Mauricio Pochettino urged people not to mistake France Football for Paris Saint-Germain amid continued talk of Lionel Messi moving to the Parc des Princes.

Messi, who attempted to force a switch from Barcelona prior to this season, is due to be out of contract at Camp Nou at the end of the campaign.

He has been frequently linked with PSG and the latest edition of France Football magazine ratcheted up the speculation, as the cover of the magazine featured Messi mocked up wearing a PSG shirt.

That will do little to improve the mood in the Barcelona camp, with head coach Ronald Koeman having previously accused PSG midfielder Angel Di Maria of disrespect.

Koeman's comments followed Messi's Argentina team-mate Di Maria saying there is a "big chance" the six-time Ballon d'Or winner will join PSG.

Pochettino was again asked about Messi prior to PSG's Coupe de France tie at Caen, which takes place on Wednesday.

The PSG head coach told a pre-match media conference: "I think we are talking about a magazine that has nothing to do with Paris Saint-Germain.

"When a player speaks, he might speak with emotion and affection, but there is no type of controversial situation here that we have thought up at the club.

"At no point has there been a lack of perspective. At no point has anything happened that is incorrect.

"I understand that players can talk and say whatever they like and that goes for Barcelona, Real Madrid. They might talk about fellow footballers at other clubs.

"Here we have total respect for every club and every player. We must not confuse what was said in France Football with PSG itself."

Ander Herrera does not believe it is possible for Paris Saint-Germain to add Lionel Messi to an all-star attack that already includes Neymar and Kylian Mbappe due to Financial Fair Play reasons.

Six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi is out of contract with Barcelona at the end of the season and has been strongly linked with French champions PSG and Premier League leaders Manchester City.

PSG already have superstar forwards Neymar and Mbappe on their books, with the Ligue 1 giants in talks over extending both players' lucrative contracts beyond the end of the 2021-22 season.

However, as rumours persist over a possible end-of-season switch to the Parc des Princes for Messi, who saw details of his five-year contract made public last week, Herrera has cast doubt over whether a move is feasible for his side.

"Messi, Neymar and Mbappe together? I don't know how that would work with Financial Fair Play, but I don't think so," he told El Larguero. 

Former Manchester United midfielder Herrera was unwilling to discuss the transfer rumours in any further detail, though, out of respect for Barcelona.

"I'm not going to get into this one," he said. "When everyone at Barca was talking about Neymar, inside and outside the club, we did not like it.

"I'm not going to do something that I don't like being done to me. I have a lot of respect for Barca, Messi, his coach and his team-mates.

"It is not a strategy. Me, I will not speak about him. I respect those who do it, but I put myself in the shoes of the club in which Messi has evolved."

Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman last week accused PSG of being "disrespectful" for continuing to discuss Messi in public after Angel Di Maria encouraged talk of a high-profile transfer going through.

Herrera added: "If I were I at Barca, I would not like people talking about Messi. It does not seem to me to be a lack of respect, but I will not do it."

Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain are still eyeing Barcelona star Lionel Messi.

Unsurprisingly, Messi's future remains a talking point with his contract with the LaLiga giants expiring at the end of the season.

And the two clubs most strongly linked with the six-time Ballon d'Or winner remain interested.

 

TOP STORY – PSG, MAN CITY STILL EYEING MESSI

Paris Saint-Germain are quietly continuing their push to sign Barcelona star Lionel   Messi , according to France Football.

The Ligue 1 giants have angered Barca boss Ronald Koeman as those connected with PSG have regularly discussed Messi.

ESPN says Manchester City are also still tracking Messi, but will wait until March or April before making more of a move.

ROUND-UP

- Out of contract at Real Madrid in 2022, Raphael Varane 's future is unclear. Marca reports the LaLiga giants suspect the defender will not renew and they could sell him for €50million at the end of this season as a result, with PSG and Manchester United interested.

- Madrid are favourites to land Bayern Munich star David Alaba . The Telegraph reports Alaba's wage demands, believed to be around £20m per year, are too high for Chelsea . Alaba is set to leave the Bundesliga giants when his contract expires at the end of the season.

- United 's sights may be elsewhere. The Independent claims RB Leipzig defender Ibrahima Konate is their main centre-back target ahead of 2021-22. Konate has also been linked to Liverpool and Chelsea .

- Arsenal want a young left-back to learn from Kieran Tierney, according to The Athletic.

Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Marco Verratti said he is excited about the prospect of playing alongside Lionel Messi at the Ligue 1 champions.

Barcelona superstar Messi is out of contract at season's end and the six-time Ballon d'Or winner has been heavily linked with PSG and Premier League giants Manchester City.

As Messi's future dominates headlines, PSG star Verratti discussed his possible arrival in Paris.

"Of course, I would like to play with Messi," Italy international Verratti told Canal+.

"To have him in the squad would be something magnificent, one more thing that football would give to me.

"I would give the ball to Neymar and Messi and stay behind to just [enjoy] watching them a bit."

PSG and Barcelona will meet in the Champions League last 16, with the first leg taking place at Camp Nou on February 16.

It will be a reunion for former Barca star Neymar, who has scored six goals in 11 Ligue 1 matches this season.

Neymar - who left Barca in a world-record €222million deal in 2017 - has scored 13 goals across all competitions.

"We are not stupid, we know that he is the best player and our role is to put him in the best possible condition," Verratti said. 

"He knows that when I have the ball, I'm looking for him. He always makes movements to receive the ball well."

Mauricio Pochettino's PSG are third in Ligue 1 after 24 rounds, three points adrift of leaders Lille following Sunday's 2-0 Classique victory against Marseille.

PSG face Caen in the Coupe de France on Wednesday before welcoming Nice to the French capital in Ligue 1 action on Saturday.

Neymar climbed off his sick bed to help Paris Saint-Germain see out a 2-0 win at Marseille in the 100th Classique on Sunday.

Superstar forward Neymar was sent off in the reverse fixture and started from the bench after missing training this week with gastroenteritis, while Angel Di Maria departed early through injury at the Stade Velodrome, but Marseille could not capitalise.

First-half goals from Kylian Mbappe and Mauro Icardi instead secured a commanding position against Ligue 1's crisis club, whose troubles are best illustrated by coach Andre Villas-Boas' suspension after offering his resignation.

It meant Neymar could be introduced with little risk of a repeat of the home defeat early in the season and the world's most expensive footballer duly provided a spark that pegged OM back – their frustration evident as Dimitri Payet was sent off – to secure victory and keep PSG within three points of leaders Lille.

Neymar's absence was not felt in a trademark PSG counter-attack after nine minutes when Mbappe skipped beyond Hiroki Sakai's desperate lunge and slid a cool finish under Steve Mandanda.

Di Maria appeared to hurt himself in finding Mbappe and was promptly replaced, although Neymar remained among the substitutes and some slack play at the back ensured a fizzing Pape Gueye drive had to be tipped over.

PSG were ruthless at the other end and Icardi's cute header earned a helpful touch from Alvaro Gonzalez as it looped over the static Mandanda, who might have conceded a third time before the break as Leandro Paredes thundered in an effort that kissed the outside of the post.

Marseille were better after the break and Boubacar Kamara's shot squirmed away from Sergio Rico and wide, but further chances were few and far between.

Neymar was belatedly introduced 25 minutes from time and should have immediately won a penalty, with Alvaro granted a fortunate escape following his clumsy challenge inside the area.

Marseille spent the remaining minutes on the back foot as Neymar found his groove, missing only a finish as he sought the third, before Payet's high boot on Marco Verratti was punished with a late red card.

 

What does it mean? No drama and PSG stay in the hunt

There were five red cards – three for PSG – when the sides met at the Parc des Princes in September in a game that contributed to the chaos of the champions' season to date, going some way to explain their underwhelming league position.

Although there was bite in Sunday's encounter, too, as the two teams shared 24 fouls and Payet was dismissed, the early Mbappe goal made sure there was no unnecessary drama this time, keeping the pressure on Lille and Lyon.

Mauro makes his mark

Only three times in the league this season have PSG started with Neymar, Mbappe, Di Maria and Icardi all in the XI as Thomas Tuchel and Mauricio Pochettino have each struggled to fit the attacking quartet into the same line-up – while also dealing with illness, injuries and suspensions.

Icardi has been restricted to just seven starts, but he showed here what he is all about. Along with a fifth goal of the campaign from his only attempt, the striker used his physicality at both ends of the field, winning his four aerial duels and making three clearances before making way for Neymar.

Alvaro out of his depth

The subject of some scrutiny following a clash with Neymar in Paris, Alvaro was at the centre of the action again in the return fixture and did not fare well.

The centre-back struggled to contain Icardi and got a touch as the second goal deceived Mandanda, before he somehow avoided a penalty for tripping Neymar, then hobbled off having succeeded in only a single duel and failed to make a tackle.

What's next?

PSG's title tilt goes on hold this week as they go to Caen on Wednesday in the Coupe de France, the same competition in which Marseille will visit Auxerre hours earlier.

Will he leave Paris Saint-Germain or not?

That is the question regarding French star Kylian Mbappe.

Real Madrid are keen, but they are reportedly prepared to wait.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID WAITING FOR MBAPPE

Real Madrid have decided to wait to sign Kylian Mbappe until Paris Saint-Germain put the French star up for sale, according to Marca.

LaLiga champions Madrid have been tipped to sign Mbappe, who has also been linked with Premier League holders Liverpool.

PSG are trying to re-sign Mbappe as his contract runs out in 2022, and if they are unsuccessful amid their pursuit of Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi, Madrid are ready to pounce.

 

ROUND-UP

- Marca says Sergio Ramos' knee injury could spell the end of his illustrious career with Madrid. Ramos is out of contract at season's end and the star captain has been linked to the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City, PSG, Chelsea and Juventus.

Liverpool are interested in Leeds United winger Raphinha, reports Football Insider. The Brazilian only moved to Elland Road at the start of the season.

- Gazzetta dello Sport claims Juventus are hoping to sign Roma sensation Nicolo Zaniolo.

Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar is a doubt for Sunday's Ligue 1 match with Marseille after missing training through illness.

The Brazil international sat out Saturday's session due to gastroenteritis and his condition will be assessed later, PSG said in a statement.

Teenage defender Timothee Pembele will be unavailable after returning a positive coronavirus test, with the 18-year-old now self-isolating.

The champions will also be without Keylor Navas and Ander Herrera for Sunday's Classique, with neither player fully fit.

Colin Dagba (thigh) and Juan Bernat (knee) are still out, while Abdou Diallo remains sidelined due to coronavirus protocols after testing positive a week ago.

PSG, who are three points behind league leaders Lille after 23 games, are still favourites for Sunday's game against struggling Marseille.

OM suspended coach Andre Villas-Boas this week after he offered his resignation in protest against the club's "sporting direction", with Olivier Ntcham signed from Celtic without his consent.

Marseille, who are ninth, have won just once in their previous 10 matches in all competitions and lost 2-1 to PSG in the Trophee des Champions match on January 13.

This will be the 100th competitive meeting between the teams, with PSG leading the head-to-head record with 44 wins to 33, 18 of which have come since Qatar Sports Investment took over at Parc des Princes in 2011.

However, Marseille won the reverse game this season 1-0 in September and the potential loss of Neymar could be key, the 29-year-old having scored 11 goals in his previous nine games in all competitions.

Barcelona captain Lionel Messi will retire wherever he wants amid doubts over his future, according to former team-mate Luis Suarez.

Messi is out of contract at the end of the current campaign and the record six-time Ballon d'Or winner appears likely to leave on a free transfer amid strong links to Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain and Premier League giants Manchester City.

The 33-year-old attacker had tried to exit Camp Nou prior to the start of 2020-21 before opting to remain with the embattled LaLiga powerhouse.

Suarez won four LaLiga titles and the Champions League among other honours during his time together with Messi before joining Atletico Madrid in the off-season and he hailed the superstar.

"This afternoon I spoke with him, he was very happy about yesterday's victory [over Granada]," Suarez told El Transistor.

"He is [playing] at a spectacular level, he is the best in the world.

"Messi will retire wherever he wants, he can decide whether it's at Barcelona, in Argentina or wherever."

Suarez has starred since leaving Barca after six years at Camp Nou, spearheading Atletico's title charge this season.

The 34-year-old has scored a LaLiga-high 14 goals to help Diego Simeone's Atletico sit 10 points clear atop the table, ahead of second-placed Barca with a game in hand.

Suarez averages the fewest minutes per goal (one goal every 85 minutes) among players to have scored at least two goals this season.

The Uruguay international reflected on his Barca exit following Ronald Koeman's arrival, adding: "When Barcelona told me that they did not count on me it was hard, I did not expect it.

"They were very difficult moments because of the manner [in which it happened]. Koeman called me and told me that I was not in his plans.

"When Barcelona made it official that they did not count on me, conversations began with Atleti, with Cholo [Simeone], with Miguel Angel...

"There was interest from many clubs, not just Juventus. I wanted to make the right decision, the best for me and my family."

Mauricio Pochettino said Paris Saint-Germain should be left to work on signings "in silence" amid Barcelona's anger over Lionel Messi.

Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman hit out at PSG on Wednesday, saying the Ligue 1 giants had been "disrespectful" by regularly discussing Messi.

Angel Di Maria became the latest person connected to PSG to discuss Messi, with coach Pochettino, sporting director Leonardo and Neymar having also spoken about the Argentina star in recent months.

Pochettino would not be drawn into discussing Di Maria's comments about Messi, who is out of contract at the end of the season.

"I am not going to talk about what our player's comment, as you know, because my words can be misunderstood, and then these words can go to another country in another way," he told a news conference after a 3-0 win over Nimes.

"I have to be focused on trying to improve this team, from now to the end of the season, to try to achieve our goals, knowing that it is not going to be easy because we are in a difficult competition, in a weird situation, with the pandemic that it is affecting all of us, and also football.

"And then, the Champions League and Coupe de France, we will try to compete and go as far as we can, try to win, because in Paris, is all about to win.

"But I don't want to give names, don't want to think on the future. I'm sure that the club is working in different situations to improve. So let's leave the club working in silence, in secret, in order to have a better team and with more possibilities to win."

Di Maria opened the scoring in PSG's win over Nimes before goals from Pablo Sarabia and Kylian Mbappe.

Pochettino praised the performance of Di Maria, who is also out of contract at the end of the season.

"I'm happy with [Di Maria's] performance and compromise within the team," he said.

"I think that as every player, he needs time but Angel is a very important player for the team. He's been at this club for many years. So I'm happy for his goal and his performance."

Ronald Koeman hit out at Paris Saint-Germain, accusing the Ligue 1 giants of being "disrespectful" for continuing to talk about Barcelona star Lionel Messi.

Messi, 33, has been heavily linked with a move to PSG when his contract expires at the end of the season.

Angel Di Maria became the latest person connected to PSG to discuss Messi, with coach Mauricio Pochettino, sporting director Leonardo and Neymar having also spoken about the Argentina star in recent months.

After opening the scoring in Wednesday's 3-0 win over Nimes, Di Maria – who is also out of contract at season's end – talked up a potential PSG move for his compatriot.

"I hope to renew with PSG. Play with Messi? Yes, hopefully, I think there are many possibilities," he said.

"I have to be calm, think about my own thing and continue in Paris because I am very happy here."

Barcelona coach Koeman is growing tired of the Ligue 1 giants speaking about his star.

After a stunning comeback to get past Granada in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals, Koeman hit out at PSG, who face Barca in the Champions League last 16 beginning this month.

"It is disrespectful that so many people from PSG talk about Messi. They are spicing up the [Champions League] game," he said.

"He is still a Barca player."

Paris Saint-Germain returned to winning ways in Ligue 1 with a 3-0 victory over bottom side Nimes at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday. 

The champions suffered a shock 3-2 loss to lowly Lorient on Sunday - their first defeat under Mauricio Pochettino - but responded with a comfortable victory on home soil. 

Star man Angel Di Maria profited from a terrible Lamine Fomba error to open the scoring and then crossed for Pablo Sarabia to add a second before half-time. 

Kylian Mbappe scored a stunning third goal for PSG, who were without the suspended Neymar, but they remain third in the table as leaders Lille and second-place Lyon also triumphed.

Moise Kean clipped the outside of the post with a header from 10 yards but PSG were ahead seven minutes later through Di Maria's composed finish. 

Nimes midfielder Fomba played the ball straight to Di Maria's feet and the Argentina international fired away from Baptiste Reynet after teeing himself up. 

The home side nearly had a second soon after when Presnel Kimpembe headed a corner back across goal and Thilo Kehrer turned it against the underside of the crossbar. 

But Sarabia did manage to double his team's tally nine minutes before the interval, heading Di Maria's right-sided cross into the bottom-right corner from five yards. 

Fomba was denied by Sergio Rico as he tried to make amends for his earlier error, while Anthony Briancon and Renaud Ripart also had attempts saved by the stand-in PSG keeper. 

Nimes continued to ask questions of their opponents but the game was put out of their reach by Mbappe, who curled a shot past a stranded Reynet to seal the win. 

Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar has reportedly decided to stay with the Ligue 1 giants.

Neymar's contract is due to expire in 2022 and the forward has repeatedly been linked with a return to Barcelona.

But the Brazil international seems set to remain at PSG.

 

TOP STORY – NEYMAR AGREES TO FOUR-YEAR EXTENSION WITH PSG

Neymar has agreed to a four-year extension with PSG, according to TNT Sports Brasil correspondent Marcelo Bechler.

The deal will keep Neymar, who arrived at PSG from Barcelona in 2017, tied to the Parc des Princes until 2026.

Neymar has won nine domestic trophies, including three Ligue 1 titles, since arriving in Paris.

 

ROUND-UP

- Also out of contract next year is Neymar's star PSG team-mate Kylian Mbappe. TNT Sports Brasil reports selling the forward, who has been linked to Real Madrid previously, would give the Ligue 1 giants the chance to sign Barcelona star Lionel Messi or Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos, or both.

- Real Madrid could also be set for other business. AS reports LaLiga's champions are prepared to sell Vinicius Junior in the next transfer window, with the 20-year-old having netted just three times in 25 appearances in all competitions this term.

- Arkadiusz Milik joined Marseille on loan from Napoli in January, but Juventus are still considering a move for the forward, according to CalcioMercato.

- Dele Alli was reportedly wanted by PSG in January, but the midfielder ended up staying at Tottenham. The Telegraph reports Spurs chairman Daniel Levy blocked Alli's move due to the club's injuries and run of poor form.

- A free agent, Daniel Sturridge's future remains unclear. The Daily Mail reports the forward is wanted by MLS clubs.

Achraf Hakimi only moved to Inter from Real Madrid at the start of the 2020-21 season.

But the future of the Morocco international is already making headlines.

Will Hakimi still be an Inter player at the end of the campaign?

 

TOP STORY – HAKIMI WANTED IN ENGLAND

Manchester City are interested in signing Inter star Achraf Hakimi, according to Calciomercato.

Hakimi has established himself as a key player for Antonio Conte's Inter after arriving from Real Madrid.

But Inter – in the spotlight amid reported financial difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic – are facing a battle to keep Hakimi, with Chelsea and Arsenal also chasing the Morocco international.

 

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato says Napoli want to bring back former head coach Maurizio Sarri. Gennaro Gattuso is under pressure and Sky Sport Italia claims the two parties will part in June. Sarri left Napoli for Chelsea in 2018. Former boss Rafael Benitez has also been linked.

Lionel Messi could help bitter rivals Madrid. According to El Chiringuito, Messi's proposed switch from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain could aid Madrid in their quest to prise Kylian Mbappe to the Santiago Bernabeu. Mbappe has also been linked to Liverpool.

- Fabrizio Romano says Liverpool, City, Chelsea, Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus are interested in Erling Haaland, but Borussia Dortmund have no intention of losing both the Norwegian and Manchester United target Jadon Sancho at the end of the season.

Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe said Neymar is the centre of the club's project as he hailed the Brazilian star.

Neymar joined PSG from Barcelona in a world-record € 222million deal in 2017, but he has been repeatedly linked with a return to his former club or LaLiga champions Real Madrid.

The PSG forward pledged to remain in Paris alongside Mbappe prior to Sunday's shock 3-2 Ligue 1 defeat to Lorient.

Mbappe – who is also out of contract in 2022 – has similarly been tipped to leave PSG for Madrid amid doubts over his future but talked up his relationship with superstar team-mate Neymar.

"I've always thought that great players were made to play together - and that's clear between us two," Mbappe told France Football.

"Our roles were established when I arrived in Paris: Neymar is the centre of the project and I'm here to help him.

"[This is] because when I arrived at PSG, I was only an emerging star and I had to prove myself on the pitch."

Mbappe has scored 106 goals and set up a further 54 in 148 appearances for PSG.

Since his debut for the club on September 8, 2017, the only players in the top five European leagues to have registered more goal involvements are Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski (186) and Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi (206).

Neymar, meanwhile, became the first PSG player since Zlatan Ibrahimovic in 2015 to convert two penalties in the same game as the French giants fell to Lorient on Sunday.

It was only the second time in Neymar's career he has converted more than one penalty in the same game in the top five European leagues, having achieved the feat with Barca in October 2015.

"Neymar knows how to do everything," Mbappe added. "He's the best in the world.

"When he arrived in Paris, we realised everything he could do. He's not a player simply for putting on a show and dancing when you're winning 5-0. He also knows how to do spectacular things at 0-0.

"I don't know if everyone is aware, but Neymar understands everything. He has an instinct that makes him know how to do everything straight away."

Mauricio Pochettino is convinced star forwards Neymar and Kylian Mbappe will still be at Paris Saint-Germain next season. 

Brazil superstar Neymar joined after being bought out of his Barcelona contract for €222million in 2017, making it the most expensive transfer in football history.

He has been repeatedly linked with a return to Spain, either at Barcelona or Real Madrid, but the prospects of such a move now appear remote as those clubs battle with the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

Madrid have also been linked with a move for World Cup-winning attacker Mbappe, whose contract with PSG is due to expire at the end of next season.

Neymar's deal runs out at the same time but Pochettino, who took over from Thomas Tuchel last month, believes PSG are doing everything in their power to ensure the pair will be lining up for the French champions at the start of the 2021-22 campaign. 

"I believe that both will stay, and will stay a long time at PSG," he told RMC Sport. "And I have no doubts, I am very optimistic. The club is working to succeed in keeping them with us."

Asked if he knew this for certain or whether it was just a feeling, the former Tottenham boss responded: "It's a feeling, but it's also what I see. Neymar and Kylian are happy. They are having fun here and I also believe the club is working to keep them."

Mbappe has scored 106 goals and set up a further 54 in 148 appearances for PSG. Since his debut for the club on September 8, 2017, the only players in the top five European Leagues to have registered more goal involvements are Robert Lewandowski (186) and Lionel Messi (206).

Pochettino was full of praise for the France international, who he says has the football intelligence of someone much older than 22. 

"The other day I was talking to one of his team-mates about him and we were like: 'Who doesn't love Kylian? His smile, his energy' 

"He's young, a world champion at 19. With the talent he has, it's normal to be in love with Kylian. Everyone around him loves him. 

"He's only 22 but he's a very mature boy. He looks like a 35-year-old trained man already. He's very mature and very intelligent, very intuitive, and he understands that there are periods in football, ups and downs. 

"You have to be positive and you have to keep working to change those difficult times. But we have no doubts. Obviously we are talking with Kylian, but we are talking also to all other players."

PSG will hope to bounce back from Sunday's embarrassing 3-2 defeat to Lorient when they host Nimes on Wednesday.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.