Pochettino on Madrid-linked Mbappe: It's a gift to have him at PSG

By Sports Desk August 29, 2021

Mauricio Pochettino described it as a "gift" to have Kylian Mbappe after the forward demonstrated his abilities with both goals in Paris Saint-Germain's 2-0 win over Reims.

Mbappe has been the centre of much transfer speculation having apparently told the club he wants to leave. Real Madrid are seemingly the only runner in the race to sign a player who is in the final year of his current contract at PSG.

There was no questioning his commitment to his current employers on Sunday, though, as the 22-year-old scored twice at Stade Auguste Delaune, in the process overshadowing a debut appearance off the bench for new recruit Lionel Messi.

Madrid have reportedly had two bids rejected for Mbappe, with sporting director Leonardo making clear PSG hope he stays in the French capital.

"Kylian is our player," Pochettino said in his post-match interview on Amazon Prime after a fourth straight win at the start of the new Ligue 1 season.

"You know in football there are rumours, but I think our president and our sporting director are very clear, he is here. 

"We are very happy to have him here, that is. He is one of the best players in the world. It's a gift to have him."

Mbappe has scored or assisted a goal in each of his past nine games in Ligue 1 (10 goals, three assists). 

Both goals against Reims came from crosses, with the opener headed in from Angel Di Maria's delivery. Achraf Hakimi was the provider for number two in the second half, albeit only after the home team had seen a potential equaliser ruled out by VAR for offside.

"Of course we like to play with the strongest and Kylian has shown that he's a great striker," PSG midfielder Marco Verratti told Amazon Prime after the final whistle.

"It's not today that we discover Kylian. He's a phenomenon, everyone expects a lot from him. Sometimes we wait until he misses a game to fall on him but we know him, we are very happy with him."

PSG are unbeaten in 11 Ligue 1 away games (W10 D1), their longest unbeaten run away from home in the top flight since a 17-match streak between February 2018 and January 2019.

A home clash with Clermont is up next for Pochettino's squad, albeit not until after the international break, by which time Mbappe could well have departed for Spain.

Related items

  • Neymar ruled out for six to eight weeks with ankle injury Neymar ruled out for six to eight weeks with ankle injury

    Paris Saint-Germain have confirmed Neymar will be out for six to eight weeks with an ankle injury.

    The Brazil star was taken off on a stretcher during the closing stages of the 3-1 win over Saint-Etienne and was seen leaving the stadium on crutches.

    Head coach Mauricio Pochettino said he did not expect the injury to be serious, but tests have shown Neymar has sprained the ligaments in his left ankle.

    PSG said on Monday that a further update on his recovery time would follow this week.

    Should Neymar be sidelined for two months, he would miss eight games in all competitions, including PSG's final Champions League group game against Club Brugge and the league trip to Lyon on January 8.

    The 29-year-old has struggled for top form in 2021-22, managing three goals and three assists in 14 appearances in all competitions.

  • Portugal's national health institute reports 13 cases of Omicron variant at Belenenses SAD Portugal's national health institute reports 13 cases of Omicron variant at Belenenses SAD

    Portugal's national health institute, INSA, has reported 13 cases of the new Omicron variant of COVID-19 at Belenenses SAD.

    B-SAD were forced to face Benfica on Saturday with just nine players - including two goalkeepers - after positive tests for 13 members of the squad.

    Benfica went into half-time 7-0 up and B-SAD were forced to forfeit shortly after the restart due to insufficient players as injuries reduced the hosts - who were without any substitutes - to six men.

    Among the B-SAD players to miss out was Cafu Phete, who had recently spent time in South Africa - where the Omicron variant was first detected - and it now appears that he and the other 12 members of the squad have tested positive for this new strain of coronavirus. 

    "Preliminary tests carried out at INSA strongly suggest that all 13 cases associated with players of Belenenses SAD are linked to the variant of concern Omicron," INSA's statement to Publico read.

    "The predictive value of the tests carried out is already very high."

    Benfica's players are set to be tested as Portuguese authorities respond to the Omicron variant being found inside the country's borders.

    "We'll have more proactive isolation and a more intensive testing of contacts," Graca Freitas - Portugal's Director-General for Health - told TSF. 

    Flights into Portugal from Mozambique have now been banned, while two positive cases were discovered among the 218 people to have arrived on the last such flight on Saturday.

  • Stafford not blaming injuries as Rams slump continues Stafford not blaming injuries as Rams slump continues

    Matthew Stafford insisted he was feeling "fine" physically as he faced questions over his fitness following the disappointing loss at the Green Bay Packers.

    The Los Angeles Rams fell to 7-4 after losing 36-28 in an entertaining road game against Green Bay on Sunday.

    Stafford threw for 302 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, but also had his lowest completion percentage (55.3) of the season so far.

    After making an electric start to the season, Stafford has thrown five interceptions in a run of three straight loses for the Rams, going for a pick-six in each of those defeats.

    Stafford also had a lost fumble against the Packers and a report before the game suggested he was battling with back, elbow and ankle problems despite not appearing on the injury report.

    "I am feeling fine," said Stafford, per ESPN. 

    "Back was kind of barking at me a little bit that week [Week 9], but I haven't missed any time since then. 

    "The rest of my body, is it 100 per cent? No, nor is anybody else's in this league at this point of the season.

    "You have to take them all [my turnovers] individually. I know that is probably tough for you guys to hear, but that is the truth of the matter. That's the way I see it."

    Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey has been surprised by a losing streak that he says must end given the team's star quality.

    "It's not a good mood – I can say that," he said.

    "Of course I am [shocked]. We have guys that are way too good for us to be losing games like this and losing games on the road. 

    "We've just got to get it right. We have to play better, everything has to be better because we're too good to be losing games like this but we're not playing like we're that good right now, so we got to correct our stuff."

    Stafford still sits third in the NFL with 3,316 passing yards, second in the league with 27 TD passes and has a fourth-best passer rating of 105.2.

    He has had 27 passing plays which have gone for 25 or more yards, which is third-best in the league in a tie with Aaron Rodgers, who was the winning QB in Sunday's game at Lambeau Field.

    The impressive Rodgers had 307 passing yards and two touchdowns without an interception, as well as rushing for a score.

    It was Rodgers' 60th career game with at least 300 yards through the air and two TDs, becoming only the fourth QB to achieve that feat after fellow NFL greats Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.