Didier Deschamps has called on Paris Saint-Germain head coach Christophe Galtier to let Kylian Mbappe "breathe a little bit" by resting the forward ahead of France's World Cup bid.

Mbappe has started all nine of PSG's Ligue 1 and Champions League matches this season, scoring 10 times.

The 23-year-old also played 90 minutes of France's 2-0 Nations League win over Austria on Thursday when opening the scoring before Olivier Giroud killed off the contest.

PSG have 11 matches to play before France head to Qatar, but Deschamps is hoping Mbappe is not used in all of those games.

"I know [Galtier] still wants to play Kylian. But from time to time, he needs to be able to breathe a little bit," Deschamps told Telefoot. 

"He needs to play a few minutes less. It won't hurt him – quite the contrary."

Mbappe led the way for shots (seven), shots on target (three) and touches in the opposition box (10) against Austria, while no player created more chances (three).

After registering his 28th international goal in 58 caps, Mbappe admitted he felt "a lot more freedom" playing alongside fellow scorer Giroud than he does for club side PSG.

While Mbappe's World Cup spot is all but guaranteed, Giroud faces uncertainty over his position in the squad once Karim Benzema is back from injury.

Asked if he plans on naming Giroud in his travelling party for the World Cup, Deschamps said: "If I knew that... All I know is he is doing everything he can to be there."

Argentina star Lionel Messi believes he is beginning to find his feet at Paris Saint-Germain, having required a year to settle in after his move to France.

Messi scored just 11 goals in 34 appearances during his first season at PSG in 2021-22, but has already struck six times in 11 outings for the Ligue 1 giants this campaign.

The former Barcelona man is also enjoying himself on the international stage, scoring twice and adding an assist as Argentina extended their unbeaten run to 34 matches with a 3-0 friendly win over Honduras on Friday.

Messi led his team for shots on target (three), touches in the opposition box (nine), crosses (three) and successful dribbles (two) in Miami, completing the scoring with a sumptuous 20-yard chip in the second half.

Speaking to TyC Sports after the victory, Messi compared his current form favourably with that of last season.

"I feel good, different from last year and I knew it was going to be like that," Messi said.

"Last year, as I already said, I had a bad time, I never finished finding myself and this one is different.

"I arrived with a different head, more accommodated to the club, to the locker room, to the game, to my team-mates.

"The truth is that I feel very good and I have enjoyed myself again."

Friday's brace took Messi to 88 goals in 163 senior international caps, and he will join a select group of players to have appeared in five separate World Cups when Argentina begin their campaign against Saudi Arabia on November 22.

The PSG forward believes Lionel Scaloni's men are in a good place as their trip to Qatar approaches and is trying not to think about the possibility of his team suffering injuries before the event.

He added: "It is complicated - there are many games and little rest time, but you have to face it as always.

"If you are going to play matches thinking about the World Cup, taking care of yourself or not messing up, then in the end it can be worse. 

"I am one of those who think that things happen because they happen and if things have to happen they will happen. God willing nothing happens to anyone and we can all arrive at the World Cup as we are.

"We are enjoying every moment that we are together and seriously preparing ourselves when it is time to work, working on many things because it is the last time that we all have to be together, and there will not be much time before the first World Cup match.

"So, we took the opportunity to continue growing what we know and trying new things as well."

Kylian Mbappe has "a lot more freedom" playing for France alongside a traditional striker compared to at Paris Saint-Germain, where he is flanked by Lionel Messi and Neymar.

The 23-year-old opened the scoring in Thursday's 2-0 win over Austria as France picked up their first Nations League win of the campaign at the fifth attempt.

Mbappe, who had an early strike ruled out for offside, was played in by a perfect Olivier Giroud pass and blasted in his 28th international goal in 58 appearances.

He led the way for shots (seven), shots on target (three) and touches in the opposition box (10), while no player created more chances than the PSG forward's three.

After producing an all-action display alongside Giroud, who became France's oldest goalscorer with his second-half header, Mbappe said he is enjoying playing in the system.

"I play differently for France. I am asked other things here compared to my club," he told reporters. "I have a lot more freedom here.

"The coach knows there is a number nine in the side like Olivier who can occupy defences while I walk around and go into space.

"In Paris it's different – you don't have that. I am asked to play as a pivot, which is different."

Asked if he enjoys playing in this France side more than alongside the likes of Neymar and Messi at PSG, Mbappe smiled and said: "I take pleasure everywhere I play."

France had been at serious threat of relegation to the second tier, but they are now one point better off than bottom side Austria ahead of Sunday's trip to Denmark.

Les Bleus have been hit by further injury withdrawals ahead of that match, with Jules Kounde and Mike Maignan the latest to pull out of the squad on Friday.

Deschamps still has plenty of options to call upon in each position for the contest in Copenhagen, where Mbappe is ready to start once again.

"I hope I will play on Sunday," he said. "I am always ready to play, whether for club or country. The coach says there will be rotation, so we'll see how it goes."

Ronald Koeman claimed an attempted move to bring Georginio Wijnaldum to Barcelona fell through after president Joan Laporta delayed a deal.

The Dutchman, who was fired by the LaLiga outfit last October after 14 months in charge at Camp Nou, struggled at times on the Barcelona bench and was replaced by Xavi.

Koeman, who will embark on a second spell as Netherlands head coach after the World Cup in Qatar, has confirmed he attempted to bring in compatriot Wijnaldum during the final transfer window of his Barcelona tenure.

However, Koeman contends that president Laporta, then recently returned to the position as Josep Maria Bartomeu's successor, stymied any move by dragging his heels.

"I tried to sign Wijnaldum for Barca, but I failed because the president wanted to play with me more than bring in a player," Koeman told Dutch newspaper AD.

"That delayed the operation, and for that reason, he opted for PSG. Otherwise, he would have played for Barcelona."

Wijnaldum left Liverpool in June 2021 to join Paris Saint-Germain, but he struggled across a dismal first season, resulting in him being loaned out to Roma for the current campaign.

A serious leg injury has since left Wijnaldum sidelined, however, making it highly unlikely he will be included in the Netherlands' squad for the Qatar 2022 World Cup.

Fabian Ruiz says he "could not say no" to Paris Saint-Germain and believes he has made a "very good choice" by joining the Ligue 1 champions. 

The Spain midfielder moved to PSG on a five-year deal last month for a fee that reportedly earned Napoli an initial €21.5million.

Fabian revealed it was an easy decision to make the move to the French capital.

He told El Pais: "An offer arrives, between all of us we believe that it is very good, that you could not say no to a club like Paris, for the project they are doing, for the club, for history.

"I had one year left on my contract, and both Napoli and I were interested in starting [talks], and I think it was a very good choice."

Fabian is relishing the opportunity to work with the likes of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi.

He added: "When you arrive, it's a bit impressive to see the best players together, to know that you're going to change with them that you're going to live with them every day. 

"It's a privilege. But at the same time it's normal. They're normal kids."

Fabian has plenty of competition to nail down a place in Christophe Galtier's side, but is ready to make his grasp his opportunity.

He said: "They like what I've been doing these years. 

"At Napoli, due to work or luck, things were going well, as a team and personally. They ask me for the things I've been doing. Order. Being orderly on the pitch. 

"In the end I am a player who likes to run, to be up, to be down, and they asked me for that, to be able to reach the area, and then be able to come back, help the team defensively, because in the end we are a very aggressive team that we have a lot of people up top, and in the middle we have to have that solidarity to be able to defend well, compact. 

"He [Galtier] asks me for a bit of both: to help them defensively, but at the same time that he can also reach the area."

Italy boss Roberto Mancini has confirmed his side will be without Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Marco Verratti for their Nations League matches with England and Hungary.

Verratti was substituted off during the second half of PSG's Ligue 1 victory at Lyon on Sunday with an apparent calf problem.

PSG boss Christophe Galtier said after the game that the 29-year-old would delay linking up with the Italy squad to instead undergo a scan in Paris on Monday.

And Mancini is now preparing for Friday's visit of England and the trip to Hungary three days later without Verratti, with Sassuolo's Davide Frattesi in line for a call-up, while there was better news regarding Milan's Sandro Tonali and Napoli's Matteo Politano.

"Verratti is not available. He's picked up a knock," Mancini said at a press conference on Monday. "I'll probably call Frattesi to replace him.

"As for the other players, Tonali's problem is not a big one and Politano feels well."

Italy drew with Germany and England either side of beating Hungary in their first three Group A3 matches, before going down 5-2 in the reverse fixture with Germany last time out.

The reigning European champions are third, two points off leaders Germany and three points ahead of England in the relegation spot.

"Anything can happen in this group," Mancini said. "It wasn't pleasant losing 5-2 in the last game, but even then I saw some positive signs.

"Sometimes you need these kind of games to help you improve. It came at the end of the last season when we played a lot of matches.

"But the younger players have gained experience and we've done well overall with the five points collected."

Arsenal were heavily linked with Manuel Locatelli more than 12 months ago and look set to revive their interest.

Locatelli won plenty of admirers with his performances for Italy at Euro 2020.

Among them was Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta, but at the time Locatelli preferred to join Juventus.

TOP STORY – GUNNERS TO REVIVE LOCATELLI INTEREST

Premier League leaders Arsenal will renew their pursuit of Italy international Manuel Locatelli in the near future, claims Calciomercato.

The Gunners have previously been linked with the 24-year-old Juventus midfielder, who is on loan from Sassuolo.

Locatelli was signed by the Bianconeri in August 2021 on a two-year loan, with Juventus holding the obligation to purchase him for €25 million payable over three years plus €12.5m in potential add-ons.

 

ROUND-UP

Real Madrid will not stand in the way of Mariano Diaz should he decide to exit the club across town to join Atletico Madrid, according to El Nacional. It has previously been reported Atletico are targeting the 29-year-old striker.

Madrid will not pursue a deal for Paris Saint-Germain attacker Kylian Mbappe if he has no interest in signing, according to Marca. Mbappe was close to joining the Spanish giants in the off-season as a free agent after a long chase, before signing a lucrative extension with PSG.

– The Sun claims that Leicester City may be forced to stick with manager Brendan Rodgers as it will be too expensive for the club to sack him amid their awful start to the new Premier League season. According to the report, the Foxes would need to pay Rodgers more than £10 million to sack him, with three years left on his deal.

Chelsea's overhaul continues with the club on the cusp of appointing Christoph Freund as their new sporting director, claims The Guardian. Freund is with Austrian champions Salzburg. The Blues recently replaced Thomas Tuchel with Graham Potter as head coach.

Christophe Galtier has heaped praise on "irreproachable" Neymar following Paris Saint-Germain's 1-0 win over Lyon, suggesting the Brazil international gives the Ligue 1 leaders "the best balance".

Neymar marked his 100th appearance in the French top flight with an assist for Lionel Messi's fifth-minute strike at Groupama Stadium; meaning he has now been directly involved in 15 of his side's 26 goals this term (scoring eight and assisting four).

The former Barcelona forward took his tally of goal involvements to 121 in Ligue 1 (77 goals, 44 assists) - more than any other player in their first century of appearances since Opta began analysing the competition in 2006-07.

"It is he who gives [us] the best balance," Galtier said of Neymar during his post-match press conference. "He has this ability to repeat efforts, he has volume, intensity. He is generous to the team.

"It gives a good balance. He is both able to replace himself, and to have dazzling and technical quality. He is a great animator. Obviously, the great players have to come out in this type of match.

"Neymar worked a lot for the team, and he came off a little rinsed and angry. This is normal. He has an irreproachable behaviour. He is sharp and has a lot of ambition on the season - both with the club and in terms of personal statistics."

Despite dominating possession for long stretches, PSG had to fend off a determined Lyon in the second half to take maximum points, and extend their winning streak to six matches across all competitions.

But while admitting his side could have been more clinical, having converted only one of their 15 shots on goal, Galtier insists his side were worthy of their victory.

"We knew we were going to face a tough game, but we had a very good game," he added. "We can still regret the number of missed or stopped chances by Anthony [Lopes], who had a very good game. The score could have been wider.

"As long as you are at 1-0, you are not immune to a reaction, Lyon pushed for that. But on the whole game, both on the possession of the ball and the clear situations, we deserved our victory in my opinion."

Lionel Messi fired Paris Saint-Germain back to the Ligue 1 summit as his early goal secured a 1-0 win over Lyon.

Despite PSG dominating possession for long stretches at Groupama Stadium, Christophe Galtier's side had to fend off a determined Lyon in the second half to take maximum points.

PSG's win means they leapfrog Marseille at the top of the table after extending their winning streak to six matches across all competitions.

Defeat for Lyon ended their run of eight straight league victories on home soil – the longest span in the big five European leagues.

PSG took the lead after just five minutes, as Messi swept a first-time shot past Anthony Lopes following a neat one-two with Neymar.

Messi was then denied from a tight angle as the visitors dominated the opening 20 minutes, while Lopes blocked Kylian Mbappe's 20-yard effort.

Lyon responded well and squandered a glorious opportunity to equalise when Alexandre Lacazette headed wide from six yards.

Home captain Lacazette and Karl Toko Ekambi shot straight at Gianluigi Donnarumma as Lyon continued to threaten, while the latter also sent a 25-yard drive whistling narrowly wide of the left post.

PSG almost doubled their lead within a minute of the second half starting, as Castello Lukeba headed Messi's goal-bound shot off the line.

It then took magnificent reflexes from Lopes to prevent Neymar and Messi from increasing the lead, while Thiago Mendes' brilliant last-ditch intervention also thwarted Neymar.

The visitors survived a scare when Marquinhos blocked Moussa Dembele's goalbound header, before Messi was denied a late second as Lopes saved brilliantly from his free-kick. Sergio Ramos was denied by the offside flag when he tucked in the loose ball.

Paris Saint-Germain boss Christophe Galtier insists he has never thought about taking the captaincy away from Marquinhos, pushing back at the Brazilian's critics.

Under the former Lille and Nice boss, the Ligue 1 champions have enjoyed a bright start to the new season, aided by revived performances from Neymar and Lionel Messi in attack.

It has not always been the same story at the back, though, with Marquinhos coming in for some criticism amid suggestions the club would be better suited with another captain on the pitch.

Speaking ahead of his side's final match ahead of the international break against Lyon, Galtier said he has not considered changing captains and defended the centre-back's performances.

"The captaincy, I have never thought of taking it away from him," he stated. "He knows everything. He can talk. He is irreproachable.

"He knows when he can come to see me to share certain points of view. He is a very good relay for me. In the field, I have several relays with him - Sergio Ramos, Presnel Kimpembe, Kylian Mbappe.

"On his performances, I am surprised by your analysis. I do not share it. He must assimilate to a new system, that is all."

Marquinhos was included in Brazil's squad for their final set of fixtures ahead of the Qatar 2022 World Cup.

Real Madrid have joined the race to land Inter centre-back Milan Skriniar, with the 27-year-old's contract set to expire at the end of this season.

Skriniar has been one of the most in-demand defenders in the world this year, with numerous bids coming during the last transfer window from Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Tottenham.

While Inter are keen to fend off the outside interest and lock him into a new contract, the fact that he will be able to leave on a free transfer at the conclusion of the campaign could force their hand.

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID HOPE TO SECURE SKRINIAR ON FREE TRANSFER

Madrid took advantage of the free agent market this past window, signing Antonio Rudiger when his Chelsea contract finished, and Football Insider claim they have similar plans for Skriniar.

Inter reportedly turned down bids worth in the €60million range from PSG with the hope an upgraded contract could keep Skriniar in Italy long-term, but with time running out, Tuttosport is reporting the French giants will return with a bid of €30m in January.

The Football Insider report also stresses how important Tottenham's Antonio Conte views the big Slovakian, having started 31 out of 38 league games for Conte when he was with Inter for their Serie A title in 2020-21.

 

ROUND-UP

– 90min is reporting Arsenal are considering a move for 27-year-old free agent midfielder Xeka after his contract with Lille recently expired.

– According to The Mirror, Liverpool are leaning towards terminating the loan of Juventus' Arthur Melo just weeks after the 26-year-old midfielder arrived at Anfield.

– After an impressive loan stint at Fiorentina last season, Real Madrid right-back Alvaro Odriozola has caught the eye of another Italian club, with Juventus said to be interested in a January move in the range of €15m.

– Leicester City centre-back Caglar Soyuncu has decided to sign with Atletico Madrid when his contract finishes at the end of the season, per Mundo Deportivo.

– The Independent is reporting Everton are preparing a new contract offer for Anthony Gordon that will pay him six times his current salary.

A potential Paris Saint-Germain exit for Neymar was never on the table for the Ligue 1 giants, amid rumours Kylian Mbappe wanted him out, says sporting advisor Luis Campos.

The Brazil international endured a difficult 2021-22 campaign in the French capital, where he became something of a scapegoat for perceived shortcomings amid the fanbase.

That led to speculation that Mbappe, fresh from an extension that shut down a move to Real Madrid, wanted to move him on, with the younger star reportedly given a say in transfer dealings as part of his new contract.

But a superb start to the current term by the Selecao forward effectively quieted any discussions of a departure, and now Campos says there was never any talk over a move away for him.

"No," he told RMC Sport. "Neymar is a very good player. He arrives on time, all the time, and he hasn't missed training. He is involved in the team and the club project."

The Brazilian's resurgence has come under the guidance of a new face in the dugout, in the shape of Christophe Galtier, who appears to have trimmed the edges of the Mauricio Pochettino era from the club.

Campos joined the club as an advisor a month before the former Lille boss arrived from Monaco, and has waxed lyrical about what he brings to the team, revealing he told the latter of his own appointment before his family.

"When I was invited to take over this position, the first thing I did was call Christophe Galtier," he added. "[I did it] even before calling my wife and my mother!

"I know his values, his abilities, and what he can bring. We can work together, we have a great mission. We save a lot of time. You have to win quickly, and to win quickly, you have to have the right people with you."

Paris Saint-Germain did not have a good transfer window, according to the club's football advisor Luis Campos.

The French champions underwent a significant overhaul following the departure of Mauricio Pochettino, with Campos arriving and swiftly appointing Christophe Galtier as the Argentine's successor.

PSG's new hierarchy then brought in a wealth of additions, including Vitinha and Fabian Ruiz, but were unable to complete a move for Inter defender Milan Skriniar.

That defensive gap is one of the reasons why Campos was left underwhelmed by the club's business in the transfer window.

"We are coming to the end of the transfer window without the perfect balance. We have a huge quality in the squad, no doubt. In the end, it was not perfect," he told RMC Sport.

"It's always hard to have perfection. But we work to be as close as possible to perfection. This is a serious problem for us.

"When we have three central defenders and we started playing with three central defenders, it puts us in difficulty. I'm not going to talk about names. We didn't just talk to Skriniar. If we are missing a piece, the puzzle is not complete.

"We did not have a good transfer window. The transfer window is a long time. The first week, we managed to make Vitinha. After that, we have six or seven weeks without anything. In the last week, everything is much more expensive."

Campos also detailed the vast amount of work that he and Galtier inherited at the French capital, with the squad requiring a significant cull.

"When I arrived, there were 54 players and no second team. With Christophe, we said we had to be ourselves. We wanted to have 21-22 players," he explained.

"With 54 players, PSG has the obligation to ensure financial fair play, which is complex. Complex measures have been taken. We created different model.

"The economic and sports must work together. We are a football club. The priority has been the economic filter, for me it is very clear.

"When the club thinks of only sports and forgets the economic, it is a disaster. The opposite is the same."

Sergio Ramos and Ansu Fati were left out of Luis Enrique's Spain squad on Friday ahead of Nations League games against Switzerland and Portugal.

Head coach Luis Enrique also excluded in-form forward Iago Aspas but called in the uncapped Borja Iglesias and Nico Williams.

The upcoming games are the last for Spain before Luis Enrique chooses his World Cup squad, so all eyes were on whether former captain Ramos, particularly, would return to favour.

Ramos won a record 180 caps for Spain but may have played his final game for La Roja, unless Luis Enrique has a change of heart before November.

The door has been left ajar, but time is running out for Ramos and Aspas.

"These players have been in the national team. They can return to the national team without any doubt," Luis Enrique said on Friday.

It might be a different story for Fati, who has been in favour when fit and is working his way back to his best shape at Barcelona after an injury-disrupted 2021-22 campaign.

Fati has yet to start a LaLiga game this season but has managed two goals and two assists when coming off the bench, in just 120 minutes of action.

Luis Enrique said such limited action was telling at this stage, adding: "Hopefully we will see the best Ansu again, but today I don't see him on the list. He is in the process of gaining confidence and improving after not playing for a long time."

Speaking at a press conference, Enrique said: "Every time there is a squad list, what draws attention is those who aren't in, but I prefer to talk about those who are. I have 25 players that I consider the best for these matches."

 

Athletic Bilbao's Williams, whose brother Inaki recently switched his football allegiance from Spain to Ghana, was hailed by Luis Enrique as "a pure winger", and a player the coaching staff wanted to see up close.

Luis Enrique knows Betis forward Borja already, having previously coached him at Celta Vigo, and said he appreciated the 29-year-old's "always-smiling style on the pitch". He has four LaLiga goals already this term.

Aspas can probably make plans for November and December that do not involve Qatar 2022. The veteran Celta Vigo striker has been an outstanding performer in LaLiga and has five goals already this term in the competition, just one fewer than top scorer Robert Lewandowski.

More remarkably, Aspas has got his goals despite having an expected goals (xG) tally of just 1.4, indicating he is vastly outperforming what would be expected from him.

However, the 35-year-old last played for Spain in 2019.

Spain face Switzerland at La Romareda in Zaragoza on September 24, and tackle Portugal three days later in Braga.

Spain squad: Unai Simon (Athletic Bilbao), Robert Sanchez (Brighton and Hove Albion), David Raya (Brentford); Pau Torres (Villarreal), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Jose Gaya (Valencia), Hugo Guillamon (Valencia), Diego Llorente (Leeds United), Eric Garcia (Barcelona), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid); Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Rodri (Manchester City), Pedri (Barcelona), Koke, Gavi (Barcelona), Carlos Soler (Paris Saint-Germain), Marcos Llorente (Atletico Madrid); Pablo Sarabia (Paris Saint-Germain), Nico Williams (Athletic Bilbao), Marco Asensio (Real Madrid), Alvaro Morata (Atletico Madrid), Borja Iglesias (Real Betis), Yeremy Pino (Villarreal), Ferran Torres (Barcelona).

Cristiano Ronaldo's future at Manchester United was a major source of speculation during the transfer window.

The 37-year-old Portuguese forward reportedly wanted to leave United in order to fulfil his desire to play Champions League football and challenge for trophies in the top leagues.

However, Ronaldo was unable to secure a move, with the likes of Napoli, Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid publicly distancing themselves from him following links, which may have led to another option being considered down the line.

TOP STORY – RONALDO TO RE-VISIT SAUDI OFFER IN JANUARY

Cristiano Ronaldo is reconsidering a lucrative offer from an unnamed Saudi Arabian club and could move in January, according to The Mirror.

Ronaldo had a stunning £211million Saudi offer during the transfer window but declined the move as he remained focused on playing in Europe.

But he will re-visit that in January after failing to secure a move, as he comes to the realisation his desire to play Champions League football and win trophies in top leagues may be fading.

Ronaldo has also struggled for game time this season at United under new boss Erik ten Hag, starting just one out of six Premier League games so far.

ROUND-UP

– L'Equipe claims that Kylian Mbappe's Paris Saint-Germain contract expires in 2024 and not 2025, as that final year is at the sole discretion of the player. Mbappe was close to joining Real Madrid last term before signing a lucrative extension with PSG.

Inter are eager to work on a contract extension for defender Milan Skriniar who is out of contract at the end of this season, reports L'Interista. The Slovakian defender was pursued by PSG during the last transfer window, while Tottenham were also credited with an interest.

Arsenal will look to loan out 19-year-old Brazilian winger Marquinhos in order to gain first-team experience and game time, reports FourFourTwo. As a result, the Gunners will aim to bring in a short-term replacement in January.

N'Golo Kante has declined a new two-year deal with Chelsea and is out of contract in 2023, claims The Athletic.

– UOL says  Brighton and Hove Albion are interested in hiring Palmeiras boss Abel Ferreira to replace Graham Potter, who exited for Chelsea last week.

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