Pochettino: Who wouldn't want to coach a player of Messi's calibre?

By Sports Desk January 28, 2021

Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino said every coach in the world would want a player of Lionel Messi's quality at their disposal.

Messi, 33, is out of contract at Barcelona at the end of the season and the six-time Ballon d'Or has been heavily linked to PSG and Manchester City.

Pochettino only took over at PSG at the start of the month but is already facing questions over Messi's potential arrival.

The former Tottenham boss, though, said every coach in the world would want Messi.

"Sometimes words are unnecessary. With the question you ask me, everything is understood," Pochettino told AS.

"What coach in the world would not want to have a player of the calibre of which you are telling me? I totally understand the question, but it is looking for a controversy.

"It is a dangerous question if a word of mine is taken out of context … Pochettino will come disrespectfully, Pochettino talks about this, Pochettino talks about that."

Pochettino has previously spoken of the bond he shares with Messi thanks to their connection to Newell's Old Boys, where both were in the youth system.

While the 48-year-old paid tribute to Messi, he is also preparing to meet the star forward when PSG face Barcelona in the Champions League last 16.

"There is nothing left to say. I respect and admire him so much that I prefer never to say anything or refer to him. It is the best tribute you can do to someone," Pochettino said. 

"We share the two of us who have worn the Newell's jersey and that is something very big. That bond unites us. 

"That he is one of the best players of all time I will not discover and when we meet we will fight for our interests."

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    Football was suspended in March 2020 after the virus began to spread across the country.

    However, after months of meetings and deliberations, the decision to allow for the resumption of football was announced today by Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Desmond McKenzie following a meeting between representatives of the Ministries of Health and Wellness, and Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the Premier League Clubs Association, the Jamaica Football Federation, the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management and the Social Development Commission.

    “We have been meeting for some time to ensure that all possible mechanisms concerning the efficient prevention and management of COVID-19 are applied to all aspects of Club competition, including the health and safety of players, referees and Club workers and administrators. Further details regarding the starting times and the conditions under which the competitions will be held, will be disclosed at a later date,” Minister McKenzie said.

    “Even as the management of COVID-19 remains paramount, the Government is keen for sport to resume in a phased, orderly manner, consistent with the continued reduction in the country’s positivity rate. The impact of sport on social well-being and social development is well recognized, and the Government will support all efforts to promote the enjoyment of sport in the safest way possible. In this regard, the Government is actively considering applications from a range of sporting associations.”

    JFF President Michael Ricketts welcomed the news.

    “This is very positive news for the stakeholders of football,” Ricketts said in a statement late Wednesday.

    “Of course, my first thoughts are with our players and coaches who will now have opportunities open to them to resume the trade that they so love. I also want to commend and thank the partners who have invested, for their patience and loyalty to the sport.

    “Finally, thanks to the ministries and state agencies for the work done to get us here. While I am sure the players are overjoyed with the news, I implore them to be constantly mindful of the current local health conditions and act responsibly. While we play, let’s play our part in containing this pandemic. Let the games begin.”

    The approval was given for the format that allows clubs to train at their home grounds with the official matches to be held at central venues. Most recently, the PFJL had developed a protocol for the official matches to be held in a controlled environment based on the significant upsurge in the number of COVID-19 cases in Jamaica starting in February. However, with the success of the most recent measures that have cut back the number of new cases, all parties were satisfied that the previous model would align with the current measures.

    There is also greater confidence with the start of national vaccination efforts.

    The JFF will now work to finalize the design of the format for the official matches following the delay in receiving approval and the resulting shortened season. The JFF will also have to integrate the Jamaica Premier League matches with those on the national and regional calendars as both the Gold Cup and World Cup Qualifiers are being held in the coming months.

    Details of the start, duration and league format will be shared in the coming days.

    Like most sporting events globally, the Jamaica Premier League will be held without spectators in order to contribute to the nation’s efforts to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus. However, fans will be able to enjoy the matches as the PFJL has secured a broadcast partner for the Caribbean who will be responsible for identifying television broadcasters for Jamaica and the region.

    Acting General Manager of the PFJL, Arlene L. Martin was very pleased with the go-ahead.

     “The PFJL appreciates the government’s recognition of the importance of the resumption of professional football as well as the confidence in the approved protocol and the ability to comply with these measures. The PFJL has worked with our national and regional stakeholders to develop a thorough protocol that we are confident will support and even enhance the government’s efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. We look forward to an exciting season with the Clubs and our commercial partners and to delivering quality football to our fans.”

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    A gripping LaLiga title race should be all Real Madrid need to pick themselves up from their Champions League semi-final loss to Chelsea, according to Zinedine Zidane.

    Madrid head coach Zidane conceded his team were beaten by the better side after goals from Timo Werner and Mason Mount gave Chelsea a 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge, sending them through 3-1 on aggregate to an all-English final against Manchester City at the end of this month.

    Los Blancos looked a shadow of the side that won three consecutive European crowns under Zidane between 2016-2018, but the France great insisted he was proud of his players' endeavours on Wednesday.

    Now they face up to a LaLiga battle, where they are level on points with Barcelona and two points behind leaders Atletico Madrid with four games remaining. Barca and Atleti face one another this weekend.

    "We have spoken on this many times this season. It has been a year with many injuries, ups and downs, and that’s what we have dealt this year," Zidane told a post-match news conference midweek.

    "Despite it all, we have done good things in this Champions League in order to reach this stage.

    "I think we deserved it and we were only one step from the final, but we have to congratulate this team [Chelsea], who has been better tonight.

    "It doesn't change anything. I am very pleased and very proud and now it is the time to rest and be focused on the last four games in LaLiga."

    Captain Sergio Ramos and Ferland Mendy were passed fit to start for Madrid and struggled to find top gear, although Zidane insisted he had no regrets over the selections.

    "If my players have played it's because they were ready for the 90 minutes," he said.

    "Ramos and Mendy were ready to play, that's why I put them on. It was a semi-final and they were ready."

    Another man recently back to fitness, Eden Hazard, lasted 89 minutes but had minimal impact against his former club.

    After the match, images of Hazard congratulating his old Chelsea team-mates played very badly in Madrid, but Zidane urged patience with the €100million forward.

    "Eden needs to play regularly and get his confidence back," he added. "And you get that slowly and playing games.

    "So, we need to get back Eden and it will be possible playing games."

  • 'Participants will face full force of the law' - JFF warns individuals taking part in illegal youth academy league 'Participants will face full force of the law' - JFF warns individuals taking part in illegal youth academy league

    The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) has cautioned any players, officials or referees who take part in an illegally organised youth competition that they could face possible sanctions.

    A fixture list for a competition, which features several youth academy teams, that was scheduled to take place from May 1 to June 13, has come to light in recent days.  The teams listed on the flyer included Phoenix Academy, Kickers Academy, Baptist Alliance Academy, Pembroke Elite, Irvin Youth Academy, Aptitude Academy, and LAX.

    The competition venue listed was the Mona High school, which is the training base of Phoenix Academy.  The JFF, who is the only body capable of sanctioning official club competitions across the island, has made it clear it has given no permission for the event to be staged and demanded its immediate termination.

    The JFF themselves have not received permission to resume competition on the island by the Jamaican government, based on the existing COVID-19 protocols.

    “No permission has been granted for any tournament to go ahead, and all players, coaches and other individuals associated with any tournament do so illegally under the country’s disaster preparedness laws,” a release issued by the JFF read.

    “The JFF is therefore mandating all concerned with any tournament, youth or adult, to cease and desist all activities. Anybody found to be involved in any new activity will face the full force of the laws of the federation and will be reported to the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management for their attention.”

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