Kylian Mbappe scored two and set up another as Paris Saint-Germain beat Montpellier 4-0 in Ligue 1 on Friday.

Having faced recent questions over his form and focus, Mbappe responded with a decisive display at Parc des Princes to help Mauricio Pochettino's men to three points.

Mbappe broke the deadlock after Montpellier goalkeeper Jonas Omlin had earlier been sent off for fouling the France star, and he set up Neymar to mark his 100th PSG appearance with the second goal.

Mauro Icardi and Mbappe added two further goals within three minutes as the champions eased to a routine win, their fourth in a row by at least four goals against Michel Der Zakarian's side.

Montpellier, six games without a win in Ligue 1 before this contest, were left with a huge task when Omlin flattened Mbappe following a stunning throughball from Leandro Paredes, with a VAR review leading to the keeper's dismissal.

PSG eventually capitalised on their dominance 34 minutes in, Neymar and Angel Di Maria each playing decisive passes before Mbappe clipped a cool finish over substitute keeper Dimitry Bertaud.

It was Mbappe's 13th league goal of the season and the 13th time he has been assisted by Di Maria in the competition.

Neymar almost doubled the lead before the break but was thwarted by a good save from Bertaud, who then denied Mauro Icardi acrobatically early in the second period.

The second goal came on the hour mark, though, Mbappe teeing up Neymar for a simple finish after a fine lofted pass from Marco Verratti.

With the floodgates suddenly open, PSG scored a further two goals inside three minutes, Icardi drilling high into the net after good work from Alessandro Florenzi and then setting up Mbappe for a routine finish after Neymar led a quick break.

Bertaud did manage to deny Layvin Kurzawa a stunning fifth, tipping the full-back's bicycle kick onto the crossbar.

 

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. 

Paris Saint-Germain saw off Brest 3-0 to collect their first victory under new head coach Mauricio Pochettino and close the gap on Ligue 1 leaders Lyon.

PSG were held to a 1-1 draw by Saint-Etienne in Pochettino's first game in charge on Wednesday but had too much quality for Brest in Saturday's encounter at the Parc des Princes.

Moise Kean's 11th goal of the campaign in all competitions set the reigning champions on their way with 16 minutes played and substitutes Mauro Icardi and Pablo Sarabia each got on the scoresheet in the final 10 minutes.

The win - less emphatic than the scoreline may suggest - moved Pochettino's men within a point of pacesetters Lyon, who battled back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Rennes and retain top spot.

Neymar must be given freedom to focus on his game rather than worry about leadership, Paris Saint-Germain head coach Thomas Tuchel said on Saturday.

The French champions have an internal system whereby they have five captains, with on-field skipper Marquinhos supported by Presnel Kimpembe, Kylian Mbappe, Keylor Navas and Marco Verratti.

Although Thiago Silva and Edinson Cavani left the club and that group at the end of last season, Neymar was not added to it.

Given his seniority, the Brazilian may have been an obvious choice, but Tuchel wants Neymar to keep all his attention on scoring goals and creating for others.

"I often speak to Neymar on his own and I'm always close to him. We speak a lot," said Tuchel, ahead of Sunday's Ligue 1 clash with Lyon.

"It's important that he is free to say what he thinks. We often talk about tactics and also personal matters. At the moment he has so much going on in his head.

"He takes responsibility on the pitch. He is an artist. He is creative. For that reason, I don't want him to think about organisational matters.

"If there are very important matters to discuss he is one of our key players of course.

"It is not to do with him because I want him to stay focused on the pitch so that he can play with all of his freedom and creativity."

With Tuchel declaring on Saturday that injured striker Mauro Icardi is unlikely to play again until the new year, the onus falls increasingly on the likes of Neymar and Mbappe to keep the goals flowing for PSG.

After a rocky patch of form, PSG have strung together three straight wins, beating both Manchester United and Montpellier by 3-1 margins before trouncing Istanbul Basaksehir 5-1 on Wednesday.

That game was delayed a day after racism allegations against a fourth official on Tuesday caused the game to be postponed.

A knock-on effect was that PSG's players were denied the two-day break that Tuchel had planned for them, and he knows Lyon, who missed out on this season's European competitions, have had a full week to prepare for their big clash at the Parc des Princes.

Tuchel identified Memphis Depay as a major threat to PSG, speaking of his ability to roam and find space, and said Lyon are a team who show "bravery" and "almost have the same quality that we do".

He pinpointed Lyon and Lille as the Ligue 1 sides who provide competition on a level comparable to the Champions League.

Lyon, however, have a miserable recent record against PSG in the capital, having not won any of their past 12 away trips, losing 10 of those games and drawing the other two.

Their last league win at the Parc des Princes came in October 2007, a 3-2 success in which Hatem Ben Arfa scored twice for Lyon.

Tuchel believes Lyon midfielder Houssem Aouar, linked with PSG among a host of clubs, has the quality to play for any team.

"We have respect for all clubs and players so we don't talk about other players, but it's clear that Houssem Aouar is a key player for Lyon and the national team," Tuchel said of the France star.

"It is obvious he could play in any team in the world. He's a fantastic player and has been key for Lyon so we need to prepare well to face him."

Providing cause for concern for Tuchel is the fact PSG, despite leading Ligue 1 going into the weekend, have already lost three times. Lyon, meanwhile, are unbeaten in their past 10 (W6 D4).

Tuchel said PSG's defeats were "not good news" and "purely our fault", and it means they have lost three times in their opening 13 league games for the second successive season.

Paris Saint-Germain will be without Mauro Icardi and Pablo Sarabia for Wednesday's huge Champions League clash with Manchester United.

Last season's runners-up are level on points with RB Leipzig and three behind leaders United in a tightly-contested Group H.

Thomas Tuchel's side are without a quartet of first-team players for the crucial match at Old Trafford as Julian Draxler and Juan Bernat are also deemed unfit.

Icardi returned from a near-two-month lay-off with a knee injury in Saturday's 2-2 draw with Bordeaux.

However, PSG confirmed on their official website that the striker felt pain in his right adductor during a training session and will not be part of their travelling party.

Fellow attacker Sarabia was also a late substitute against Bordeaux but he has since sustained a muscle injury.

Draxler and Bernat have not featured since October and September respectively, meanwhile, and have been officially ruled out of the trip to Manchester.

Paulo Dybala to Paris Saint-Germain?

Dybala, previously linked to Manchester United, Tottenham and PSG, is reportedly facing an uncertain future in Turin.

Juventus could be prepared to exchange players with PSG.

 

TOP STORY – DYBALA OUT, ICARDI IN?

Juventus are considering a swap deal that would send Paulo Dybala to Paris Saint-Germain in exchange for Mauro Icardi, according to Calciomercato.

Dybala has struggled for form in 2020-21, while contract negotiations with Serie A champions Juve have so far proved fruitless.

Icardi was linked to Juve prior to joining Ligue 1 holders PSG permanently from Inter and the Argentina forward could swap clubs with Dybala.

 

ROUND-UP

- TodoFichajes says Arsenal are set to make an offer for RB Leipzig defender Ibrahima Konate. Leipzig centre-back and team-mate Dayot Upamecano has dominated headlines amid links to the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich, but Konate is also attracting interest.

Juve are eyeing a move for Atletico Madrid centre-back Stefan Savic, reports Calciomercato. Savic has also been linked to Inter.

- A Bola claims Premier League champions Liverpool are interested in signing Sporting CP left-back Nuno Mendes.

Raul Jimenez to Inter? Calciomercato says Inter could replace Lautaro Martinez with the Wolves star. Martinez has been linked to Barca and Manchester City.

Thomas Tuchel says he "understands" criticism of Paris Saint-Germain but dismissed its credibility when coming from fans and journalists watching from a "sofa".

PSG were out of sorts in the Champions League on Tuesday, as last season's beaten finalists scraped a narrow 1-0 win at RB Leipzig.

The decisive goal, an 11th-minute Neymar penalty, was one of just three shots on target mustered by PSG over the course of the match.

Tuchel said after the game that he would not apologise for winning in a somewhat ugly fashion, with Leipzig enjoying 63 per cent of possession and managing 15 shots in total.

He put the underwhelming performance down to fatigue caused by the team's packed schedule, though it was not their only unimpressive display in recent months.

Before Tuesday, PSG had lost three of their previous seven matches across all competitions and Tuchel has had to contend with questions about his future, but the German was keen to remind fans and reporters that they do not see everything he sees.

"If it [criticism] hits the locker room, it'll tighten us up," he told reporters ahead of Saturday's visit of Bordeaux.

"For me it is very clear. I can understand the criticisms, but we have different positions. The critics are supporters, journalists... But I'm not [watching] on TV, or on my sofa.

"I'm with my team, I live every pass, every sprint with my team and you have a completely different feeling after a match like that than in front of a TV.

"I can accept the criticism, but you can also accept that we have another feeling. I had the feeling that the journalists wanted to convince me of their opinions, but I did not have the same opinion because I am a small part of this group."

Saturday's game is quickly followed by a vital Champions League trip to Manchester United on Wednesday, with PSG still fighting to qualify for the last 16.

PSG confirmed on Friday that defender Marquinhos will miss the Bordeaux game as a precaution following an adductor "twinge" – he has not been ruled out of the trip to Old Trafford, however.

Mauro Icardi and Marco Verratti are likely to get the chance to increase their involvement ahead of that journey as well, with the Argentinian striker missing since early October due to a knee ligament injury, while the Italy international (thigh) returned from a month-long layoff to make a cameo against Leipzig.

"[Verratti] can change everything on the pitch. In 12 or 14 minutes he showed an extraordinary impact [against Leipzig]," Tuchel said.

"We decided in the morning that he would be on the bench because he only did half a workout. Now he can play maybe a half against Bordeaux and that gives us a lot of possibilities and confidence on the pitch."

Regarding Icardi, he added: "We decided yesterday on the field if he could make strikes. We took the risk, he trained and there was no reaction.

"We'll see what he can do in training. If he can [train], we can put him on the bench and give him a few minutes, because he has been training hard for many weeks and it's hard for a player like Mauro, who lives to win."

Fabian Ruiz continues to attract interest from his native Spain.

The former Real Betis midfielder joined Napoli in 2018 and he has starred for the Italian club.

Real Madrid are reportedly keen to bring Fabian back to Spain.

 

TOP STORY – FABIAN TOPS MADRID'S LIST

Real Madrid have renewed their interest in Napoli star Fabian Ruiz, according to Calciomercato.

Fabian, who is contracted to Serie A outfit Napoli until 2023, has been linked with Madrid, LaLiga rivals Barcelona and Manchester City previously.

The Spain international continues to impress Zinedine Zidane's Madrid.

 

ROUND-UP

Manchester United remain hopeful of signing Borussia Dortmund forward Erling Haaland, claims The Athletic. United tried to sign Haaland before the Norwegian opted to join Dortmund from Salzburg in January. Haaland's €75million (£68m) release clause becomes active in 2022 and United are prepared to wait amid reported interest from the likes of Madrid and Juventus.

- The Athletic also says United are still trying to prise Jadon Sancho from Dortmund after failing to land the England star during the previous transfer window. Sancho has also been linked to Liverpool, Paris Saint-Germain, Madrid and Barcelona.

- AS reports Milan are weighing up a January move for PSG striker Mauro Icardi. The former Inter captain completed a permanent transfer from the Nerazzurri at the start of the season.

- With doubts over Thomas Tuchel's future in Paris, Le10 Sport says the PSG head coach has received approaches from several Premier League clubs. Tuchel is out of contract at the end of the season and sporting director Leonardo is reportedly looking to move on from the German.

Neymar has not been included in the Paris Saint-Germain squad for Friday's Ligue 1 clash with Nimes.

Head coach Thomas Tuchel is said to be keen to rest the forward, who played in both of Brazil's World Cup qualifying matches during the international break.

The 28-year-old scored a hat-trick in the 4-2 victory over Peru on Wednesday to reach 63 goals for his country, moving ahead of former striker Ronaldo and behind only Pele (77) on the all-time list.

With PSG now preparing for seven games in the next 22 days, including a Champions League trip to Manchester United next Tuesday, Neymar has been given more time to recover.

Tuchel otherwise has a handful of injury concerns to some key first-team players.

Defender Marquinhos returned from Brazil duty with a minor adductor problem and will face further tests over the coming days, while Marco Verratti sustained a thigh injury with Italy.

Julian Draxler is not expected to train again until Monday due to a hamstring complaint, while Mauro Icardi remains sidelined with a knee ligament issue.

New signing Danilo Pereira has been isolating from the team as part of contact tracing protocols adopted by PSG.

All four players will miss the game against Nimes, who have gone three games unbeaten in Ligue 1.

Jese Rodriguez, who came off the bench in the 1-0 loss to Lens last month, has been included in the squad.

Moise Kean could make his first appearance since joining on loan from Everton, while Rafinha may also make his debut after his move from Barcelona.

Paris Saint-Germain head coach Thomas Tuchel criticised his players for easing off the pace in the second half of their 2-0 victory against Reims on Sunday.

Mauro Icardi scored his first two goals since February for PSG at the Stade Auguste-Delaune as the Ligue 1 champions made it three victories in succession without conceding.

PSG started with Kylian Mbappe and Neymar together for the first time this season, while Angel Di Maria and Icardi were also named in an attacking line-up.

Despite the comfortable nature of the victory, Tuchel was not overly pleased with his side's performance against a Reims side without a win this term.

"I liked it in the first half, but I don't understand why we missed a lot of chances," he told Telefoot. "After 20 or 30 minutes we should be three or four up. 

"But I am not happy with the second half that we did. It wasn't serious. There was not the same aggressiveness and the same intensity

"The plan was to put Neymar close to Mbappe. We chose an offensive structure. We tried something and I have a lot of confidence in my team. 

"We had a lot of chances and had 70 per cent of the ball. If we put three or four chances away after 30 minutes, we have a different analysis. 

"So we can see that we missed a lot. The efficiency was not there. You can't play a game like that. In the second half, we weren't serious."

Match-winner Icardi struggled towards the end of last season and did not feature in PSG's Champions League semi-final win over RB Leipzig nor the defeat to Bayern Munich in the final.

And he is relieved to have got off the mark in 2020-21 against Reims, the ex-Inter forward scoring from two of his three attempts on target and creating a joint-high four chances.

"It was important for me to score these goals," he said. I'm happy to score. "I was relaxed during my non-scoring period as I was helping the team defensively. Now we must continue. 

"I'm happy to create chances for my team-mates. We could have put in more to kill the game faster, but satisfaction prevails anyway."

Asked if PSG need another forward before the transfer window closes, Icardi said: "This is a question for the directors. The players are here to play."

Mauro Icardi scored a goal in each half to earn Paris Saint-Germain a straightforward 2-0 Ligue 1 win over Reims at the Stade Auguste-Delaune on Sunday.

PSG started their latest title defence with back-to-back defeats but have now won three games in a row without conceding.

Icardi put the champions in front against out-of-form Reims with a clinical finish past Predrag Rajkovic inside nine minutes and added a second with a little over an hour played. 

Thomas Tuchel's side had further opportunities to extend their lead but in the end two goals were enough against a Reims side still without a win this term.

Kylian Mbappe was denied by Rajkovic after six minutes but he played a big part in PSG's opener by slipping the ball through for Icardi to control and fire into the far corner.

The visitors, beaten in their last two meetings with Reims, nearly added a second through Angel Di Maria's drive and Icardi's saved header in the space of two minutes.

Neymar also went close to doubling his side's tally with a mazy run that ended with the superstar forward firing a shot past the far post from inside the six-yard box.

Those wasted chances did not come back to haunt Tuchel's men, though, as Icardi converted Mbappe's squared pass to round off a fine team move with 62 minutes gone.

Mbappe should have added some gloss to the scoreline late on but was guilty of a horror miss, somehow firing wide with plenty of the unguarded goal to aim for, while substitute Pablo Sarabia also blazed over an effort from inside the box.


What does it mean? Three and easy for PSG

It is now three wins in a row for PSG without conceding, moving them up to seventh in the table and within four points of early pacesetters Rennes.

The champions may only have managed two goals from 16 attempts, but the victory is all that counts and Tuchel will be hoping to maintain this momentum.


Icardi leads from the front

Former Inter frontman Icardi spearheaded an attacking PSG line-up that also included Neymar, Mbappe, Di Maria and Julian Draxler.

He scored both goals to get off the mark for the season and also created four chances for his team-mates in an impressive all-round display.


Mbappe misses a sitter

The victory was never in doubt for dominant PSG, but they should have won by an even more convincing margin.Mbappe was teed up by Sarabia but contrived to miss from close range, although the France international did lay on both assists for Icardi and - that miss aside - can be pleased with his performance.


What's next?

Reims head to league leaders Rennes for their next outing in a week's time, while PSG host Angers on Friday.

Paris Saint-Germain will be without three suspended players, including Neymar, against Metz on Wednesday, but will have Marquinhos and Mauro Icardi available.

Brazil defender Marquinhos and former Inter striker Icardi were among seven PSG players to test positive for coronavirus earlier in September.

The list also included Neymar, Keylor Navas, Leandro Paredes, Angel Di Maria and Kylian Mbappe.

Mbappe, Marquinhos and Icardi were the only ones not given the green light to feature against Marseille on Sunday, though the remaining quartet could not help Thomas Tuchel's side avoid a 1-0 defeat and their second loss of the Ligue 1 season in an ill-tempered Classique.

Neymar was shown a red card in a stoppage-time fracas - later claiming he was racially abused by Marseille's Alvaro, allegations that the defender denied - with Paredes and Layvin Kurzawa also receiving their marching orders.

While Neymar, Paredes and Kurzawa will be missing on Wednesday, Tuchel has been handed a boost with the return of both Marquinhos and Icardi, with only Mbappe still in quarantine.

Marco Verratti and new signing Alessandro Florenzi both started against Marseille, though the Italy duo have not been included in Tuchel's 21-man squad to face Metz.

Goalkeeper Navas did not make the bench on Sunday, though could be set to replace Sergio Rico, who has signed permanently from Sevilla following a successful loan spell.

Thomas Tuchel backed Mauro Icardi to deliver for Paris Saint-Germain in their Champions League quarter-final against Atalanta.

Icardi failed to score in the Coupe de France and Coupe de la Ligue finals as PSG returned to competitive action last month.

The 27-year-old has netted 20 goals in 33 games in 2019-20, and will need to step up amid doubts over Kylian Mbappe, who is dealing with an ankle injury.

PSG coach Tuchel said Icardi would play an important role in Lisbon on Wednesday.

"Mauro is very important, especially with Kylian's injury and Edi Cavani absent," he told a news conference.

"It will be very important that he play a great game, showing his personality, showing that he can fight in important games. He is never scared, he can always score.

"We can rely on him tactically and defensively. His integration was great with the group, which was not very complicated as we have plenty of South American players, but he really fits in this locker room.

"It's now time for him to put us into the semis."

Manchester United, Liverpool, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich… take your pick.

Kai Havertz is not short of options following his stunning form for Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga.

As clubs queue up to sign Havertz, a Premier League giant is reportedly leading the race.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UTD FAVOURITES FOR HAVERTZ

Manchester United are favourites to sign in-demand Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz, according to The Sun.

Havertz has been linked to the likes of Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid after his exploits for Bundesliga outfit Leverkusen.

United are ready to swoop for Havertz, as well as Borussia Dortmund sensation Jadon Sancho.

 

ROUND-UP

- Le10Sport says Paul Pogba is open to swapping United for Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain. Linked to former club Juventus and LaLiga giants Madrid, PSG have emerged as a possible destination for the disgruntled Frenchman.

Manchester City are determined to sign Juve centre-back Leonardo Bonucci, but Calciomercato claims the Serie A holders are unwilling to sell the key defender.

- Mundo Deportivo reports Barcelona are positive about signing Lautaro Martinez from Inter following Mauro Icardi's move to PSG. Inter recouped at least €50million after Icardi's loan deal at PSG became permanent. While Barca are aware it will be difficult to prise Martinez to Camp Nou, the LaLiga champions view Icardi's transfer positively.

Chelsea are leading the race to sign Barca outcast Philippe Coutinho, according to the Daily Express. Coutinho has spent the 2019-20 season on loan at Bayern but the German giants opted not to exercise their transfer option. Now, Chelsea are prepared to bring the former Liverpool star back to the Premier League on loan. Tottenham have also been linked.

- Juve's Douglas Costa is wanted by Atletico Madrid. That is according to Calciomercato, which claims Atletico want to bring in the Brazilian attacker in exchange for either Thomas Partey or Stefan Savic. Douglas Costa has been linked to United, while Arsenal are eyeing Partey.

Milan will meet with potential new head coach Ralf Rangnick, claims Gianluca Di Marzio. The Rossoneri continue to be linked to Rangnick while Stefano Pioli remains in charge.

- La Repubblica claims Juve have entered the race for Hellas Verona defender Marash Kumbulla. The 20-year-old has been linked to the likes of Napoli, Lazio, Fiorentina, United, Tottenham, Chelsea, PSG and RB Leipzig.

Mauro Icardi has completed a permanent move to Paris Saint-Germain from Inter after the Ligue 1 club triggered their purchase option.

Icardi moved to PSG on loan last year after his relationship with the Inter hierarchy became strained, and a return to San Siro rarely looked likely.

The first half of the 2019-20 season proved particularly productive for the 27-year-old, who had little difficulty dislodging Edinson Cavani in the starting XI and forming a formidable attack with Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

Although his form dipped at the start of January, he still finished the shortened Ligue 1 campaign with 12 goals in 20 appearances.

Inter sporting director Piero Ausilio recently confirmed PSG's option on Icardi was due to expire on May 31, and the French champions have made their move just in time, with the forward signing a deal which runs until June 2024.

Reports claim PSG will pay an initial €50million, but the deal could eventually reach €57m.

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