Messi and Neymar train but Pochettino refuses to confirm PSG squad for Brest

By Sports Desk August 19, 2021

Lionel Messi and Neymar have been training together for Paris Saint-Germain, but Mauricio Pochettino refused to comment whether the pair would feature against Brest.

PSG travel to Brest on Friday fresh from back-to-back Ligue 1 wins against Troyes and Strasbourg, the first time in three years they have begun a new domestic season in such fashion.

Despite a positive start to their campaign, interest continues to centre around Messi, who arrived in Paris after a shock exit from Barcelona amid the club's financial difficulties in August.

However, it remains unclear whether the highly anticipated pairing of Messi and Neymar will be reunited to form a formidable trio with Kylian Mbappe at Stade Francis-Le Ble.

"We haven’t decided the squad yet but we will do so shortly," Pochettino responded in Thursday's news conference when asked about Messi.

"We will analyse whether he can be in the squad. In terms of what Lionel Messi brings, everybody knows that.

"His presence here in terms of what he represents is something we have talked about a lot in recent days.

"I am pleased with how he has settled in and how he has connected with squad. When you have talent at this sort of club, the understanding is not just in the dressing room but also on the pitch."

 

As part of a fearsome frontline with Luis Suarez at Barcelona between 2014 and 2017, Messi and Neymar between them created 2.1 chances for one another per 90 minutes, resulting in 22 assists for the duo.

But, like Suarez when he moved to Barcelona, it is Messi who will have to quickly link-up with an already established pairing, Mbappe and Neymar.

Neymar's injury troubles have meant that he and Mbappe have only played 3,552 minutes together – less than half as many as Messi and Suarez – though they have combined for 102 chances (2.6 per 90) and 21 assists (one every 169 minutes).

However, as with questioning over Messi's inclusion, Pochettino kept his cards close to his chest as to whether Neymar would feature.

"As I said, we are assessing that and of course, we take physical and footballing attributes into account," the head coach reiterated. "Within the squad, we have to find the right balance."

Mbappe, who is the only player to have recorded more than one assist following a ball carry in Ligue 1 this term (two), is the third part of Pochettino's forward puzzle, but his future remains in question.

With just a year left on his current deal, links to Real Madrid were expected to be quashed by Messi's arrival as the Frenchman realises his opportunity to challenge for Champions League glory at the Parc des Princes.

"I think he [Kylian Mbappe] is very motivated and working hard ahead of this season," the former Tottenham boss added. "We are thinking the same things we have been thinking in recent weeks. He is our player and I want him to be here this season."

"The most important thing is Kylian Mbappe is calm and knows what he is doing. He knows what he wants to do. We know that he is our player. We want him to be here.

"My conversations with Kylian Mbappe are all about football. He has another year on his contract and even if he doesn’t renew, he is still a PSG player and we are pleased with him, and from what I understand, he is pleased with us."

Related items

  • Kane's future depends on his ambitions, says former Spurs boss Villas-Boas Kane's future depends on his ambitions, says former Spurs boss Villas-Boas

    Harry Kane's future at Tottenham hinges on whether he can achieve his ambitions by staying put, according to former Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas.

    Kane was heavily linked with a move to Manchester City at the end of the 2020-21 season, but the Premier League champions were seemingly unwilling to meet Spurs' asking price.

    The uncertainty around the player's future led to him sitting out the opening-weekend win over City at the start of the 2021-22 campaign.

    Despite a slow start to the season, with Kane managing only two goal involvements (one goal, one assist) in his first 13 Premier League games, he went on to record 24 (16 goals, eight assists) over his next 24 games.

    The turnaround in form came shortly after the arrival of Antonio Conte as Nuno Espirito Santo's replacement, and the Italian guided Spurs to fourth place and Champions League qualification, secured with a final-day 5-0 rout of Norwich City, in which Kane scored and assisted.

    Further questions regarding Kane's future are likely to arise during pre-season, though City have since moved on and completed the signing of Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund.

    Villas-Boas, who managed Spurs for 17 months until December 2013, feels Kane's future will be determined by his personal ambitions, and if any potential buying club is willing to match Tottenham's demands.

    "I think it's up to him to decide what is progress in his career or not," he told Stats Perform. "If you fulfil your own ambitions of being in Tottenham and making a part of the history in Tottenham, that is great.

    "If you have ambitions to go further and to test yourself in other environments, I think you will depart.

    "I think it is up to him, it's also up to the clubs who can come around knocking and take him away, but I wish him all the best as well.

    "He's a good boy, he has proved a lot of people wrong, he has established himself and I sincerely hope he does well."

  • Arteta makes big Saliba statement as he summons France defender for Arsenal duty Arteta makes big Saliba statement as he summons France defender for Arsenal duty

    Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta insists William Saliba will be returning to the Emirates Stadium next season after his year at Marseille.

    The centre-back has spent the season on loan at Marseille, and reports in France claimed the 21-year-old hoped to stay on with the Ligue 1 club for another campaign.

    However, Arteta says he will need Saliba in 2022-23 as Arsenal face Europa League commitments alongside their Premier League duties, and it means a long-awaited competitive senior debut awaits the young defender.

    The France international was signed by Arsenal from Saint-Etienne in July 2019, but immediately loaned back to Les Verts, and subsequent loans with Nice and Marseille have followed.

    Saliba was a near ever-present for Marseille, who finished second in Ligue 1, and was named in the league's team of the season.

    He won his first two senior caps for France in March friendlies against Ivory Coast and South Africa, putting him in the frame for a World Cup place. He has also been included in Les Bleus' squad for next month's Nations League games.

    "He has to come back," Arteta told RMC Sport. "He has the experience and the environment necessary to be competitive with us.

    "If he had stayed with us this year, with one Premier League match per week, with Ben White and Gabriel, he wouldn't have had half the playing time he had with Marseille, that's for sure.

    "For his growth and what he can do next season that wouldn't have been good. William wasn't with us because he wouldn't have had the playing time to gain experience. That's it, there's nothing else."

  • Bowen and Justin receive maiden England call-ups as Serie A stars Abraham and Tomori return Bowen and Justin receive maiden England call-ups as Serie A stars Abraham and Tomori return

    England manager Gareth Southgate has called up West Ham winger Jarrod Bowen and Leicester City's James Justin for the first time, while Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori return.

    The Three Lions face Germany, Italy and Hungary next month in the Nations League, with England confirming a 27-man squad on Tuesday.

    Bowen, who scored 18 goals for West Ham this season to help David Moyes' side finish seventh in the Premier League and reach the Europa League semi-finals, "was in the frame" to be called up in March, according to Southgate, but did not make the cut.

    Only Harry Kane scored more goals in all competitions over the 2021-22 season among Englishmen in the Premier League.

    Leicester full-back Justin is a surprise choice, though his ability to fill in at left-back may have seen him get the nod, with Luke Shaw having missed the end of the season due to injury and Ben Chilwell only making his Chelsea comeback on Sunday.

    Jordan Henderson does not feature despite being set to play in this weekend's Champions League final with Liverpool, though his club-mate Trent Alexander-Arnold is included. Tyrone Mings and Eric Dier miss out in defence.

    "We felt like Hendo [Henderson] we didn't need to see this summer. Trent is slightly different," Southgate told a news conference on Tuesday.

    Tomori, who has enjoyed a brilliant season with Serie A champions Milan, is called up in Mings' place, while another English player to thrive in Serie A this season – Roma striker Abraham – is also present. 

    A first-half double against Torino on Friday saw Abraham become the highest-scoring English player in a single season in the Italian top flight, surpassing the previous mark of 16 set by Gerald Hitchens at Inter in 1961-62. 

    Kyle Walker makes his return after recovering from injury, while Kieran Trippier is also recalled. Reece James figures as well in a defence stacked with right-backs.

    Crystal Palace defender Marc Guehi is included, though Southgate confirmed the centre-back has a knock, while Harry Maguire is the only Manchester United player to feature in the squad, with Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho unsurprisingly absent again.

    Similarly, there is no place for Arsenal's Emile Smith Rowe, while James Maddison has been overlooked despite a strong season with Leicester.

    England begin their Nations League campaign against Hungary on June 4, before taking on Germany in Munich three days later.

    Italy face the Three Lions at Molineux on June 11 in a repeat of the Euro 2020 final, while Hungary also visit Wolverhampton on June 14.

     

    England squad in full: Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Burnley), Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal); Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Conor Coady (Wolves), Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace), Reece James (Chelsea), James Justin (Leicester City) Harry Maguire (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Fikayo Tomori (Milan), Kieran Trippier (Newcastle United), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Ben White (Arsenal); Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Conor Gallagher (Crystal Palace, on loan from Chelsea), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Kalvin Phillips (Leeds United), Declan Rice (West Ham), James Ward-Prowse (Southampton); Tammy Abraham (Roma), Jarrod Bowen (West Ham), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Manchester City), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City).

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.