Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo believes Mauricio Pochettino can help refine the Ligue 1 club's identity.

Thomas Tuchel was sacked as PSG coach in December, with former Tottenham boss Pochettino confirmed as his replacement on January 2.

Leonardo said it was crucial for Pochettino to ensure PSG had their own defining philosophy but acknowledged that would take time.

"I think it's important to assert a style on the pitch, because Paris must have its identity," he told France Football.

"It does not happen in a few weeks but over several years. And I think Pochettino can allow us to refine that in a constant way and in connection with the DNA of the club."

Tuchel led PSG to back-to-back Ligue 1 titles and they reached the Champions League final last year before falling to Bayern Munich.

Leonardo said the decision to sack the German should have come as little surprise to the former Borussia Dortmund coach.

"We knew, and he [Tuchel] knew, that it would be difficult to renew his contract at the end of the season," he said.

"But there, we decided to anticipate a little. We did not change coaches to show off. I don't think it could be a surprise for Tuchel.

"It was not the first time that we discussed the situation together. Maybe he didn't understand me anymore."

PSG are top of the Ligue 1 table ahead of hosting Montpellier on Friday.

Paris Saint-Germain are keeping a close watch on the future of Barcelona captain Lionel Messi, according to the club's sporting director Leonardo. 

Messi has entered the final six months of his contract at Camp Nou and could make a sensational free transfer once his deal expires after this season. 

PSG and Manchester City have been tipped as the most likely clubs to sign the six-time Ballon d'Or winner, who was sent off in the 3-2 Supercopa de Espana loss to Athletic Bilbao on Sunday, if he chooses not to extend his contract with Barca. 

While he says now is not the time to say anything concrete about a possible agreement, Leonardo suggests the Ligue 1 champions will be ready to make their move should Messi wish to seek a new challenge. 

"Great players like Messi will always be on PSG's list," he told France Football. "But this is of course not the time to talk about it, or to dream about it. 

"But we are sitting at the big table of those who are following the case closely. In fact, no, we're not yet sitting there, but our chair is reserved, just in case... 

"Four months is an eternity in football, especially at this time." 

It has been reported in France that PSG's priority for now is to extend the contracts of star forwards Neymar and Kylian Mbappe. 

The world's most expensive two players see their present deals at Parc des Princes expire at the end of next season. 

Leonardo maintains PSG will not be forced into any special concessions in order to keep them at the club, but he has a positive feeling they can reach agreements. 

"I hope they're convinced PSG is a good place right now for an ambitious and very high-level footballer," he said. 

"We just have to find an agreement between their desires, their requirements, our expectations and our means. 

"We don't have to beg them 'please stay'. Those who really want to stay will stay. We talk regularly and I have good feelings on these two cases."

Real Madrid star Sergio Ramos' future appears no closer to being sorted.

Ramos, 34, is out of contract at the end of the season and reportedly turned down a one-year deal from Madrid.

And the Spain international's future remains uncertain.

 

TOP STORY – RAMOS, REAL MADRID NEGOTIATIONS AT A STANDSTILL

Negotiations between Real Madrid and Sergio Ramos are at a standstill, according to Le 10 Sport.

Amid the uncertainty over his future, Ramos has been linked with numerous European giants.

But Telefoot reported there had been no contact between Ramos and Paris Saint-Germain.

 

ROUND-UP

- Starting to find form again for Borussia Dortmund, Jadon Sancho is set to be the subject of transfer speculation ahead of 2021-22. But Sky Sports reports talks about a move for the reported Manchester United target are unlikely in January, with an off-season switch possible.

- PSG seem keen to land Dele Alli in January. Fabrizio Romano claims the midfielder is pushing to join the Ligue 1 giants on loan and Mauricio Pochettino's PSG will not give up on a deal.

- Milan appear set to add depth to their squad. The Serie A leaders have agreed a deal with former Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic, according to CalcioMercato.

- Staying at Milan and they are also reportedly set to land Fikayo Tomori from Chelsea. Romano says Tomori is set to join on loan with an option to buy for €30million (£26.7m).

Will a Juventus-Paul Pogba reunion become a reality?

The future of Manchester United star continues to dominate headlines.

A move back to Turin could be on the cards for Pogba.

 

TOP STORY – JUVE TO MAKE POGBA OFFER

Serie A champions Juventus will try to prise Paul Pogba from Manchester United at the end of the season, according to the Calciomercato.

Pogba appears set to leave United following the 2020-21 campaign after his agent Mino Raiola claimed the French midfielder was unhappy in Manchester.

Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain have been linked but Juve, who signed Pogba from United in 2012 before losing him to the Red Devils four years later, want to bring the World Cup winner back to Turin.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Telegraph reports Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola will be given £200million to spend on new players in the next transfer window. Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland and Inter forward Romelu Lukaku are on the list of potential targets, as well as Benfica's Darwin Nunez amid doubts over Sergio Aguero 's future. Haaland has also been linked with neighbours United , Madrid , Barca , Liverpool and Juve .

Bayern Munich are interested in Madrid defender Eder Militao , claims Mundo Deportivo. It comes as Bayern look to replace David Alaba , who is set to leave the Bundesliga champions on a free transfer. Alaba has been tipped to join Madrid .

Milan  are close to re-signing star pair Gianluigi Donnarumma and Hakan Calhanoglu , says Tuttosport. Corriere dello Sport reports Milan are also nearing a deal to sign veteran forward Mario Mandzukic .

- The Athletic claims Mesut Ozil is poised to leave Arsenal for Turkish giants Fenerbahce after reaching an agreement in principle to terminate his Gunners contract.

- The Transfer Window Podcast claims Madrid are considering the possibility of using Eden Hazard in a deal to lure Kylian Mbappe from PSG.

Memphis Depay has been strongly tipped to move to Barca , however, Ok Diario reports the Lyon captain could join Madrid following Luka Jovic's loan return to Eintracht Frankfurt.

Paris Saint-Germain and Brazil star Neymar revealed he considered retiring from football.

Neymar is regarded as one of the best players in the world, but he is a maligned figure due to his theatrics on the pitch and lifestyle away from the game.

The most expensive player in history after joining PSG from LaLiga giants Barcelona for €222million in 2017, Neymar admitted criticism has had an impact on him.

"I will never lose the passion for football, but I have had moments that I did want to stop playing," the 28-year-old told Gaffer Magazine. "Once, I reached a point of asking myself why I should keep playing if they do not like it.

"I used to go home hot-headed and then remembered everything I've done to get me here.

"The love I have for football and all those things just calmed me down and brought me back to reality. Because, I'm very lucky. Truly. I have achieved a lot of things in my career that made me and my family incredibly happy.

"Just debuting for Santos FC, winning the first title with Santos, winning the Libertadores Cup was super important as well. Joining Barcelona was a dream of mine since I was a kid, winning the Champions League, my arrival in Paris. These moments will always remain special to me."

Neymar added: "I have never felt pressure. Quite the contrary, I am a person that can easily manage pressure; being the number 10 of Brazil's national team, the number 10 at PSG and just being Neymar.

"I think I take it well but at the same time I know my commitment and I'm incredibly thankful to be representing teams such as PSG and Brazil. I know that when I play I have to do it differently, I have to give it 100 per cent because that's what everyone expects."

Neymar has scored three goals in eight Ligue 1 appearances for PSG this season, while he has netted 10 times across all competitions.

The Brazilian forward played the entire match as PSG moved top of the table with a 1-0 win at Angers on Saturday.

Jesus Perez defended Kylian Mbappe after the Paris Saint-Germain star fired another blank as the Ligue 1 champions overcame Angers 1-0 to move top of the table.

Layvin Kurzawa's goal with 20 minutes remaining saw PSG edge Angers at Stade Raymond Kopa on Saturday, leapfrogging rivals Lyon in the process, though Rudi Garcia's side can return to the summit by topping Metz on Sunday.

PSG are six games unbeaten in Ligue 1, while the titleholders have kept 12 clean sheets this season – more than any other team in the top-five European leagues.

But Mbappe was a topic of discussion post-game after the reported Real Madrid target saw his scoreless run extend to four matches as he was withdrawn 10 minutes from time.

PSG assistant Perez, deputising in the absence of head coach Mauricio Pochettino due to his positive coronavirus test, praised the France international forward – who has scored 12 goals in 16 Ligue 1 appearances this term and 14 across all competitions.

"Kylian was instrumental in this victory," Perez told reporters. "He fulfilled his role. We changed his position during the match. 

"He then better attacked the spaces. He's less successful at the moment, but he has his share in that success. He worked hard for the team."

With Pochettino self-isolating, Perez took charge as PSG secured back-to-back league wins, having also claimed the Trophee des Champions during the week.

PSG duo Marco Verratti and Leandro Paredes exchanged 72 passes against Angers, the highest tally for a midfield pair in Ligue 1 this season.

Asked about Pochettino and his absence, Perez said: "He had contact with the players by video before the game. We too had it before the match and then at half-time to exchange. 

"We continued to discuss what we did this week. We also talked about training for the coming week. We will take advantage of this week's macrocycles to focus on specific points during the session. We prepared everything with Mauricio."

"It was difficult but we took the three points," he added. "Angers are a very well-organised team which gave us some concerns. But we went for this victory."

Paris Saint-Germain moved to the top of Ligue 1 as Layvin Kurzawa's solitary goal sealed a 1-0 win over Angers on Saturday. 

With head coach Mauricio Pochettino self-isolating after testing positive for COVID-19, assistant coach Jesus Perez took charge of the champions at Stade Raymond Kopa.

He looked set to oversee a frustrating draw before Kurzawa's first goal of the season 20 minutes from time secured back-to-back league wins following last weekend's victory over Brest. 

The result moved PSG two points clear of Lyon at the Ligue 1 summit, although Rudi Garcia's side can reclaim top spot if they overcome Metz on Sunday.

The hosts started in a confident mood and Pierrick Capelle forced Keylor Navas into a smart save after just two minutes. 

PSG belatedly woke from their slumber, with Kylian Mbappe clipping over after racing onto Neymar's pass before the Brazil international saw a close-range effort deflected into the side netting. 

Moise Kean then glanced a header wide as PSG ended the first half having failed to register a single shot on target. 

Mbappe flashed a strike into the side netting shortly after the interval, while Navas superbly kept out Lois Diony's diving header at the other end.

Paul Bernardoni diverted Mbappe's effort wide after the France star had been played clean through by Neymar, but the Angers goalkeeper could do little about Kurzawa's winner. 

Alessandro Florenzi's right-wing cross was deflected into the left-back's path and he powered home a fine volley from eight yards to secure PSG's 10th win in 11 games against Angers.

Mauricio Pochettino will miss Paris Saint-Germain's Ligue 1 clash with Angers after testing positive for coronavirus.

The club confirmed in a tweet that Pochettino had returned a positive PCR test and will enter self-isolation.

Assistants Jesus Perez and Miguel D'Agostino will take charge for Saturday's clash at the Stade Jean-Bouin.

After a 1-1 draw against Saint-Etienne in his first game at the helm, Pochettino has overseen a 3-0 win over Brest and a 2-1 Trophee des Champions victory against Marseille.

Wednesday's defeat of PSG's arch rivals secured Pochettino's first trophy of his career as a coach.

PSG are a point behind Lyon at the top of Ligue 1.

Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino has defended Kylian Mbappe amid accusations the forward has lost form and focus.

France star Mbappe has scored only twice in his past seven games in all competitions, having started the season by hitting nine goals in as many games.

Beyond a lack of goals, the 22-year-old has been enduring a run of performances in which he has made few decisive contributions.

In his most recent five outings, Mbappe has twice failed to have a shot – including in Wednesday's 2-1 Trophee des Champions win over Marseille – and failed to create a chance for team-mates in three separate games.

He has also completed more than two dribbles in a single game on only one occasion in that run and has been criticised for losing the ball too often. Against Marseille, he lost possession 19 times, the most of any PSG player, and only dribbled past a defender twice.

Former PSG midfielder and coach Jean-Michel Larque, speaking via RMC, claimed Mbappe was careless against Marseille as he was trying to "ridicule" his opponents, adding that the player's current malaise means he "has no place at Paris Saint-Germain".

However, ahead of Saturday's Ligue 1 clash with Angers, Pochettino insisted Mbappe is striving to do his best.

"I'm very happy with Kylian's form," Pochettino told a news conference. "He is an important player for us.

"He is trying hard for the team. I'm happy with his effort and his involvement against Marseille.

"As with everything, we are always looking to improve but I'm pleased with Mbappe's effort and commitment. He's played 90 minutes in all three games [since Pochettino's arriva], which shows I'm pleased with the way he is performing.

"So much is expected of him and he's in the spotlight, but as I said, I'm very pleased with him and, over time, he'll get goals and more assists."

Asked if Mbappe needed a rest to recover top form, Pochettino said: "There are a lot of myths about the way you manage players in a team in terms of fitness.

"Our decisions are based on the best for all the players. Mbappe has played all three games because he is fit. He will improve with the more minutes he gets."

PSG head to Angers having not lost to Stephane Moulin's side in the past 20 league meetings since a 3-1 defeat in January 1975.

However, the champions have won only once in their previous four away league matches and have failed to win five of their past nine top-flight games, as many as in their previous 30 in the competition.

Dayot Upamecano is set to leave RB Leipzig – but not just yet – while Eric Garcia is getting closer to joining Barcelona.

Upamecano has been linked with several European giants after impressing for the Bundesliga club.

But the defender looks set to stay at the Red Bull Arena until the end of the season.

 

TOP STORY – UPAMECANO SET FOR €42M MOVE

Leipzig are not considering selling Upamecano in January even though he can leave for £37.4million (€42m) at the end of the season, according to The Guardian.

Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea have each been linked with a move for the France international.

Upamecano has made 21 appearances in all competitions for Leipzig this season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Garcia is seemingly getting closer to a Barcelona move. Sport reports the Manchester City defender is a step away from joining the Catalan giants on a five-year deal and Barca are hopeful a move can happen in January.

- Coming out of contract at the end of the season, Hakan Calhanoglu's future has been a talking point. Sky Sport reports negotiations are ongoing between Milan and the midfielder, who has been linked to United.

- Mauricio Pochettino seems eager to get Dele Alli to Paris Saint-Germain. The Guardian reports the Tottenham midfielder is PSG's main target this transfer window.

- Arkadiusz Milik is set to leave Napoli. CalcioMercato reports Marseille want the striker and had an offer of €8m rejected.

- With Frank Lampard under pressure, Chelsea were reportedly considering bringing back Avram Grant to support the head coach. However, The Sun reports the Premier League giants are not lining up such a move.

Erling Haaland is one of the sought-after players in world football.

The Borussia Dortmund forward can reportedly take his pick from Europe's elite.

But if his agent Mino Raiola has his way, Camp Nou could be Haaland's next destination.

 

TOP STORY – HAALAND COULD LEAVE BVB AT SEASON'S END

Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland could leave the Bundesliga club for Barcelona at the end of the season, according to TV3 program Onze.

Haaland has been linked with the likes of Barca, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Manchester City and Juventus following his exploits for Dortmund.

The Norway international forward reportedly has a €75million (£66.8m) release clause at the end of his second season in Dortmund, though he could depart sooner rather than later.

 

ROUND-UP

- Fabrizio Romano says United are not working on a deal to sign Madrid captain Sergio Ramos. The Spanish superstar is out of contract at the end of the season, and he has been linked with Paris Saint-Germain, Juve, City, Chelsea and Liverpool. A move to Liverpool is reportedly not on the horizon due to his role in the injury to Mohamed Salah in the 2018 Champions League final.

City have joined Serie A champions Juve in the race to sign Sassuolo star Manuel Locatelli, reports the Daily Mail.

- According to Sky Sport Italia, Sportitalia and Tuttomercatoweb, Milan are set to meet with free agent Mario Mandzukic over the next 24 hours to discuss a short-term deal. Staying at San Siro and Sky Sport Italia says the Rossoneri are close to signing Torino midfielder Soualiho Meite on loan with the option to buy.

Arsenal are interested in Barca goalkeeper Neto, claims Sky Sports. With backup Runar Alex Runarsson struggling in London, the Gunners are hoping to bring in Neto on loan.

- Marca reports Barca are targeting Valencia star Jose Gaya to bolster their left-back position, while Villarreal's Alfonso Pedraza is another option.

Juventus are set to complete the signing of American defender Bryan Reynolds from MLS club Dallas, says Romano. The 19-year-old will join Benevento until June, before linking up with Juve.

Mauricio Pochettino acknowledged the role Thomas Tuchel played in his first managerial trophy as Paris Saint-Germain beat Marseille 2-1 in the Trophee des Champions on Wednesday.

Mauro Icardi and Neymar – the Brazil international's 18th successful penalty from the 19 he has taken for PSG – scored for the Ligue 1 champions, while Dimitri Payet set up a tense finale with an 89th-minute strike for Andre Villas-Boas' side. 

PSG held on, though, to claim a record eighth consecutive Trophee des Champions crown and their 10th overall midweek.

It was only Pochettino's third game in charge of PSG and the former Tottenham boss made sure he recognised the work of Tuchel, who was dismissed as head coach on December 29. 

"I want to thank the players, Leonardo [sporting director] and Nasser Al-Khelaifi [president]," Pochettino – a Champions League and EFL Cup runner-up with Spurs – said. "I also have a thought for Thomas Tuchel and his staff, who allowed us to play this match."

"We are making progress in all areas where we want to implement our ideas. We have a very intelligent group of players, with great adaptability. We are very happy.

"I hope to win other titles, but the first one will always be special.

"The group has shown a lot of maturity, it has learned from its mistakes. It's a huge emotion to win with this staff, it's difficult to describe in words, especially since it's a club that made me become a better person, a better player."

Marseille finished the game having had four shots on target to PSG's three, although the Parisians enjoyed a whopping 63.6 per cent possession and completed 268 more passes than their opponents. 

Despite that, Villas-Boas believes his side did not deserve to lose. 

"It was a balanced game, with few chances for both teams," he said. "We were the best team. I think we didn't deserve to lose this game. PSG going 2-0 up went against the run of play

"Congratulations to PSG. The best honour they gave us was the party that followed, because we offered them a difficult match."

Mauricio Pochettino secured the first trophy of his managerial career as Paris Saint-Germain edged past Marseille 2-1 in the Trophee des Champions on Wednesday. 

In just his third game in charge of the French giants, former Tottenham boss Pochettino watched his side claim the trophy for the eighth consecutive year without ever having to get out of second gear. 

Mauro Icardi got them on their way, sliding in from close range after 39 minutes before Neymar, making his first appearance in a month after an ankle injury, added a second from the penalty spot five minutes from time.

Dimitri Payet pulled one back for Marseille in the 89th minute, but PSG held on to claim a deserved win. 

Neymar will make his return for Paris Saint-Germain when they take on rivals Marseille in the Trophee des Champions.

PSG will look to win the trophy for a remarkable eighth consecutive season as they line up against Marseille in Lens on Wednesday.

New head coach Mauricio Pochettino confirmed Neymar will play some part in the contest after missing the last five matches with an ankle injury.

"Neymar is available - he will be with the group," Pochettino said about the Brazil forward, who has been out for a month since the Ligue 1 defeat to Lyon.

"We will decide on Wednesday if he will start."

There have been concerns about burnout for Kylian Mbappe, who again played 90 minutes in the 3-0 Ligue 1 win over Brest on Saturday.

But Pochettino is optimistic about the World Cup winner's fitness ahead of a match with high stakes, where the coach feels pride is more important than the silverware on offer.

"Kylian is in perfect condition," Pochettino said when asked if Mbappe could start for a third time in eight days.

"We are evaluating the different options for our line-up on Wednesday. We will see which team is the best to win this match. We need to perform at the best level to get the win against Marseille.

"My main motivation is to win this game. We are playing against a great rival in OM. Pride is important, much more than titles. We will do everything to win this match. 

"If we win, we know it will bring a trophy. But the most important thing is pride."

Asked about his own experiences of Le Classique as a PSG player, Pochettino added: "I remember these meetings perfectly.

"All the games were very special. For the players, the fans, the club, football is a sport of emotions.

"We realise with the health situation how much we miss the fans. The importance of this match, I had already felt it in my time."

Five players were sent off in stoppage time when these two sides met in Ligue 1 in September, following a brawl, but Pochettino sees that having no bearing on this week's game.

"The first match [against Marseille this season] is one I was not involved in. I can't talk much about it. I saw pictures. The situation is over," Pochettino said.

PSG will be without Colin Dagba, the latest player at the club to test positive for coronavirus.

Dagba has started both PSG games under Pochettino, but the defender will not play no part against Andre Villas-Boas' side as he is self-isolating.

Fellow defender Thilo Kehrer and Rafinha have also tested positive for the virus since PSG returned to training this month.

Colin Dagba is the latest Paris Saint-Germain player to test positive for coronavirus ahead of the Trophee des Champions clash with Marseille.

Dagba has started both PSG games under new head coach Mauricio Pochettino, but the defender will not play no part against Andre Villas-Boas' side at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis in Lens.

The Ligue 1 champions confirmed on Tuesday that Dagba had contracted COVID-19 and is self-isolating.

Fellow defender Thilo Kehrer and Rafinha have also tested positive for the virus since PSG returned to training this month.

Moise Kean, Mauro Icardi and Pablo Sarabia were on target as PSG secured a first win of the Pochettino era on Saturday, beating Brest 3-0 in Ligue 1.

 

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