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.

 

Despite the coronavirus situation, Real Madrid are still looking to make a splash in the transfer market.

Madrid have long been linked with Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe.

And if reports are to be believed, the LaLiga champions are planning for the Frenchman.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID WORKING ON MBAPPE MOVE

Real Madrid are working on a plan to sign Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe, according to Tuesday's frontpage of Diario AS.

Mbappe – also linked to Liverpool – has been tipped to join Madrid, though Ligue 1 holders PSG remain committed to trying to re-sign the Frenchman.

Despite the economic fallout caused by coronavirus, Madrid are still looking to prise Mbappe to the Santiago Bernabeu thanks to player sales and revenue generated by the return of fans.

 

ROUND-UP

Bayern Munich have identified RB Leipzig star and centre-back Dayot Upamecano as the player to replace David Alaba, reports Sport 1. Alaba is out of contract at season's end and the Bayern star has been linked to the likes of Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea and Manchester City. With Alaba heading for an exit, in-demand Upamecano is wanted in Munich. It comes as Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool and Barca vie for his signature.

- According to Esporte Interativo, Neymar wants to stay at PSG as the French giants prepare a new contract. Neymar has been linked with a return to Barca.

- Fabrizio Romano says an agreement has been reached between United and Bayer Leverkusen for Timothy Fosu-Mensah to join the Bundesliga side.

Milan are eyeing a move for Chelsea's Fikayo Tomori, reports Sky Sports. Strasbourg defender Mohamed Simakan remains the primary target for the Rossoneri. It comes as Fiorentina close in on Milan full-back Andrea Conti.

Neymar resumed Paris Saint-Germain training on Monday in a boost to their preparations for a Trophee des Champions clash with Marseille.

The Brazil star has not yet featured under Mauricio Pochettino, having sustained an ankle injury in December.

According to Le Parisien, the former Barcelona forward is "50-50" to face Marseille in Wednesday's game in Lens.

Neymar has only managed seven Ligue 1 appearances this season, scoring three times and providing three assists.

His most telling performances have been in the Champions League, where six goals in five games helped PSG to win a tough Group H ahead of RB Leipzig and Manchester United.

Leandro Paredes, Danilo Pereira and Presnel Kimpembe, who suffered a hamstring injury last month, also returned to training in Monday's session.

Pochettino, who took over following Thomas Tuchel's sacking in December, is bidding to win his first trophy as a coach this week.

He recorded his first win as PSG boss on Saturday, when Moise Kean, Mauro Icardi and Pablo Sarabia scored in a 3-0 Ligue 1 victory over Brest.

Where will Erling Haaland be playing in 2021-22?

The Borussia Dortmund forward has a long list of admirers, particularly in England.

Both Manchester clubs want Haaland, though City fancy their chances.

 

TOP STORY – CITY BELIEVE THEY HOLD HAALAND EDGE OVER UTD

Manchester City are hoping to use their Jadon Sancho sell-on clause to beat neighbours Manchester United to the signing of Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland, according to The Sun.

Haaland is a player in demand, linked to the likes of City, United, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus and Liverpool following his exploits for Dortmund.

City have a 15 per cent sell-on clause following Sancho's move to Dortmund in 2017 and they believe it could help in their Haaland pursuit, with the Premier League giants open to waiving or renegotiating the clause.

Sancho was tipped to join United ahead of the 2020-21 season.

 

ROUND-UP

- French journalist Julien Laurens doubts Paris Saint-Germain will be able to afford Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi. The six-time Ballon d'Or winner has been linked to PSG, City and Inter but Laurens feels the Ligue 1 champions will not be able to financially accommodate Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

Atletico Madrid are poised to prise Moussa Dembele from Lyon, reports Fabrizio Romano. After Diego Costa's exit, Atletico are set to complete a loan deal with the option to buy.

- Le10Sport claims Manchester United are set to rival PSG for the signing of Brest midfielder Romain Faivre.

- The Telegraph says Napoli are keen on signing Arsenal full-back Kieran Tierney. The Serie A side were keen on the Scotland international before he swapped Celtic for Arsenal in 2019.

Rennes star Eduardo Camavinga admitted "it is nice when a big club is interested" amid ongoing links with LaLiga champions Real Madrid.

Camavinga has been tipped to make the move from Ligue 1 outfit Rennes to Madrid, who are long-time admirers of the France sensation.

Ligue 1 holders Paris Saint-Germain, Serie A champions Juventus and Manchester United have also been linked to the 18-year-old midfielder.

"Of course it is nice when a big club is interested in you," Camavinga told Canal as speculation mounts over his future. "[But] me, I keep a cool head.

"I am at Stade Rennais. We will wait until the end of the season.

"We will meet around the table and we will weigh the pros and cons [then]."

Camavinga made his debut for boyhood club Rennes in 2019 and he has quickly emerged as one of football's most sought-after talents.

The Frenchman has one goal and an assist in 17 league appearances this season for fifth-placed Rennes, who are seven points adrift of Ligue 1 leaders Lyon following Saturday's 2-2 draw between the clubs.

RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano's long-term future appears uncertain, though there is a strong possibility he will end up in the Premier League.

The France international centre-back has emerged as one of Europe's most-promising defenders in recent seasons and is part of a Leipzig side that has conceded just 12 goals in 15 Bundesliga games this season.

Upamecano, 22, looks certain for a big-money move eventually, and although his next destination is unclear, he has plenty of admirers in England.

TOP STORY – CHELSEA TO RIVAL MAN UNITED FOR UPAMECANO

Chelsea are going through a difficult period as they sit ninth in the Premier League, and their options at centre-back do not appear to be entirely to Frank Lampard's liking.

While 36-year-old Thiago Silva and Kurt Zouma have become his preferred pairing, Lampard seems unconvinced by back-up options Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen and Fikayo Tomori.

The Mail on Sunday reports Chelsea have joined the list of clubs lining up for Upamecano, who reportedly has a release of around €50million (£45m) in the new contract he signed last year.

But Chelsea will not expect a free run at Upamecano – the Manchester Evening News claims Manchester United retain an interest in him, with the Red Devils' centre-back options also far from impressive in 2020-21.

ROUND-UP

- Paul Pogba appears to be returning to form on the evidence of his recent displays, but how much longer will he remain at Old Trafford? The Daily Star believes Mauricio Pochettino has identified him as a key target at Paris Saint-Germain. Real Madrid and Juventus have also been linked.

- Declan Rice's future continues to be subject of speculation, with the Daily Mirror reporting he favours a return to Chelsea – whom he played for at academy level – over joining Manchester United.

- Lucas Torreira could be on the move again. Arsenal loaned the Uruguayan midfielder to Atletico Madrid at the start of the season, but he has featured only six times in LaLiga. Mundo Deportivo suggests he is being lined up by Fiorentina.

- Inter could be set to further increase their contingent of former Manchester United players. The Mirror says Jesse Lingard is the latest to be targeted by the Nerazzurri, who already have Romelu Lukaku, Alexis Sanchez, Matteo Darmian and Ashley Young on their books.

- M'Bala Nzola has been one of the revelations of the season in Serie A with promoted Spezia. Napoli are said to be keen on the striker, though CalcioMercato reports Newcastle United and West Ham are monitoring the situation as well.

Mauricio Pochettino insists there is still room for improvement from his Paris Saint-Germain side after brushing aside Brest 3-0 on Saturday.

Second-half substitutes Mauro Icardi and Pablo Sarabia added to Moise Kean's opener as the reigning Ligue 1 champions ran out comfortable winners at the Parc des Princes.

The win, coming three days on from a 1-1 draw with Saint-Etienne in Pochettino's first game in charge, moves PSG within a point of leaders Lyon, who were held 2-2 by Rennes.

But despite the comfortable manner of the scoreline, Pochettino - named as Thomas Tuchel's successor last week - accepts there are still things to work on.

"We are satisfied with the result, it is the fruit of the effort of all the players," he told Canal+.

"But there is still a lot we have to correct. We must continue to work with high standards."

Kylian Mbappe fired a blank for the third time in four outings, failing to find the net from any of his three shots on target - more than any other player on the field.

But the France forward claimed an impressive assist for Sarabia's goal by taking the ball past a couple of opponents and teeing up his team-mate.

He cut a frustrated figure at times but Pochettino is pleased with Mbappe's overall display.

"Mbappe has done good things," Pochettino said. "He had chances and it's a shame he didn't score. But he had a good game."

PSG had 60.9 per cent of the ball against Brest - compared to an average of 63.9 per cent under former boss Tuchel - and attempted 11 shots on target.

Sarabia, who netted his third league goal of the season 27 minutes after being brought off the bench, believes Pochettino's style of play is already clear to see just two games in.

"He wants us to have a lot of the ball and to knock the ball a lot to destabilise the opponent," he said.

"He asks us to do a lot of pressing, very high. It is very important to capture all the ideas of the coach to try to do the best possible. 

"There are things that are similar between Tuchel and Pochettino but there are things that are very different. We have to work because there are a lot of things that are new."

PSG now switch focus to Wednesday's Trophee des Champions clash with Marseille and a chance to win a first piece of silverware of the Pochettino tenure.

"It's a very special match for Paris and for me too," the former Tottenham boss said. 

"We hope to have a good match and to arrive in the best conditions to be competitive. And of course, like every time we play Marseille, we have to win."

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