. 

Gueye smashed in the opener inside the opening 15 minutes at the Parc des Princes as Mauricio Pochettino's side prospered despite the continued absence of Lionel Messi, who was missing for a second consecutive game. 

The final margin perhaps flattered Montpellier, who appeared to lack attacking intent despite netting 15 times in their first seven league games, while the hosts carelessly wasted chances through Kylian Mbappe and Neymar. 

However, substitute Draxler added a late second as PSG moved 10 points clear at the summit, albeit Marseille do have two games in hand as they aim to make up early ground on the leaders. 

Gueye spurned the first chance of the contest as he sliced wide from Abdou Diallo's cut-back pass, before Neymar chipped narrowly over and Mbappe was denied by Jonas Omlin's legs in a frantic opening five minutes. 

However, the hosts managed to break the deadlock through Gueye, who arrowed a left-footed thunderbolt from the edge of the area into the roof of the net from Angel Di Maria's offload. 

Teji Savanier's free-kick almost drew Montpellier level immediately, Keylor Navas parried the attempt away, before Ander Herrera's left-footed volley was denied by the crossbar moments before the break. 

Omlin had to react quickly after the interval to push away following Mbappe's deflected pass off Nicolas Cozza, with Navas then stopping Stephy Mavididi's low curler at the other end.

Mbappe should have added two goals within as many minutes, though his hesitation derailed the first chance before rounding the goalkeeper with his second and yet somehow slicing wide. 

PSG continued to struggle to kill the game off, Neymar uncharacteristically poking wide from close range, but Draxler managed to slide through the legs of Omlin to finally secure victory in the 88th minute. 

Mauricio Pochettino has insisted Kylian Mbappe is a "fantastic guy" after the Paris Saint-Germain star came in for criticism following the midweek win over Metz. 

PSG won 2-1 on Wednesday thanks to Achraf Hakimi's last-gasp winner, after Metz captain Dylan Bronn had received a second yellow card for kicking the ball away to waste time, with coach Frederic Antonetti then seeing red for his protestations on the touchline. 

As PSG celebrated Hakimi scoring, Metz goalkeeper Alexandre Oukidja charged out to confront some of Pochettino's players, seemingly angered by the nature of their celebrations, with Mbappe the main target of his remonstrations.  

Speaking in his post-match news conference, Antonetti hit out at Mbappe, who he claimed needed to be humble in his behaviour on the field.

Pochettino, however, defended Mbappe on Friday, saying incidents within a match must be taken within that context. 

"I understand that the coach was angry. That is a natural reaction," said Pochettino. 

"You have to take the context into account, especially when considering after losing a game in the 95th minute, I can empathise with Fred for being angry about the situation. 

"Kylian Mbappe is a fantastic guy, he is a top competitor who wants to win, always. 

"These things happen on the pitch, but I don't think they need to be carried off the pitch as well in terms of the situations with him and some Metz players. 

"These incidents cannot be taken out of context, they have to be analysed within a match in which both teams want to win and many things happen, so that cannot be used out of context. 

"That doesn't reflect the reality of who Kylian is, but I can understand the frustration on their behalf." 

 

Mbappe had a game-leading three attempts, level with Neymar and Hakimi, while the 22-year-old also created four chances, more than any other player. 

He had 76 touches and came out on top in 63.6 per cent of his 11 duels, while also winning three fouls, another game high, though only Neymar (34) lost possession more times than the France forward (18). 

With Lionel Messi out injured, the onus will be on Neymar and Mbappe to spearhead PSG's attack against Montpellier on Saturday. 

Mbappe has been involved in 11 goals against Montpellier in Ligue 1 (eight goals, three assists), more than any other current team in the competition. 

After failing to be involved in either goal against Metz, however, he will be aiming to make sure he does not feature in successive league matches without scoring or assisting for the first time since February. 

Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino hailed Achraf Hakimi after his brace preserved the Ligue 1 giants' perfect start to the season on Wednesday.

Hakimi scored a last-gasp winner as Lionel Messi-less PSG maintained their 100 per cent record in a dramatic 2-1 victory at Metz midweek.

PSG full-back Hakimi had opened the scoring in the fifth minute, only for Pochettino's men to be pegged back by Kiki Kouyate's 39th-minute header.

Without superstar Messi due to a knee injury, PSG looked to have run out of ideas, but Dylan Bronn's dismissal for a second yellow card set up a thrilling finish.

Metz head coach Frederic Antonetti was sent off for his protestations and moments later Hakimi scored a 95th-minute winner as PSG made it seven victories from seven league fixtures.

"I am indeed happy with him, he's a great guy, he's a player who's really bringing a lot to us, not just the goals, but also his capacity on the sideline to play both defensively and offensively," Pochettino said during his post-match news conference.

"I am very happy with him, and today, scoring goals, it's been an important reward for the team and for him."

Hakimi – an off-season signing from Serie A champions Inter – has been involved in 13 league goals in 2021 (six goals and seven assists), no defender has done better in the top five European competitions.

This was Hakimi's second brace in the top five European leagues after December 2020, with Inter against Bologna.

Pochettino added: "Can I tell an anecdote on Hakimi? Yesterday [Tuesday], after the training, I asked him: 'How are you?' And he said: 'Very well, very well'. And then he replied: 'And you coach? How are you?'

"I was surprised by the question. 'Because no one ever asks you!'. 'You ask everyone, but no one ever asks you'. And look, today he scored goals. That's the reward for having good intentions."

Pochettino also praised PSG star Neymar, who set up Hakimi's stoppage-time winner away to Metz.

Neymar has been involved in 16 goals in his last 16 starts in Ligue 1 (10 goals and six assists).

"I am very happy with Ney and with his contribution to the team," Pochettino added. "For his attitude and mindset. I am very happy. What I believe is that creative players, players who the whole world hopes they show magic with every touch, those players spend extra energy that other players don't have.

"Therefore it would be unfair to have a player like Ney play every three days hoping that every ball he touches he makes the play of the year. I am very happy with Ney and I think today he did a massive job, like last Sunday. Playing every three day, especially for a players who's got to create constantly, is not easy. Because of that, I am very happy with his performance. Very happy of it."

PSG have won their first seven Ligue 1 games in 2021-22. Only four teams have managed such a performance at this stage previously in the top flight – Lille in 1936-37, Lille in 1949-50, Monaco in 1960-61 and PSG in 2018-19.

Achraf Hakimi scored a last-gasp winner as Paris Saint-Germain maintained their 100 per cent record in dramatic fashion with a 2-1 vitory at Metz.

Hakimi had opened the scoring in the fifth minute, only for PSG to pegged back by Kiki Kouyate's 39th-minute header.

Deprived of Lionel Messi's services because of a knee injury, PSG looked to have run out of ideas, but Dylan Bronn's dismissal for a second yellow card set in motion a thrilling and fractious finish.

Metz coach Frederic Antonetti was sent off for his protestations and moments later Hakimi lashed the winner into the bottom corner in the 95th minute, prompting a furious response from Metz goalkeeper Alexandre Oukidja as PSG made it seven wins from seven.

A long evening appeared to be in store for Metz when PSG broke the deadlock in impressive fashion. Mauro Icardi's delicate chip was cleared off the line by Matthieu Udol, who could not repeat the feat to prevent Hakimi's follow-up from crossing the line.

Yet PSG failed to make the most of their first-half dominance. The visitors enjoyed three-quarters of the possession in the opening period but were pegged back from a set-piece as Kouyate met Lamine Gueye's corner with a powerful header that proved too strong for Keylor Navas.

Gueye could have completed the turnaround on the stroke of half-time, but he failed to find a way past Navas when sent through on goal by Ibrahima Niane.

Neymar fizzed an effort past the near post as PSG sought to regain their lead and the Brazil star was to the fore again when Hakimi blazed high across the face of goal from his clever lofted pass.

Kylian Mbappe almost caught Oukidja off his line with a long-range free-kick, and that should have been Metz's last scare. But there was a twist in the tale as captain Bronn received a second caution for time-wasting having kicked the ball away, with Hakimi cutting in and converting from another superb Neymar pass after Antonetti had seen red.

Mauricio Pochettino insisted there are "no issues" with Lionel Messi after the Paris Saint-Germain superstar's reaction to being substituted during Sunday's 2-1 win over Ligue 1 rivals Lyon.

Messi had a puzzled look on his face as he walked past PSG head coach Pochettino, having been replaced by full-back Achraf Hakimi in the 76th minute of the league clash.

Pochettino and Messi briefly exchanged words before the latter, who was making his home debut at the Parc des Princes following his blockbuster arrival from Barcelona, sat on the bench next to surprised team-mates.

Messi was involved in six shots (four attempts, two chances created) against Lyon and only Kylian Mbappe against Clermont (seven) has managed better in a league game so far this season for PSG.

A six-time Ballon d'Or winner, Messi also had 65 touches and made 48 passes with an accuracy of 83.3 per cent.

Pochettino told a post-match media conference: "I think everyone knows that we have many great players, with a 35-man squad. 

"We have to make choices, within the matchday squad and then during the game, keeping in mind what's best for the team and every player. 

"Sometimes the decisions are positive, or not, but that's what managers are there to do on the sidelines, to make decisions. It can please people or not. 

"I asked him how he was and he said he was fine, no issues."

PSG secured victory over Lyon following a dramatic injury-time header from substitute Mauro Icardi from Mbappe's cross after Neymar's penalty had earlier cancelled out Lucas Paqueta's opening goal.

Pochettino's PSG are now five points clear of Marseille at the top of Ligue 1 after six wins from six games.

PSG have achieved a flawless start from their first six games for the third time after 2017-18 and 2018-19 – on both those occasions they went on to be crowned champions.

"It's very positive for us," Pochettino said of their start to the Ligue 1 campaign. "After the difficult game [against Club Brugge in the Champions League], this was important for us. Lyon are a very good team that play well. 

"We conceded that goal in the second half. The team needed to show some character. 

"We're in a period where we're trying a lot of things. We have to work on it in training, but it's difficult because we have a game every three days, and the priority is that the players recover. 

"We can only do video sessions. It's not an excuse, we need to improve."

Kylian Mbappe could yet feature against Lyon on Sunday having already returned to Paris Saint-Germain training following his midweek injury.

Having created PSG's goal in a 1-1 draw at Club Brugge, Mbappe hobbled off on Wednesday with an ankle issue.

Any lay-off would have represented a blow to Mauricio Pochettino, with five matches before the October international break – starting against Lyon and including a Champions League encounter with Manchester City.

Mbappe has been involved in seven goals in all competitions so far this season – the most of any PSG player and joint-sixth across Europe's top five leagues.

The World Cup winner also has a fine record in matches with Lyon, with his eight goals against them in Ligue 1 his most versus any side currently in the division.

But Mbappe could still improve that tally further on Sunday, with PSG reporting "good evolution" of his injury on Saturday.

And Pochettino added in a news conference: "Kylian trained with the group this morning. We'll see how he is tomorrow morning to see if he's part of the group."

With this frantic period of the campaign not aided by a hectic international break for many of his players, Pochettino said PSG would "try to use all our players while striking the right balance".

That could mean a debut for Nuno Mendes, but the PSG coach still has "no date or specific information" on Sergio Ramos' return to fitness.

Meanwhile, Lionel Messi is set for his home bow.

"Leo is calm," Pochettino said. "He knows he can make his debut in front of his fans.

"The team is focused on the game and improving on our Champions League performance and winning the game of course."

Mbappe, Messi and Neymar started together for the first time at Brugge, but none of them were on the scoresheet, with the Argentina great waiting on his maiden PSG goal.

"Players need time, to know each other, to find affinities," Pochettino added. "It will happen with time. We have a very talented squad."

Plenty will be expected this weekend, with Lyon's 1-0 win at the Parc des Princes last December their first victory in 13 league visits.

Mauricio Pochettino admitted he is lost for words when it comes to describing Lionel Messi but said the six-time Ballon d'Or winner has settled in quickly at Paris Saint-Germain ahead of his Champions League debut for the club.

PSG signed Messi in August when financial issues left Barcelona unable to retain him, and he played 24 minutes of his new club's Ligue 1 victory over Reims before the international break.

Messi, who won the Champions League four times with Barcelona, is set to make his bow in the competition for PSG against Club Brugge on Wednesday, and Pochettino told UEFA.com that he is preparing well.

When asked to describe his compatriot, Pochettino said: "I may not be the most appropriate person to describe him. There are many more people who have a wider vocabulary to describe him closer to the reality Leo deserves.

"He will always be considered among the best in the world. Since he arrived, he has really adapted very quickly and he's been training very well, trying to achieve his highest level as soon as possible to compete at his best.

"I didn't think it was possible [that he would sign for us], and when an opportunity appears and everything goes so fast, you can't immediately process it. However, there's that connection: we both are Argentinian, we both support Newell's [Old Boys], we both come from Rosario.

"I have also admired him for a long time when facing him as an opponent, so having him now training with us is really nice. We hope that, together, we will be able to achieve what the club desires."

Messi's experience in the Champions League is matched by team-mate Sergio Ramos, who won the competition four times before joining PSG from Real Madrid in July.

Pochettino, who admitted that most of the players in his squad deserve to be in his starting line-up, said Ramos would be able to guide younger colleagues through the pressurised environment of Europe's top competition.

"Sergio is also a player that we think can, given the possibility, convey his experience, his competitiveness," said Pochettino.

"He's a player that has also won everything, just like Leo.

"It's good having him at the club for all that he can share with his team-mates: all that experience he gained at Real Madrid."

Mauricio Pochettino insisted Kylian Mbappe has plenty of love for Paris Saint-Germain after the speculation surrounding a move to Real Madrid last month.

PSG reportedly rejected three bids - the last one said to be worth up to €200million - from Madrid for the 22-year-old, whose contract with the Ligue 1 giants runs out at the end of the season.

Mbappe has so far turned down the opportunity to sign a new deal, though the speculation has not affected his form, and he scored with a typically composed finish in PSG's 4-0 rout of Clermont on Saturday.

The France forward has now scored against 26 of the 27 teams he has faced in Ligue 1, while he has also directly contributed to a goal in each of his last 10 appearances in the competition.

Mbappe, who was taken off with 11 minutes remaining, ended Saturday's match with a game-leading five attempts, with three of those on target, including a shot that was parried out to Idrissa Gueye for PSG's fourth goal.

However, prior to his strike against Clermont, there appeared to be something of a mixed reaction from the PSG faithful at Parc des Princes, with some sections of the home fans appearing to whistle and jeer the youngster.

Pochettino claimed not to have heard anything untoward, but was adamant that Mbappe has nothing but respect for PSG.

"I didn't hear the whistles, but I heard the ovation he received when he went to take a corner in the second half with the affection of all the supporters of Paris," Pochettino told a news conference.

"He is a great professional, a great player and a good boy, he has a lot of love for this club. He has shown it since he got here.

"He is focused on improving every day, helping the team and fulfilling the club's goals. He shows great respect every day for this club, you have to salute him."

Next up for PSG is a Champions League encounter with Club Brugge. Lionel Messi and Neymar, who were both absent for Saturday's match, are likely to return and may well start in a front three with Mbappe for the first time.

Mauricio Pochettino has confirmed Lionel Messi and Neymar will not play against Clermont, while reaffirming that Kylian Mbappe is perfectly happy at Paris Saint-Germain.

Messi, who made his PSG debut at Reims before the international break, and Neymar both played as late as Thursday in respective World Cup qualifiers for Argentina and Brazil.

While Neymar scored and provided an assist in Brazil's 2-0 win over Peru, Messi netted a hat-trick against Bolivia, surpassing Pele as the all-time leading goalscorer for a South American nation in the process. Argentina subsequently celebrated their recent Copa America triumph with fans finally allowed back into the stadium in Buenos Aires.

Angel Di Maria and Leandro Paredes also featured for Argentina and Pochettino said a common-sense approach dictated none of the players would be involved in Saturday's home match against newly promoted Clermont.

"Di Maria, Paredes, Neymar and Messi, due to common sense, they are not going to be involved in the squad tomorrow," Pochettino told a news conference, though PSG's coach is hoping to have Mauro Icardi, Presnel Kimpembe and Mbappe – who suffered a calf injury while on France duty – will be fit to feature.

 

Mbappe was at the centre of one of the biggest stories of the recently closed transfer window, with PSG rejecting three bids from Real Madrid for their star striker.

The 22-year-old only has a year left to run on his contract and reports have suggested Madrid are confident he will sign for them as a free agent in 2022. For now, though, he remains at PSG, where Pochettino insists he is content.

"Mbappe is happy. He is emotionally stable. Before the end of the transfer window and now, he has stayed in the same positive mindset with the desire to play and enjoy himself," he said.

"So we are happy with how he is feeling. He has been training and recovering from the injury that he picked up on international duty. We hope he can be available tomorrow."

While PSG have incredible star power in attack, Pochettino has been keen to point out there is a balance to be struck. Indeed, his side conceded five goals across their opening three Ligue 1 fixtures and though they sit pretty on 12 points from four matches, the former Tottenham boss knows there is work to do.

"I think all the players at PSG are stars. Some might play more or less, but they are all stars," added Pochettino, who is also set to be shorn of Marco Verratti on Saturday.

"PSG as a club is bigger than any individual. We have a squad of around 35 players, they all need to feel important. In terms of managing the squad, which is our job, we need the tools so that the 35 players can feel at home and accept their place but at the same time, there are some fantastic names.

"We have to make sure they work as a team because this is a team sport and that is a big challenge that we face. I have been saying that since the start, so we are going to work hard so that it is not just about the names of Kylian, Neymar or Messi, but so that everyone feels comfortable.

"They all need a team, a structure and an organisation to win games so that has to be our main thought. We all drive towards that."

Two of PSG's latest arrivals are yet to make their debuts. Euro 2020 winner Gianluigi Donnarumma has been on the bench for the last two games, while Sergio Ramos is still working his way back to fitness.

Asked if Donnarumma could make his bow against Clermont, Pochettino replied: "We haven't decided yet who is going to be in goal. We have different options – Donnarumma is one of those options."

Pochettino also confirmed Saturday's game, as well as next week's Champions League meeting with Club Brugge, would come too soon for former Madrid captain Ramos.

"Ramos is still undergoing recovery and will not be available for that match," he explained.

"He is following the steps. We want all the players to be available as quickly as possible but it is not something that worries me. I am sure Sergio will recover well and be available soon."

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