Ramos takes giant leap at PSG as Pochettino braces for Man City test

By Sports Desk November 23, 2021

Sergio Ramos has taken "a massive step" in his Paris Saint-Germain career by putting himself in contention to face Manchester City, according to Mauricio Pochettino.

Although former Real Madrid captain Ramos appears only likely to make the bench for Wednesday's heavyweight battle at the Etihad Stadium, he is closer than ever to a long-awaited debut.

Rumours had circulated that PSG were considering getting rid of close-season recruit Ramos before he reached this point, as he battled back from a calf problem.

Yet Pochettino is now planning to include him as a key figure in his team, as soon as the Spain legend is fully fit.

He was physically ready enough to travel to England and give Pochettino an option, with the PSG head coach saying ahead of the game: "Sergio is doing well in the last week.

"It was a joy for him and for the team to be involved in the training session, and then he needs to build his fitness step by step. I think a very good step, a massive step, is to be involved here in the game. That is very important.

"Not only is it a first step, but it's a massive step for him to be involved. Then we will think to give, when the opportunity arrives, maybe the possibility to play."

Pochettino said watching Ramos progress from this point would be key, as he attempts to match his team-mates pace for pace.

PSG midfielder Marco Verratti enthused about the prospect of lining up in the same team as the 35-year-old Champions League great, who has won this competition four times.

As PSG hunt down a first triumph at the highest level in Europe, having a sharp Ramos at the heart of their defence later in the tournament could make all the difference.

"Sergio Ramos is a player who needs no introduction," said Verratti. "He achieved so much at Real Madrid over many years, and he is always a difficult player to face. He has so much personality. He understands the game and what he needs to do.

"He is great in attack and a fantastic defender. He has shown how good he is throughout his career. We are pleased he is in the squad, and the fact he has been training with us has already been fantastic. He is now in better shape, and he can really help this team."

Ramos only made 15 LaLiga appearances in his final season at Madrid, and last played in May when Los Blancos went down to Chelsea in the Champions League.

However, he stands joint ninth on the list of players with the most Champions League appearances, having played in the competition 129 times. He has won 79 of those games, the most by a defender.

His 15 goals have only been beaten by Roberto Carlos and Gerard Pique (both 16) among defenders, and Barcelona stalwart Pique is the only defender to have made more headed clearances than Ramos (313 to 293).

Kylian Mbappe missed training with PSG on Monday, but the forward was back on the pitch with his team-mates in Manchester on Tuesday evening.

Pochettino said: "Kylian Mbappe is doing well today. Yesterday, he could not train. But we hope it is a small issue."

The Argentine coach said he hoped Mbappe would be "in the best condition possible" for the game.

PSG are close to securing a place in the last-16 stage, and a win on Wednesday would assure them of a top-two finish in Group A.

Should Mbappe feature, as seems likely, it would be his 50th appearance in the Champions League. That would make him the second-youngest outfield player to reach 50 games in the Champions League at 22 years and 339 days, behind only Cesc Fabregas (22y 331d).

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