Kylian Mbappe has not been mishandled by Paris Saint-Germain since the World Cup and injuries are "part of the job", coach Christophe Galtier said on Friday.

Mbappe is expected to miss PSG's Champions League last-16 first leg against Bayern Munich on February 14 after suffering a hamstring injury in the win at Montpellier on Wednesday.

Facing three weeks on the sidelines, Mbappe should also sit out Ligue 1 games against Toulouse, Monaco and Lille, as well as the Coupe de France clash with Marseille.

Considering Mbappe has 25 goals in 26 appearances for PSG this season, this is a major blow at a significant stage of the campaign, with Neymar also on the injured list.

The Toulouse game comes on Saturday as PSG look to extend their five-point lead over second-placed Marseille, with Lionel Messi heading into the fixture without his fellow star attackers.

Galtier has considered whether he has played Mbappe too much since the France striker returned from Qatar 2022. His verdict is that PSG have protected Mbappe as much as possible.

"We are in a unique season, with a World Cup in the middle," Galtier said, "and I realise that at many other clubs with many internationals, there has been fatigue that has generated automatically and injuries.

"As a philosophy, I am in the habit of saying injuries are part of the job.

"We're sorry above all for Kylian. He is a competitor and always wants to be involved, but we can't have a season where we don't have physical problems, that's part of a season and part of the competition. 

"It's even more so for a club with internationals who are in demand all the time, as much with club as with country."

 

Galtier said PSG "took a lot of precautions for Kylian's return".

The striker reported for duty with the capital giants in the midweek after France's World Cup final penalty shoot-out loss to Argentina in December, illustrating his eagerness to get back into club action.

He was then allowed a holiday in January, with Mbappe travelling to the United States for that break.

"I don't think Kylian played too much," Galtier said, "and from the moment you play, there is always an element of risk."

Veteran defender Sergio Ramos, hit by a thigh problem at Montpellier, is another who will sit out the Toulouse game. The onus will fall on Messi to drive PSG to victory on Saturday, and the Argentine great scored in the 3-1 success at Montpellier.

"Leo Messi was able to take matters into his own hands against Montpellier, as soon as Kylian Mbappe and Sergio Ramos went off," said Galtier.

"He was a natural leader and the players put themselves at his service. I congratulated everyone for doing the work necessary to get this victory, which was difficult to obtain.

"The absence of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe is inevitably damaging since there were many connections between these three players. I now have to organise the team, taking into account these combined absences.

"Leo Messi will continue in his usual role. It will be up to the players who will be at his side to seize the opportunities and for everyone to raise their level of play."

Julian Nagelsmann is not buying Paris Saint-Germain's claims that Kylian Mbappe will miss the first leg of the Champions League last-16 tie against his Bayern Munich team.

Mbappe sustained a hamstring injury in Wednesday's Ligue 1 clash with Montpellier.

PSG subsequently announced the 24-year-old is set to be sidelined for around three weeks.

If that estimated recovery time is accurate, Mbappe would be unavailable for the first leg of PSG's clash with Bundesliga champions Bayern on February 14.

However, Bayern coach Nagelsmann is not fully convinced that will be the case.

"I don't think he will be out, I don't expect anything else. I don't know what [injury] he's got, I assume [he will be] playing," Nagelsmann said at a press conference ahead of Bayern's trip to Wolfsburg on Saturday.

"I don't know what he has. It's relatively vague on the PSG website.  If it's not a structural injury, I can't imagine him missing the game, but I don't know. Of course, they can play poker.

"I am preparing for the game as if he is going to play."

While Nagelsmann does not fully believe PSG's news about Mbappe, he could be seen as playing mind games of his own, as he revealed Sadio Mane will not be fit to feature against the French champions.

Mane missed the World Cup due to an injury sustained while in action for Bayern just ahead of last year's tournament but returned to training last month.

"I am expecting him back in the middle or at the end of February," Nagelsmann said of the former Liverpool attacker.

"Things are looking good and he's pain-free. He will definitely miss the first leg against PSG."

Bayern claimed their first win of 2023 in emphatic fashion last time out, beating Mainz 4-0 in the DFB Pokal.

They have drawn their three Bundesliga matches since the season's resumption, though face a Wolfsburg team that have lost their last two games.

Making his debut following a loan move from Manchester City, Joao Cancelo impressed against Mainz, and Nagelsmann had praise for his latest recruit.

"He's a very likeable player and will help better us," he said.

"He's a fighter who likes to play as much as possible and who wants to impact the game. He adds new options to our team. He was very strong in the first half against Mainz."

Lionel Messi insists there is no problem between himself and Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Kylian Mbappe following Argentina's World Cup final triumph over France.

Messi finally won the biggest prize of them all in Qatar last year, guiding Argentina to their first World Cup title since 1986.

Argentina appeared to be cruising to victory when 2-0 up at half-time, but a quick-fire double from Mbappe near the end of the regulation 90 minutes took the game to extra time.

Messi's second goal of the game had Argentina back in control again, but as before, Mbappe levelled to complete his hat-trick with two minutes left, forcing a penalty shoot-out.

Argentina ultimately prevailed 4-2 on penalties to spark wild celebrations, some of which bizarrely seemed to revolve around Mbappe.

Goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez was said to have called for a moment of silence for Mbappe in the changing room afterwards, and then during Argentina's celebratory parade in Buenos Aires he was spotted carrying a doll with the PSG forward's face stuck on.

But Messi does not believe any of the controversy has impacted his relationship with his club-mate.

He told Ole: "We talked about the game, the festivities, how people experienced it in Argentina when I was on vacation, and the festivities we had. Nothing, nothing more.

"I was on the other side too, I lost a World Cup final too, and I didn't want to know anything about it, about what happened, and nothing related to the World Cup at that time.

"That's why I don't want to talk about it [to Mbappe] either, but the truth is that there is no problem with Kylian, on the contrary."

Some of Argentina's celebrations – most notably Martinez's behaviour – fed into a negative perception of the team in the eyes of some.

There was also the photo of their reaction to beating the Netherlands on penalties earlier in the tournament, with many of the Argentina players appearing to goad their opponents as they ran off to celebrate.

But Messi is adamant Argentina have been done a disservice, again explaining how their reaction to the Dutch was simply a response to apparent unsporting conduct from Louis van Gaal's team.

"It seems unfair to me that Argentina's lack of fair play was mentioned because it's not true," he continued.

"We always behaved in an exemplary manner, on and off the pitch. My team-mates were impressive.

"I think they talk because of what happened with the Netherlands, that it all started there. It was the Dutch who spoke and who wanted to destabilise our players when we were going to take the penalties.

"Everyone talks about what Argentina did after their victory but no one talks about that. It seems to me we should watch it back more carefully and see what happened, and then comment."

Paris Saint-Germain overcame an injury to Kylian Mbappe as goals from Fabian Ruiz, Lionel Messi and 16-year-old Warren Zaire Emery saw them beat Montpellier 3-1 in Ligue 1 at the Parc-des Princes on Wednesday.

Mbappe had already missed a penalty, and its subsequent retake for a Montpellier encroachment, before coming off in the 21st minute with a worrying-looking injury, clutching his hamstring as he went straight down the tunnel.

But after Messi and Achraf Hakimi both saw goals chalked off for offside, Fabian poked home in the 55th minute before Messi added a second to put Christophe Galtier's men in control.

Arnaud Nordin pulled one back only for Zaire Emery to come off the bench to score his first senior goal, sealing a victory that is PSG's first in three league games and puts their hopes of lifting a ninth title in 11 seasons back on track.

PSG were awarded a penalty after just seven minutes when Christopher Jullien hauled down Sergio Ramos from a free-kick into Montpellier's box.

Mbappe's initial spot-kick was saved by Benjamin Lecomte, but a Montpellier encroachment prompted a retake, only for the France international to see his second attempt tipped onto the post by Lecomte before sending the rebound over the bar.

After Mbappe and Sergio Ramos (head) were both forced off with injury, Messi thought he had put PSG in front with a clever chipped finish, though a VAR review ruled him offside to send the game into the break goalless.

Messi blasted into the side-netting following half-time before Hakimi saw a wonderful strike from distance ruled out, again for offside in the build-up.

But PSG's wait to break the deadlock ended shortly after, Hugo Ekitike nodding across for Fabian to stab home from close-range.

Messi added a second with 18 minutes to play as he coolly dinked into the bottom corner from Fabian's perfectly weighted throughball, though Nordin caused some anxiety for the visitors by finding the bottom corner in the 89th minute.

Substitute Zaire Emery ended any hopes of a Montpellier comeback though by blasting home a third in the dying seconds.

A paperwork error from Chelsea's side has reportedly prevented the loan deal that would have sent Hakim Ziyech to Paris Saint-Germain.

Ziyech, 29, arrived in Paris on Tuesday to complete the move, with both clubs on board after the former £35million signing struggled to force his way into Graham Potter's plans.

The Moroccan international has made only four starts this Premier League season to go with six brief substitute appearances, collecting his first goal involvement with an assist against Crystal Palace on January 15.

According to The Athletic, Chelsea are the side being accused of failing to submit the necessary paperwork in time for the move to be processed, while an anonymous Paris Saint-Germain source is quoted calling the situation a "Class A circus".

ESPN adds that the French giants believe the paperwork was filed in time and will appeal the Ligue 1 decision, but there is no timetable for the appeal process.

Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Keylor Navas joined Nottingham Forest on loan as Steve Cooper's side completed a remarkable deadline-beating signing on Tuesday.

Navas, a three-time Champions League winner with Real Madrid, fell out of favour in the French capital with Gianluigi Donnarumma the preferred goalkeeper for Christophe Galtier's side.

The 110-cap Costa Rica international will add a wealth of experience as Cooper's side attempt to stave off Premier League relegation.

Navas, who won two Ligue 1 titles with PSG after leaving Madrid in 2019, could be in line for his Forest debut in a crucial relegation clash at home to Leeds United on Sunday.

The arrival of Navas, whom Forest have the option to sign permanently at the end of the season, was announced shortly after confirmation of Jonjo Shelvey's signing from fellow Premier League side Newcastle United.

Shelvey has penned a two-and-a-half-year contract with Forest, with the fee undisclosed but expected to be insignificant as the midfielder's Newcastle deal was set to expire in June.

Former Liverpool man Shelvey suggested Cooper was a big draw after discussing the move with Newcastle head coach Eddie Howe.

"It's a fantastic football club that has so much history and I'm really looking forward to getting started," he told the club's website.

"My main goal straight away is to fight for my place in the team and stay there.

"It's not going to be easy because there's a lot of competition for places, but it's a challenge I'm really looking forward to and the competitiveness can only help the team going forward.

"I spoke to Eddie Howe and he had such good words to say about Steve Cooper. I previously knew of him from my time at Liverpool, so I knew what a fantastic coach he was, but meeting him for the first time has been a breath of fresh air.

"He's told me what he expects and the high standards he sets, so I can hope I can come and help the team push to stay in the Premier League.

"I've been in this league a long time, I know what it takes to stay up and what it takes to get a good team to gel, so I'm looking forward to getting started and working with the players that are here."

Paris Saint-Germain will have to wait until June to sign Milan Skriniar after Inter chief executive Beppe Marotta ruled out the move happening before the January transfer window shuts.

The centre-back revealed on Sunday he was joining the French champions, though it was unclear whether PSG would pay the reported €20million fee Inter wanted for the defender to move this month.

Skriniar was left out of Inter's squad for Tuesday's Coppa Italia quarter-final against Atalanta but Marotta stated the Slovakia international will stay in Milan for the rest of his contract before joining PSG.

"There are dynamics whereby players frequently change their shirts," Marotta told Mediaset. "We have to get used to this kind of football.

"It's not what we like, it's not what the fans like, but we compare ourselves with professionals.

"Skriniar made a choice that falls within his rights, we have a duty to respect it.

"We're certain that he will continue to demonstrate the same professionalism and seriousness that he always has in all the months to come before the season is over, and that he's up to the task of continuing to represent this shirt."

Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar has been ruled out of Wednesday's Ligue 1 match against Montpellier.

The 30-year-old has been in fine form for the reigning French champions this season, scoring 17 goals and assisting 14 more in 25 appearances.

Those 31 direct goal involvements put Neymar level with team-mate Kylian Mbappe and behind only Manchester City's Erling Haaland (34) among players across Europe's top five leagues.

However, the Brazil international will not play any part against Montpellier in midweek as he is suffering from muscular fatigue.

PSG announced the news on their official website on Tuesday, with no timeframe given for Neymar's return to action.

Mbappe and Lionel Messi have been included in Christophe Galtier's 21-man squad for the trip to 14th-place Montpellier, as PSG look for their first win in three league games.

After losing to Rennes and drawing with Reims in their past two matches, the Parisians' lead at the top of Ligue 1 has been cut to three points by Lens.

Christophe Galtier rubbished suggestions he must lose Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi or Neymar to balance his Paris Saint-Germain side.

The forward trio, arguably the most talented frontline in European football, have been at the forefront of the Ligue 1 giants' latest title charge this term.

But since the World Cup, where Argentina captain Messi defeated France forward Mbappe in the final, the team have won only two of five top-flight games.

Critics claim the team is too top-heavy, but ahead of Wednesday's match with Montpellier, Galtier scoffed at such ideas.

"We have three incredibly strong attacking players," he said. "Are you saying that we have to lose one of these three players to be balanced? That would be a mistake.

"[Our level] is insufficient though, in terms of points per game. We must quickly find a higher level of play, and above all score points.

"It happens in any season, that there is a bad period. We have a busy month ahead of us. January was not good, but now we are all working to remedy it."

Galtier further acknowledged star men Mbappe and Messi underperformed in the 1-1 draw with Reims, but he stressed the blame lies with the collective rather than the duo.

"Kylian and Leo didn't achieve what they usually achieve on an attacking level, but it is not a question of their state of mind," he added.

"With our organisation and our balance, we must find something else. We are working on it. Whatever the system, everyone has to give more on the pitch."

Chelsea have splashed the cash this month and could break the Premier League record by landing Enzo Fernandez before the transfer window closes on Tuesday.

The Blues have already spent big to bring Mykhailo Mudryk to Stamford Bridge, while Noni Madueke, Joao Felix and Benoit Badiashile are among their other recruits.

Fernandez could follow from Benfica on what promises to be a busy deadline day as clubs across Europe scramble to get late deals done.

It remains to be seen if Arsenal can tempt Brighton and Hove Albion to part with Moises Caicedo.

Joao Cancelo looks set to swap Manchester City for Bayern Munich on loan and Paris Saint-Germain could finally seal a deal for long-time target Milan Skriniar along with Hakim Ziyech.

Stats Perform has picked out the standout transfers that could go through before the deadline.

 

BLUES TO SHOW THE COLOUR OF THEIR MONEY FOR WORLD-CUP WINNER?

Fernandez emerged as a target for Chelsea following his influential displays for Argentina during their World Cup triumph in Qatar.

The London club have wasted no time in building a new-look squad since a Todd Boehly-led consortium completed a takeover and Graham Potter arrived as head coach.

They have already made huge statements this month, none more so than snaring winger Mudryk from under the noses of Premier League leaders Arsenal.

Chelsea are working on trying to secure the services of Fernandez for a reported fee of £105.5million (€120m), which would break the Premier League record of £100m City paid Aston Villa for Jack Grealish.

CAICEDO A NO-GO?

Arsenal have already raided Brighton to bring wantaway winger Leonadro Trossard to the capital.

The Gunners have failed with big-money offers for centre midfielder Caicedo, who last week made it clear he wants to join the Premier League leaders.

Arsenal are said to be ready to test the Seagulls' resolve again on deadline-day with a third bid of £75m, but Brighton want to keep him for the rest of the season.

If they do not get an offer they cannot refuse, Arsenal could turn to Leicester City's Youri Tielemans or Chelsea's Jorginho.

CANCELO BAYERN-BOUND

Eyebrows were raised on Monday when it came to light that Bayern are poised to bring Cancelo to the Bundesliga from City.

The Portugal full-back Cancelo has fallen out of favour at the Etihad Stadium, having reportedly had a bust-up with Pep Guardiola.

A loan deal would be great business for Bayern as they hunt more trophies and this one is expected to go through.

PSG'S SKRINIAR PERSISTENCE COULD PAY OFF, ZIYECH TO FOLLOW?

While Bayern's move for Cancelo has come late in the window, Skriniar has long since been a target for PSG.

The Inter centre-back is only under contract at the end of the season and with the Serie A giants unable to tie him to a deal, it has been seemingly only a matter of time before he moves on.

PSG should finally get their man before the window closes, with the defender having already confirmed he has agreed terms with the Ligue 1 champions. Chelsea winger Ziyech could also be on his way to the French capital.

Arsenal are still desperate to add a new face in central midfield and will reportedly make late runs at Chelsea's Jorginho and Leicester City's Youri Tielemans before the transfer deadline.

Tielemans is one of Leicester's top talents, appearing in all 20 of their Premier League games this season while contributing three goals and an assist from his 18 starts.

Jorginho is in his fifth season at Stamford Bridge and remains an integral part of Chelsea's squad, making 15 league starts this season, including wearing the captain's armband in their two most recent fixtures.

However, both players are in the final six months of their contracts and are set to become available via free transfers at the end of the campaign, and their clubs may be willing to accept a significantly reduced figure for highly valuable assets.

 

TOP STORY – GUNNERS GUNNING FOR MIDFIELD ACTION AT THE DEADLINE

According to Football London, Arsenal's pursuit of 21-year-old Brighton and Hove Albion standout Moises Caicedo appears to have been unsuccessful, and they now view Jorginho as an acceptable alternative.

The report states Chelsea are willing to let the Italy international leave, indicating he will become expendable if the impending arrival of Benfica's Enzo Fernandez comes to fruition.

Football London also adds Arsenal will make another push at both Caicedo and Real Sociedad's Martin Zubimendi, but they are considered unlikely options.

Meanwhile, 90min claims Leicester would be more open to allowing Tielemans to leave if they were not locked in a relegation battle, but as it stands they would need a "huge" bid to prioritise a transfer fee over their Premier League survival.

 

ROUND-UP

– Calciomercato is reporting Leeds United will try to secure Roma's Nicolo Zaniolo after he snubbed Bournemouth, but Roma are unlikely to accept unless the full transfer fee is paid up front.

– According to L'Equipe, Paris Saint-Germain are interested in a loan move for Chelsea's Hakim Ziyech, who would prefer a loan to France instead of a fellow Premier League side.

– Manchester United captain Harry Maguire has rejected a loan approach from Inter and will instead opt to fight for his place, although he will re-evaluate his future at the end of the season, per the Daily Star.

– El Nacional is reporting Liverpool will make a run at signing Chelsea's N'Golo Kante when his contract expires after the season.

– According to Football Insider, Southampton have agreed to meet the £26.2million (€30m) release clause for 22-year-old Braga forward Vitinha.

Christophe Galtier insisted he was not worried with Paris Saint-Germain's poor form since the return to action after the World Cup.

Folarin Balogun's last-gasp equaliser for Reims at the Parc des Princes on Sunday left the defending champions with just one win from their past four Ligue 1 matches.

PSG's lead at the summit has been reduced to just three points as a result, a gap that could have been even less had Lens and Marseille not also been held to a draw on Saturday.

Galtier's side have a quick turnaround before Wednesday's trip to Montpellier and he is pushing for a response from his squad.

"Worried no, disappointed yes. We are not going to hide behind the post-World Cup calendar," he said after the match.

"It's been a few weeks since our performances were not at the same level as in the first part of the season. We must work, we must find solutions, and reconnect.

"A crisis of confidence? I don't think so. Maybe a crisis of complacency, all the demands we had.

"It went haywire for different reasons. It's hard to restart. I have high-level players who cannot accept to be at this level since the beginning of 2023."

With just a few days remaining until the mid-season transfer window slams shut, Galtier confirmed the club intend to be active in order to bolster the squad.

"There are 48 hours left. The club is working on the arrival of at least one player. There are significant constraints with financial fair play," he added.

"We want reinforcement. Will it happen? I don't know. We cannot hide behind the absence of a player. We have quality players in the squad. Everyone must find their level very quickly."

Folarin Balogun stunned Paris Saint-Germain at the Parc des Princes with a last-gasp equaliser to earn a 1-1 draw for Reims.

Neymar opened the scoring early in the second half to give Christophe Galtier's home side the lead, but substitute Marco Verratti was sent off soon afterwards.

PSG continued to have the better chances but could not extend their lead, though the 10 men still looked set to grind out a valuable win to return to winning ways on Ligue 1 duty.

Balogun had other ideas though, latching onto Kamory Doumbia's throughball to slot past Gianluigi Donnarumma in the sixth minute of stoppage time and stun the home crowd.

Milan Skriniar confirmed he has signed for Paris Saint-Germain but is waiting for Christophe Galtier's side to agree the transfer details with Inter.

The Slovakia international's agent Roberto Sistici said on Tuesday there was "no possibility" his client would renew his Inter contract, which is due to expire at the end of June.

PSG coach Galtier, speaking after Monday's 7-0 Coupe de France win over Pays de Cassel, suggested a move for the centre-back was imminent, though he did not clarify whether it would be in January or the end of the season.

It is said Inter are demanding €20million from PSG for the defender to leave this transfer window and Skriniar, despite confirming his move, was unable to reveal when he will join PSG.

When asked by Slovakian outlet Futbalsfz about reports he has signed for PSG, the 27-year-old responded: "Yes, it's true. Now, however, I can't add more details. 

"I'm waiting for the two clubs to find an agreement."

Simone Inzaghi's side are reportedly considering Manchester United centre-back Victor Lindelof or Lille's Tiago Djalo should Skriniar's move be completed this month.

Simone Inzaghi will not "waste time imagining what happens in the future" amid speculation over Milan Skriniar's future at Inter.

Defender Skriniar missed Saturday's trip to lowly Cremonese through suspension, though his absence was not felt too keenly as Inter recovered from an early setback to win 2-1 thanks to Lautaro Martinez's double.

The centre-back has been repeatedly linked with a move to Paris Saint-Germain, but with just over three days of the transfer window remaining, Inzaghi is not worrying about losing Skriniar.

"That is not a question for me, it is for directors [Giuseppe] Marotta and [Piero] Ausilio," Inzaghi told DAZN.

"Milan is a great professional, he is here at the moment and trains to his best. I cannot waste time imagining what happens in the future."

Inter were well worth their win at Cremonese, who are yet to secure a victory in Serie A this season.

Inzaghi's side had 30 shots and got 10 of those on target, albeit they relied on the quality of Martinez to get over the line.

Martinez moved onto double figures for the season with his 21st-minute equaliser, when he reacted sharply to turn home a rebound from Edin Dzeko's volley.

The forward has now scored at least 10 Serie A goals in four separate seasons with Inter, becoming only the third foreign player to achieve that feat in the club's history.

Dzeko supplied the pass for Martinez's second-half winner, and Inzaghi hailed the duo's partnership.

"They are fantastic," the coach said. "They are doing very well but [Joaquin] Correa and [Romelu] Lukaku are also returning to get back in good shape.

"They played about 20 minutes and the team will need them because Edin and Lauti can't play all the games."

Inter moved up to second with their victory, but having lost to Empoli on Monday they are a distant 10 points behind runaway leaders Napoli.

"It was tough against a Cremonese side that in the last few days had knocked Napoli out of the Coppa Italia and picked up a point in Bologna," Inzaghi said.

"I am very happy with the character shown by my team, as after a nasty defeat, conceding an early goal against the run of play could have been really damaging."

Despite Napoli's advantage at the summit of Serie A, Martinez is not giving up on the Scudetto.

He told DAZN: "We are racing only against ourselves, as we dropped a lot of points, it's a big gap at the top and Napoli play [on Sunday].

"We must be calm, focus on ourselves and continue to improve."

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