Kylian Mbappe scored one and set up another on his return to action as Paris Saint-Germain claimed a 4-1 win against Nice, who finished Friday's Ligue 1 match with nine men.

The France forward, who sat out the international break due to a hamstring issue, replaced Pablo Sarabia in the 83rd minute at Allianz Riviera and helped kill off the game after the hosts threatened a comeback.

Ignatius Ganago pulled one back for Nice with 23 minutes to play following Angel Di Maria's first-half brace, but their momentum was disrupted by red cards for Wylan Cyprien and Christophe Herelle in quick succession.

Mbappe then marked his comeback with PSG's third and set up Mauro Icardi for a fourth, sending his five points clear of closest challengers Nantes at the summit.

Lionel Messi believes a return to Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar is "complicated" because some people do not want him back at the club.

Neymar attempted to engineer a return to Camp Nou during the previous transfer window, just two years after leaving for the Ligue 1 side in a world-record €222million deal.

The strained relationship between the two clubs was said to have impacted transfer discussions, however, and the Brazil international remains a PSG player.

Messi starred in a front three alongside Neymar and Luis Suarez and they remain in contact, but the Argentina star is unsure if a reunion at Barca will be possible.

"We talk often and we have a group chat with Luis Suarez," Messi told Buenos Aires radio station Metro 95.1. 

"The issue of his return is complicated. Firstly, because it was difficult to see him leave, secondly because of how he left.

"There are people from the club and members who do not want him to return. If it is for sporting reasons, Neymar is one of the best in the world, but I understand the other factors."

Messi, presented with the European Golden Shoe for a sixth time this week, recently declared he intends to see out the remainder of his career at Barcelona.

However, unlike fellow club icon Andres Iniesta, he has ruled out signing a lifetime contract

"That was talked about a while ago, as was done with Iniesta and the others," he said.

"I don't want a contract to tie me up because I don't know how I'm going to feel. I don't want to be [under contract] if I'm not well.

"I'm going to compete as long as I feel good physically, but obviously I would stay a lifetime."

Messi also opened up on his rivalry with Cristiano Ronaldo, who he competed with for team and individual honours for just short of a decade during the Portuguese forward's time at Real Madrid.

Ronaldo moved to Juventus in 2018 and Messi admits Barca's Clasico showdowns with Madrid have lost some lustre as a result.

"Yes, it was good when he was in the Spanish league," Messi said.

"It made the Clasicos more special and gave them more value."

The transfer window may be shut, but Paul Pogba's future is still making headlines.

Pogba – who is set to miss the Premier League showdown against Liverpool due to injury – reportedly eyed a Manchester United exit and a move to Real Madrid.

A switch to the Santiago Bernabeu could be on the horizon after Pogba was snapped with Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane in the United Arab Emirates.

 

TOP STORY – POGBA MEETS ZIDANE IN DUBAI

Pogba has been linked with a fresh move to Madrid after the United star was pictured with Zidane, reports The Mirror.

Pogba wanted to leave United during the previous window, with LaLiga giants Madrid and former club Juventus the two favourites to sign the Frenchman, but a move did not materialise.

However, Pogba – recovering from a foot injury – was seen with Madrid head coach Zidane during his trip to Dubai, fuelling fresh speculation over his future at Old Trafford.

 

ROUND-UP

- According to 90min, United are monitoring Paris Saint-Germain forward Edinson Cavani. The 32-year-old Uruguay international is out of contract at this season's end and has been linked to Juve, Atletico Madrid and Inter Miami.

- Inter are chasing Brescia sensation Sandro Tonali and Atalanta's Dejan Kulusevski, says Calciomercato. Both players are 19 years of age and attracting interest in Serie A.

- Calciomercato also reports Tottenham are ready to send Christian Eriksen to Juventus in exchange for Adrien Rabiot. Eriksen's contract expires at the end of the season and has been linked to the likes of Madrid and United, while Rabiot only moved to Turin from PSG at the end of 2018-19.

- Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, United, Spurs and Inter have been credited with interest in Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Denis Zakaria, according to Bild.

- Manchester City have emerged as favourites to sign Hearts teenager Aaron Hickey, claims the Daily Star.

Paris Saint-Germain head coach Thomas Tuchel hailed "extraordinary" midfielder Marco Verratti after he wore the captain's armband for Italy during the international break.

PSG star Verratti captained Italy for the first time as the Azzurri routed Liechtenstein 5-0 in Euro 2020 qualifying on Tuesday.

Tuchel was full of praise for Verratti – who joined the French champions from Pescara in 2012 – ahead of Friday's Ligue 1 clash away to Nice.

"He deserved it [to captain Italy]," Tuchel told reporters. "He's a leader. Everybody can be a leader but not the way he does. The difference is in the little things.

"The five players I've been talking about [Marco Verratti, Thiago Silva, Marquinhos, Edinson Cavani, Kylian Mbappe] are the leaders of our locker room and he does it in his own way with his spirit.

"He's always at 100 per cent and concerned about everybody's happiness. He shows great empathy. He can be a leader regarding that kind of things. On the pitch he has the skills.

"He plays fast and simple. He's amazing. He's an extraordinary player. We're very happy he's here with us."

Mbappe and Cavani are in the squad for PSG's trip to Nice, while world-record signing Neymar is absent due to a hamstring injury.

It is a boost for Tuchel, who could hand a start to PSG forward Mauro Icardi – who is on an initial loan deal from Inter.

"We can start to think about it [Cavani playing alongside Icardi] but it's different for Mauro," Tuchel said. "He hasn't reached 100 per cent yet but he has played with us in a few games.

"He showed that he could play in spite of some pain. He can play for us, he has defended and put intensity. He's very tactically disciplined. Now, he did two weeks with us, he wasn't with the Argentina team. It was good because he was able to be with us, we were able to work in terms of volume and intensity.

"It's difficult for him. We cannot make a full preparation for a single player now. It is not possible. He may have to play [Friday]. We cannot get him ready during two, three weeks, just for him, we cannot do that. It is a juggling exercise. Mauro can start without any doubt, he hasn't felt any pain for two weeks, he's ready I think."

Paris Saint-Germain have been boosted by the return of Kylian Mbappe to their squad to face Nice, with Edinson Cavani also included.

The Ligue 1 champions were dealt injury blows during the international break as world-record signing Neymar and impressive midfielder Idrissa Gueye sustained hamstring issues.

But Thomas Tuchel can call on star attacker Mbappe again on Friday, with the World Cup winner available after a complication with his hamstring ahead of the previous match against Angers.

Mbappe had been out earlier in the campaign with a similar issue and had to withdraw from France duty during the international break.

Tuchel told a news conference on Thursday the 20-year-old has been "training normally" as he hoped to have him available.

"I am happy that we reached an agreement with the France national team because he couldn't play," Tuchel said. "On Monday, he trained by himself to keep coming back. He couldn't have played against Turkey.

"He now has a full week of training under his belt, but that's different, training with a small group of players, compared to a high-intensity match of football.

"You can't play when you're only 80 per cent. You need to be 100 per cent for these types of matches."

Mbappe was joined in the PSG squad by their record goalscorer Cavani, who has not played since August.

The Uruguay international - out of contract at the end of the season and linked to Juventus - is back following a hip injury.

Thomas Tuchel says Edinson Cavani is integral to his Paris Saint-Germain plans despite the uncertainty as the striker approaches the end of his contract.

Uruguay striker Cavani is due to reach the end of his deal at Parc des Princes after this campaign, and he has been linked with a possible move to Juventus.

The 32-year-old has been with the French capital giants since 2013 and is their all-time record goalscorer.

His loss would be keenly felt, even if Cavani has been sidelined by a hip injury recently and remains a doubt for Friday's Ligue 1 match with Nice.

Asked about Cavani, and whether he hoped the frontman would agree a new deal, Tuchel said in a news conference on Thursday: "It's too soon to speak about such things. I'm sure Edi is speaking with the club. He knows it's his club.

"I don’t know Edi’s ideas exactly at the moment. I count 100 per cent on Edi this season. He's been missing for several weeks and the main thing for me is to push Edi on the pitch, so we've got a fit and in-form Edinson Cavani."

Tuchel left little doubt that he wants Cavani to remain with PSG beyond this season, explaining he is a member of a core group of players that he uses as a sounding board.

"He's got the most goals for the club. Edi is very important," Tuchel said. "He's in the group of five players I always speak with, to have an opinion from them on all things. He's important in the dressing room and on the pitch."

Paris Saint-Germain boss Thomas Tuchel has revealed he used to idolise Patrick Vieira as he prepares to take on the World Cup winner.

Tuchel's modest playing career in lower-league German football was grinding to a premature halt when the young Vieira was helping France lift the Jules Rimet Trophy on home soil in 1998.

Vieira went from strength to strength with Arsenal and Les Bleus, later enjoying spells at Juventus, Inter and Manchester City.

It took Tuchel many years to establish himself in the game as a coach, but success at Mainz and Borussia Dortmund paved the way for a move to Paris.

At the age of 46 he is three years Vieira's senior, and they will go head to head in Ligue 1 on Friday when leaders PSG travel to take on ninth-placed Nice.

As well as being a clash between two sides backed by unrivalled financial muscle in the French game, the touchline action could also be fascinating.

Vieira could not take the quiet route to success that Tuchel has achieved, given his status in the game, but learning the ropes on the Manchester City staff and in MLS with New York City FC led him last year to a first big job in Europe.

Tuchel is looking forward to facing Vieira again, saying: "He was one of my idols when I watched football as a fan and a player. He was a guy you could learn everything about the game from.

"Amazing career, amazing player and his personality on the field. When I was in New York on my sabbatical [in 2017-18], I watched a game of New York City FC.

"We didn't manage to meet after, so we only had some phone calls. And I was very surprised how humble and how friendly he was when we met for the first time in Nice last season."

Speaking on PSG's YouTube channel, Tuchel added: "For me, it's amazing if the best players share their experiences and be coaches.

"I like the approach that you take your way not on the highest level where you have played, but you learn the profession. Because it is good if you have the experience as a player, but it's a completely new job to learn.

"It's a nice team now in Nice. I'm looking forward to seeing him again and hopefully we wish him all the best – from Saturday!"

Paris Saint-Germain boss Thomas Tuchel is furious his players are being forced to play so many games and warned it could become bad for their health.

Tuchel has told the football authorities they have packed the calendar with so many matches and tournaments that the game will suffer.

The German coach will take his players from the French capital to the south coast for a clash with Nice on Friday, having barely had time to reacquaint themselves after the international break.

And after losing star forward Neymar for four weeks to a hamstring injury sustained on Brazil duty, Tuchel is understandably angry his job is being made more complicated by factors over which he has no control.

"Friday night for us after an international break is a bit bizarre. I can't understand it," Tuchel said. "We'll have to adapt."

Tuchel was speaking in his pre-match news conference on Thursday, and when asked about the busy schedule for his players, he was stinging with his criticism.

"There's too many competitions, too many matches, too many friendlies," Tuchel said. "We've got a big problem for me because there's no preparation phase [for the Nice game].

"There's too much competition. This summer we had the Africa Cup of Nations, the European Under-21 Championship, the Copa America; next year we've got the Copa America again, the European Championship – it never stops.

"For me, it's too much. There are too many matches for the same players. At the end you feel the lack of quality, lack of health, lack of preparation, lack of time to train for sport at the highest level."

He added: "We're convinced it's necessary for everyone to have a holiday and to have time to recover and prepare, but that's not the case in football. Teams play too many games and get too many injuries to players."

PSG lead Ligue 1 but have struggled to assemble a fully fit squad all season, with the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Edinson Cavani and Julian Draxler all battling to return to peak fitness.

"We're doing all we can. Injuries happen," Tuchel said. "As I said, we're convinced the best thing to avoid injuries is to have proper time to prepare – good endurance and capacity for creating performance.

"It's a shame we never have the squad fully fit. We expect a lot from them – results and good performances. We have to find solutions. We're going to control as much as we can."

Uncertainty surrounds Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after a woeful start to the season and he could find himself in danger of dismissal.

United have won only two of their first eight Premier League games of 2019-20 and head into Sunday's visit of Liverpool 15 points adrift of the pacesetters.

While Solskjaer insists he still has the board's backing, there have been suggestions the club has identified a replacement.

 

TOP STORY – ALLEGRI 'VERY CLOSE' TO UNITED

Former Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri is said to be a primary target for Manchester United.

Italian publication Tuttosport claims contact with Allegri – who left the Old Lady at the end of last season – has "intensified" in recent days.

They go as far as saying Allegri is "very close to United", with the contest against Liverpool seemingly crucial.

However, United are not the only club interested in Allegri. Tuttosport also believes Tottenham are keeping tabs on him.

Mauricio Pochettino is another man under pressure following a difficult few months, though the report suggests Spurs will have to make their minds up quickly if they are to gazump United.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Daily Mail believes Solskjaer is relatively safe despite Allegri's lurking, however. It says United are looking to bolster the squad with six major signings over the next two transfer windows. Among the targets are Mario Mandzukic, Saul Niguez, Moussa Dembele and James Maddison.

- Mandzukic's wage demands could prevent a move to Old Trafford, however. Despite being 33 and entering the twilight of his career, the Croatian wants to be the club's fourth highest-paid player, according to the Sun.

- Arsenal's plan for the future, according to AS, involves persuading Real Madrid to sell Dani Ceballos, a deal that would result in Mesut Ozil being sold.

- Meanwhile, the Daily Mail also claims the Gunners also want to sign highly-rated Athletic Bilbao centre-back Unai Nunez, 22, with Everton set to rival them for the £30million-rated defender.

- Paris Saint-Germain are hopeful of securing new deals for Juan Bernat and Marquinhos, L'Equipe believes.

- Roma are set to bid farewell to Javier Pastore in January, with the Serie A side telling him he is free to leave, as per Calciomercato. A move to China, Brazil or his native Argentina appears likely.

Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Idrissa Gueye has been ruled out of action for 10 days with a hamstring injury.

Gueye, who joined PSG from Everton in July, is expected to miss their games against Nice and Club Brugge over the next week.

The Senegal international is also a major doubt for the league clash with Marseille on Sunday 27.

A statement on PSG's official website read: "Idrissa Gueye felt hamstring pain and today's exams confirmed a contracture. He will be away from training for the next 10 days."

Gueye has made eight appearances for PSG since his move, with the Ligue 1 champions winning each of those matches.

PSG discovered on Monday that star forward Neymar will miss around a month after also suffering a hamstring injury while on international duty with Brazil.

Thomas Tuchel's side are two points clear at the top of Ligue 1 after nine matches.

Mauro Icardi rejected criticism of Romelu Lukaku's performances since joining Inter and expects the Belgium striker to find form for the Nerazzuri.

Lukaku has replaced Icardi at the head of the Inter attack, signing a five-year contract with the Serie A club in a reported €80million transfer from Manchester United in August.

He has scored only three goals in eight appearances but Icardi, who last month left Inter for Paris Saint-Germain in a loan deal that can be made permanent, does not believe Lukaku has endured a poor start to life in Italian football.

"It doesn't seem to me that he's experiencing a moment of difficulty," Icardi told Gazzetta dello Sport. "In fact, I think he's started well, scoring a couple of goals immediately.

"It's not easy for anyone to play in Italy. Serie A is the most defensive championship in Europe.

"Maybe he needs a little more time to settle in, but he's already scored a lot of goals in his career. And he will do it again."

Icardi is not focused on what his future may hold, instead concentrating solely on his form for PSG. The Argentina international has scored two goals in four games for the defending Ligue 1 champions.

"This year, I'm at PSG and my goal is to give my best for this shirt," Icardi added,

"Then at the end of the season, around May or June, we'll see what happens. It's still too early to say anything."

London is still something of a home for Jose Mourinho and another job in the English capital could be on the horizon for the ex-Chelsea manager.

With Tottenham struggling for form and reports of discontent in the dressing room, Mauricio Pochettino's position is far from certain.

Mourinho has been out of a job since he was sacked by Manchester United in December and the Portuguese is reportedly waiting in the wings.

 

TOP STORY – SPURS SOUND OUT MOURINHO

Tottenham have made contact with Jose Mourinho amid uncertainty over manager Mauricio Pochettino, reports SoccerLink.

Pochettino's future in London is up in the air following Tottenham's poor start to the season, highlighted by a humiliating 7-2 Champions League loss to Bayern Munich.

While Pochettino is not facing the sack, Spurs have sounded out Mourinho about whether the former Chelsea and Manchester United boss would be interested.

 

ROUND-UP

- While Spurs target Mourinho, Manchester United appear to be closing in on Massimiliano Allegri. With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer struggling at Old Trafford, the Daily Mail reports ex-Juventus boss Allegri is preparing for the job and wants Patrice Evra to join him in Manchester.

Real Madrid will play the waiting game for Kylian Mbappe as Marca claims the Spanish giants have set a 2021 target date of trying to sign the Paris Saint-Germain star.

- According to Le10Sport, Atletico Madrid will look to sign Paris Saint-Germain veteran Edinson Cavani to a pre-contract agreement in January. Cavani's deal runs out at season's end and the Uruguay striker has been linked to Juventus and incoming MLS franchise Inter Miami.

- ESPN FC says Manchester United are ready to spend during the January transfer window following their poor start to the campaign. United are languishing in 12th after the departures of Romelu Lukaku, Alexis Sanchez and Ander Herrera.

Bayern Munich are tracking Freiburg star Luca Waldschmidt, claims Calciomercato. The 23-year-old forward made his debut for Germany this month.

- According to Tuttosport, AC Milan want €20million-rated Turkey international Mehmet Zeki Celik from Lille. La Gazzetta dello Sport reports the Rossoneri are also interested in a January move for Arsenal's Mohamed Elneny, who is on loan at Besiktas.

Paris Saint-Germain boss Thomas Tuchel has vowed he will not let Neymar get off lightly following "weeks and weeks" of campaigning for a transfer to Barcelona.

PSG fans were left unimpressed when the club's star forward attempted to engineer a move back to his former employer during the close season.

The Brazilian was booed on his return to action at Parc des Princes in September and only started to mend the rift with a run of four goals in five games leading into the international break.

But winning back favour with fans does not mean the world's most expensive player will be allowed to do as he pleases in what could be his final season in Paris.

"The supporters have expressed their opinions and I can understand them, absolutely," Tuchel told The Guardian.

"It's their right to express themselves. They're proud of their club and it's not so nice when you hear your player talking for weeks and weeks saying he wants to leave.

"As I told Neymar, sometimes it's like this in life – you have to face the truth and deal with the consequences."

German coach Tuchel said: "Sometimes it's a bit hard to see that he is a nice person when you only watch him play from outside. But he is, he's a nice guy.

"I told him: 'You think the hardest part is over, but from now on you have to deal with me and I'm going to push you hard. So the hardest thing is still to come for you.'"

Neymar faces up to a month on the sidelines with a hamstring injury sustained while on Brazil duty, so he is set for a short spell out of the spotlight.

The 27-year-old forward's goals have helped edge PSG two points clear after nine games of their bid for a seventh Ligue 1 title in eight seasons.

Asked how he defines success at a club now accustomed to winning domestic titles, Tuchel placed emphasis on forging bonds and the "little rewards" of day-to-day improvement.

"Hopefully I don't depend too much on the points and the titles because the possibility that you get sad or that you don't fulfil your own goals is too high," he said.

"There's more to life than points and trophies but we're all very competitive and we all want to win every game."

Matthijs de Ligt could become the first player to secure the Golden Boy award twice after he was included on a 20-man shortlist for this year's prize.

The honour, established by Italian newspaper Tuttosport and awarded to the best player under the age of 21 in a European top-tier league, lists Lionel Messi, Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe among its former winners.

De Ligt claimed it in 2018 when on the books of Ajax and is among the nominees for 2019 after continuing to impress with Juventus. He was the first defender to win it.

Manchester City star Phil Foden is also in contention, alongside emerging Barcelona talent Ansu Fati, despite both having been afforded minimal game time.

More established youngsters such as Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho, AC Milan's Gianluigi Donnarumma and Bayer Leverkusen's Kai Havertz are also on the list.

The winner is determined by an international online vote and will be announced in Turin on December 16. 

Full list of Golden Boy nominees: 

Gianluigi Donnarumma (AC Milan), Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus), Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich), Ansu Fati (Barcelona), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Matteo Guendouzi (Arsenal), Erling Braut Haaland (Salzburg), Kai Havertz (Bayer Leverkusen), Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid), Dejan Joveljic (Eintracht Frankfurt), Moise Kean (Everton), Lee Kang-in (Valencia), Donyell Malen (PSV), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Andriy Lunin  (Real Valladolid), Rodrygo (Real Madrid), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund), Ferran Torres (Valencia), Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid), Nicolo Zaniolo (Roma)

Neymar is expected to be out for four weeks after the Paris Saint-Germain star suffered a hamstring injury on international duty.

The Brazil forward was withdrawn in the 12th minute of the Selecao's 1-1 friendly draw with Nigeria on Sunday.

PSG announced Neymar had an MRI scan on Monday that confirmed the injury, which will be re-evaluated in eight days.

Neymar has played just five games for PSG this season owing to an ankle injury picked up in June.

The ex-Barcelona forward did not make his first appearance until September, having attempted to force a move away from the club he joined for a world-record €222million fee in 2017.

He was booed by the home fans on his return to the side in a 1-0 victory over Strasbourg, in which he scored a spectacular overhead kick winner.

The 27-year-old has four goals in his five games for Thomas Tuchel's men, who have a two-point lead in Ligue 1 and have two wins from two in the Champions League.

Speaking after the stalemate with the Super Eagles, Brazil coach Tite said Neymar was not a pre-match injury risk.

"It would be irresponsible and incompetent of me [to play him if he was a doubt]," Tite explained.

"I would have to receive the complaints of the coach and the president of PSG if that happened."

Neymar posted an image on his Instagram story of him back in Paris and receiving treatment for the injury.

The length of Neymar's absence means he is likely to miss two Champions League games with Club Brugge and Ligue 1 matches with Nice, Marseille, Dijon and Brest.

In the same announcement, PSG said Kylian Mbappe is “positively following his recovery programme” after missing the game against Angers last time out.

Edinson Cavani, who has been out since August with a hip issue, continues training with the squad.

Julian Draxler (foot) and Colin Dagba (thigh) have returned to training.

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