Paris Saint-Germain restored their five-point lead at the top of Ligue 1 ahead of the World Cup break with a routine 5-0 win over Auxerre at the Parc des Princes on Sunday.

Kylian Mbappe opened the scoring early on following some good build-up play from Lionel Messi, who returned from injury to join the France forward and Neymar in attack. 

A seventh win in a row for PSG in all competitions never looked in doubt when Carlos Soler added a second goal and then assisted Achraf Hakimi for the home side's third.

Christophe Galtier made full use of his squad depth and substitutes Renato Sanches and Hugo Ekitike added gloss to the scoreline with a couple of late goals.

The serene nature of the contest ensured Galtier could replace a number of PSG's Qatar-bound stars, with no players sustaining an injury problem of any sort.

Messi sent a delightful lofted ball over the Auxerre defence for Nuno Mendes to deliver a first-time pass towards Mbappe, who in turn helped it over the line with 11 minutes gone.

The goal stood following a VAR check for a possible handball against Neymar, but Auxerre nearly levelled as M'Baye Niang forced Gianluigi Donnarumma into a fine save.

PSG toiled before Mendes took the ball past a couple of players and picked out Soler to glance a header away from Benoit Costil and in off the far post early in the second half.

Soler turned provider six minutes later when playing in Hakimi to coolly slot past Costil from a one-on-one position.

Messi hit the post but could not get his name on the scoresheet, though Sanches fired in off the post before fellow substitute Ekitike profited from some poor defending to coolly add a fifth.

Achraf Hakimi has described Sergio Ramos as the "best defender in the world" after the latter was left out of the Spain squad for the 2022 World Cup.

Spain head coach Luis Enrique announced his 26-man selection for the upcoming tournament in Qatar on Friday, with Ramos a notable absentee after being a part of the provisional 55-man list.

The former Real Madrid centre-back has 180 caps for Spain, and was a part of the team that won the 2010 World Cup, as well as the 2008 and 2012 European Championships.

After an injury-troubled debut season at Paris Saint-Germain following his move from the Santiago Bernabeu in 2021, Ramos has made 19 appearances this campaign already, and recently became the first PSG player to remain undefeated in his first 30 games for the club in all competitions.

However, following the news that the 36-year-old will not be heading to Qatar, his club team-mate Hakimi – who will be representing Morocco at the tournament – posted on Twitter: "Sergio Ramos. Best defend[er] in the world", with an applause emoji.

Ramos was previously left out of the Spain squad for Euro 2020 after an injury-hit final season in Madrid, with his most recent international cap coming against Kosovo in March 2021 in qualifying for Qatar 2022.

Other high-profile names left out of the squad included Manchester United's David De Gea, Athletic Bilbao defender Inigo Martinez and Thiago Alcantara of Liverpool.

At his squad announcement press conference on Friday, Luis Enrique explained: "I have a rule not to talk about absences. This happens to all coaches.

"I will not judge those who are not on the list. I thank all those who played. The most important are the 26 who are there. The absentees, I prefer not to comment. I leave it to you."

Lionel Messi's decision-making at Paris Saint-Germain is "not a problem" for his team-mates, says Achraf Hakimi, after the Argentine helped seal victory over Brest.

Messi was on hand to assist Neymar's finish for the lone goal of the game, as Christophe Galtier's side edged to a 1-0 win to return to the summit of Ligue 1.

Having made the move from Barcelona last year, Messi frequently struggled to live up his billing during his first campaign at the Parc des Princes, but has looked back to his best this term, tallying three league goals and seven assists.

In a game decided by closer margins than anticipated, it was his vision to set up the in-form Neymar that trumped a PSG blank elsewhere, with Hakimi happy to defer to the forward's expertise.

"When I make the call and Leo does not give it, it is because he has seen that there is another player to whom he can pass," he stated.

"This is not a problem. That's how today he made the pass to Neymar and we took the three points."

Messi's rich club form will be even more of a boon to the Argentina international squad, particularly given his outstanding performances for them did not dip during his first year at PSG.

With the Qatar 2022 World Cup looming, the attacker will want to maintain his level for what is likely to be his final shot at claiming the biggest team prize available in the sport, and the glaring omission in his trophy cabinet.

Kylian Mbappe equalled the record for the fastest goal in Ligue 1 history as he struck just eight seconds as part of a hat-trick in Paris Saint-Germain's emphatic 7-1 win over Lille on Sunday.

The 23-year-old superbly lifted over Leo Jardim almost immediately from kick-off, with Ligue 1 announcing it matched Michel Rio's eight-second strike for Caen against Cannes in 1992.

That set the stage for an utterly dominant performance from the champions as Lionel Messi, Achraf Hakimi and Neymar all added goals before half-time.

Neymar and Jonathan Bamba exchanged goals shortly after the interval before Mbappe added two more in the final 24 minutes to cap a memorable display.

PSG started in some style as Mbappe latched onto Messi's ball over the top and lobbed Jardim inside 10 seconds.  

Mbappe hit the side netting after rounding Jardim midway through the first half, yet Messi doubled the visitors' advantage with a cool finish from 12 yards after a clever one-two with Nuno Mendes.

Hakimi then added a third six minutes before half-time with a composed finish having been played in by Neymar, who got in on the act four minutes later with a clinical strike after Messi's deflected pass fell kindly for him.

Neymar grabbed his second seven minutes into the second half following a wonderful dummy from Mbappe, before Bamba pulled one back for Lille with a close-range finish after Gianluigi Donnarumma had saved his initial effort. 

Mbappe and Neymar combined again superbly to make it 6-1 as the former lashed home. They were at it once more three minutes from full-time when Mbappe ran onto Neymar's pass to thump past a helpless Jardim and cap an emphatic victory.

Georginio Wijnaldum has revealed former Liverpool team-mate Mohamed Salah was among those who advised him to join Jose Mourinho's Roma.

Having left Liverpool for Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer last year, Wijnaldum headed to Roma on a season-long loan deal last week.

Wijnaldum lifted the Champions League and Premier League trophies during a successful five-year spell at Anfield, but his impact was limited during a frustrating 2021-22 campaign in the French capital.

While the Netherlands international made 38 appearances in all competitions for PSG last season, fellow midfielders Danilo Pereira (2,623), Marco Verratti (2,621) and Idrissa Gueye (2,043) all played more than his total of 1,992 minutes for the Ligue 1 winners.

After becoming the latest arrival of a busy transfer window at the Stadio Olimpico, Wijnaldum said former Giallorossi winger Salah, alongside Kevin Strootman and PSG wing-back Achraf Hakimi, encouraged him to move to Italy.  

"First of all, I wanted to come because of the effort the club put in to sign me as a player," Wijnaldum told a news conference on Tuesday. 

"Also, I spoke with Mo Salah and Kevin Strootman about Roma, about the club and the city, and I only heard good stories about it. 

"I even spoke with Achraf Hakimi about it, even though he played at Inter Milan, he said [Roma] was a beautiful club and a beautiful place and I would be happy here. So that convinced me a lot.

"I know the club, we played them twice when I was at Liverpool [in the Champions League in 2018], and the atmosphere at the Olimpico was amazing – so I knew that I would be playing for a club with a great atmosphere and beautiful supporters.

"But that was basically the only thing I knew, so I asked for some advice from Mo and Strootman and they had good stories." 

Wijnaldum has joined the likes of Nemanja Matic and Paulo Dybala in signing for Roma ahead of the new Serie A campaign, and added the influence of Mourinho was another factor in his decision to head to Italy.

"When I arrived, we spoke more about football things. I think his record as a manager speaks for itself," the midfielder said of the former Chelsea and Real Madrid boss.

"The things he did in football, the prizes he won and the clubs he managed, it's unbelievable. 

"I think every player wants to work with him and I am the same. From the moment I spoke to him, I told myself I really wanted to join the club – but that was the case even before.

"I think the thing that convinced me the most was the amount of effort the club, through Mr [director of football, Tiago] Pinto and the manager, put in to sign me. At that moment I felt really wanted and appreciated by the club and that helped me make the decision."

Paris Saint-Germain's Achraf Hakimi hailed team-mate Kylian Mbappe as "one of the best in the world" and hopes the forward will stay at the club.

However, the Morocco international said he will support Mbappe in whatever decision he makes at the end of the season, with the striker's contract set to expire in June.

Across all competitions, Mbappe has recorded 31 goals and 18 assists – both club-highs – in 39 appearances this season as PSG close on the Ligue 1 title.

The club suffered a disappointing Champions League exit to Real Madrid last month, however, furthering speculation that Mbappe could swap Paris for Los Blancos when his deal expires.

Hakimi is desperate to see Mbappe extend his five-year stay in the French capital.

"Mbappe is one of the best in the world and he is my friend," Hakimi told Telefoot. 

"I want him to stay here, he knows. He will decide what he thinks is best for his career, and I will support him."

Holding a 12-point lead at the top of Ligue 1, PSG can take a huge step towards claiming an eighth league title in 10 years when they face second-placed Marseille in Sunday's Classique, and Hakimi highlighted the importance of winning that clash to appease the club's disgruntled fans.

Indeed, despite PSG's last 11 Ligue 1 goals being scored by the brilliant attacking trio of Mbappe, Lionel Messi, and Neymar, the latter duo have faced jeers from their own supporters since the Parisians' 3-2 aggregate defeat to Madrid.

"I know there is a particular expectation and a lot of rivalry [between PSG and Marseille]," Hakimi added. "I experienced it the first time at the Velodrome [a 0-0 draw in October]. It is a game that can decide the fate of the championship. 

"Our fans deserve this victory and this tenth league title [in the club's history]. We have had a very bad few weeks. 

"It's hard when your fans don't support you. Winning against Marseille is the best we can do to keep them cheering us on until the end of the season."

Over a month has passed since the team's Champions League collapse at the Santiago Bernabeu, where a Karim Benzema hat-trick eliminated PSG after Mbappe had netted once in either leg, but Hakimi says he still cannot explain their European exit.

"It is difficult to realise that we are out of the Champions League," he added. "We had the mechanisms to get ahead. The truth is that I cannot explain it. Even today, when I think about it, I don't understand it. I understand that the fans are sad, so are we. 

"At this level, small details make the difference, we have to correct them next year. That's what will make us champions."

PSG enter Sunday's crucial clash with Marseille having lost just one of their last 19 Ligue 1 meetings with their rivals, recording 14 wins during that run and keeping clean sheets in five of the previous seven.

Paris Saint-Germain right-back Achraf Hakimi believes Real Madrid "did not want to bet" on him before he left the Santiago Bernabeu for Inter in 2020.

The Morocco international moved to San Siro on a permanent deal having spent two years on loan at Borussia Dortmund for a fee in the region of €40million, before another big-money switch to PSG a year later for around €68m.

Hakimi will face his old club in the Champions League on Tuesday when Madrid visit Parc des Princes for the first leg of their round-of-16 tie, and he insists that despite only making nine LaLiga appearances for Los Blancos, he has no ill feelings towards them.

Speaking in an interview with Marca ahead of the game in Paris, Hakimi said: "It is a nice game to play and as you know it is a team I have in my heart for everything they have given me. They made me as a person and as a player, and they made me learn. We are going to prepare very well for the match."

When asked why he left the Spanish giants, he replied: "It is true that when you join Madrid for the first time you come from playing for the Castilla and it is normal that the club does not bet on you so much because you are a young player. 

"But then when I left for Dortmund, I went on loan and had two great seasons and I had to come back and decide. And then Madrid, I think, were still not betting on me, although I was able to keep playing at a high level. 

"And then when I left for Inter after being transferred there was also a purchase option for Madrid and they didn't execute it either, so I think Madrid didn't want to bet as much on me as other clubs. And I'm happy because I think these clubs were not wrong to bet on me."

The 23-year-old has had six goal involvements (three goals and three assists) in 27 appearances in all competitions this season for Mauricio Pochettino's side, and says he has settled well in Paris.

"The truth is that I feel very comfortable, as though at home. The people have received me very well, the club, the fans... Even before I came, I could already feel the affection, the club bet on me and made great efforts.

"The coach too, we had quite a few conversations and he gave me his confidence. The players have also received me very well and tell me to always be calm and enjoy myself. That's why I also feel good with them, and I give my best."

Hakimi was also pleased to be reunited with another former Madrid player, Sergio Ramos, who joined PSG on a free transfer at the end of last season.

Ramos – who won multiple trophies in the Spanish capital, including five LaLiga titles and four Champions Leagues – has only played five games for PSG due to injuries and suspension since arriving in France, but Hakimi believes he will be an important player at the club.

"We had [been together] at Real Madrid and he treated me very well despite being young and coming from the academy. We have a very good friendship," Hakimi said.

"The truth is that he surprised me that he left Real Madrid, but I'm happy to have him with us... I know he's going to make us grow a lot because he's a leader and an experienced player. He is going to be good for PSG."

The Africa Cup of Nations is heating up in the quarter-final stage, with Sunday's encounters two of the more fascinating of the round on paper.

After edging past the Ivory Coast in the round of 16 on penalties, Egypt take on Morocco where two stars of world football, Mohamed Salah and Achraf Hakimi, go head-to-head.

Senegal will play Equatorial Guinea for just the second time at the AFCON, with the latter winning the previous such game 2-1 in the group stages in 2012.

Stats Perform takes a look at both games as we get closer to the business end of this year's tournament.

 

Egypt v Morocco (15:00 GMT)

This will be the seventh AFCON encounter between these teams, with Morocco winning three of the previous six (D1 L2), although Egypt won the most recent encounter in the 2017 quarter-finals.

The Pharaohs have won each of their past four quarter-final matches at the AFCON, having progressed in just one of their previous five.

Morocco have won six of their past eight matches in this competition (D2), scoring in every game in this run, although they are looking to reach the semi-finals of the competition for the first time since finishing runners-up to Tunisia in 2004.

There have been a number of tight games at this year's tournament and that may be the case again here. Egypt have only conceded seven goals in their 20 games at the AFCON since 2010 (W14 D3 L3), keeping 14 clean sheets.

Morocco's Romain Saiss has accumulated an expected goals (xG) tally of 1.99 from his five attempts in the competition, the highest xG of any player who is yet to score this year.

One to watch: Achraf Hakimi (Morocco)

The Paris Saint-Germain right-back had been having a relatively quiet AFCON up until the knockout stages, only to put in a top-quality performance to help his nation topple Malawi in the round of 16.

His excellent free-kick in the 2-1 win was just one of his five attempts at goal, four of which were on target. Hakimi had only taken three shots in total in his three group stage appearances. His partnership with Imran Louza – who made five key passes against Malawi, more than anyone else – on the right could be vital, with Salah likely occupying their team-mates on the other side.

 

Senegal v Equatorial Guinea (19:00 GMT)

It was a horrible sight to see Sadio Mane crash to the floor after a head collision with Cape Verde goalkeeper Vozinha in their round-of-16 tie, despite picking himself up to score the winner moments later.

Whether the Liverpool man is fit to play remains to be seen, but it could be crucial as he has scored 44 per cent of Senegal's goals (seven of 16, excluding own goals) at the AFCON since 2017, while none of his team-mates have scored more than once in this time.

Senegal have progressed from three of their past five quarter-final matches at the AFCON, while they are looking to reach the semi-finals in consecutive tournaments for the first time.

Equatorial Guinea have lost just one of their most recent five AFCON games (W2 D2), keeping four clean sheets and conceding just once.

Since the start of the 2017 tournament, Senegal have won more games (nine) and kept more clean sheets (12) than any other team.

One to watch: Saul Coco (Equatorial Guinea)

The Las Palmas defender was a rock at the back for his country in the round-of-16 clash with Mali, making seven clearances, more than twice as many as any of his team-mates, as well as three blocks. He also scored his penalty in the shoot-out and may need that calm temperament when facing Senegal's pacey attack.

He is also part of an Equatorial Guinea defence that has conceded just once in the tournament, despite facing an overall xG of 4.2.

 

Morocco booked their place in the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals as Achraf Hakimi's stunning free-kick sealed a 2-1 win over Malawi.

The Paris Saint-Germain full-back struck 20 minutes from time at Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo after Youssef En-Nesyri cancelled out Gabadinho Mhango's magnificent early effort.

After scraping through Group B in third place, Malawi were making their first appearance in the AFCON knockout stages.

The Flames took a surprise lead in the seventh minute, Mhango catching Yassine Bounou off his line with a wonderful 40-yard lob.

Morocco had only lost one of their previous 11 games when facing an opponent in the competition for the first time.

Vahid Halilhodzic's side equalised in first-half stoppage time as En-Nesyri headed home from Selim Amallah's deep cross.

The contest looked possibly set for extra time until Hakimi emphatically beat Charles Thomu from 30 yards to send his nation through to the last eight, where they will face Ivory Coast or Egypt.

Serial trophy winner Medhi Benatia announced his retirement on Thursday as Juventus and Bayern Munich stars past and present hailed the powerhouse defender.

The 34-year-old former Morocco captain played a part in five consecutive league championship wins, firstly when landing two Bundesliga titles at Bayern in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons.

He joined Juventus from the German giants and featured in each of the next three campaigns as the Turin giants mopped up successive Scudetto triumphs, also leading his country at the 2018 World Cup.

Benatia was born in France and began his career in the Marseille youth set-up. He shot to prominence after a move from Clermont to Udinese in 2010, which paved the way for a switch to Roma in 2013, and one year later he was prised away by Bayern amid a scramble by elite clubs for his services.

After a double-winning second season, Benatia moved on to Juventus in 2016, before leaving the Bianconeri to sign for Qatari outfit Al-Duhail midway through the 2018-19 season.

While at Juventus, he was part of the squad that reached the 2016-17 Champions League final and also won the Coppa Italia twice. Most recently he has been with Turkish Super Lig side Fatih Karagumruk, who said Benatia had retired because of injury.

Responding to Benatia's announcement, which he revealed on Instagram, Juventus striker Paulo Dybala sent a heart emoji to his former team-mate. Ex-Bayern winger Franck Ribery did likewise, with current Juve full-back Juan Cuadrado and former favourite Sami Khedira also among those that sent greetings.

Blaise Matuidi, the former Juventus and France midfield general, wrote: "What a career, my brother. I remember those days at [French national football centre] Clairefontaine where we began to dream of being a professional footballer, but by dint of work you did much more than that. Incredible clubs, captain of a nation and having won a good number of titles, you can only be proud brother."

Manchester United defender Eric Bailly joined in the praise, writing: "Bravo capitano. Great man, great career, very good player and finally an example."

Paris Saint-Germain full-back Achraf Hakimi praised his former national team skipper, with the message: "Capitanooo. Good luck in your new stage big bro."

Announcing his decision to retire, Benatia said: "From a young age I had only one dream, to become a professional footballer. To get there, I had to force myself to work hard, make sacrifices, but above all set new goals at each stage of my career.

"This job has also allowed me to defend and represent my country, Morocco, with whom I have experienced unforgettable moments... in particular the 2018 World Cup."

Achraf Hakimi was sent off for Paris Saint-Germain as the Ligue 1 leaders played out a 0-0 draw with Marseille in Le Classique on Sunday.

Mauricio Pochettino's side, who started with the heralded trio of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, largely struggled to break down their stubborn hosts, even before Hakimi's dismissal in the 57th minute for a foul on Cengiz Under.

Valentin Rongier and Konrad De la Fuente wasted glorious opportunities to find a winner in the closing stages as PSG ultimately held on to take a point back to the capital.

The result means PSG are seven points clear at the Ligue 1 summit, while Marseille are 10 points behind in fourth, although Jorge Sampaoli's side have a game in hand.

PSG thought they had taken a 14th-minute lead when Luan Peres diverted Neymar's mis-hit shot into his own net, but a VAR review showed the Brazilian was in an offside position.

Marseille had an effort of their own ruled out seven minutes later, Pol Lirola straying into an offside position before Arkadiusz Milik found the back of the net.

Moments after Pau Lopez tipped a Lionel Messi header onto the crossbar referee Benoit Bastien stopped play for a few minutes after projectiles were thrown at Neymar as he tried to take a corner.

PSG's hopes of claiming all three points were dealt a blow in the 56th minute when Hakimi was shown a straight red card for bringing down Under outside the penalty area as he bore down on goal.

An unmarked Rongier inexplicably headed wide in the 65th minute, while Konrad fluffed his lines when the ball fell kindly to him at the back post as the game petered out for an uninspiring draw. 

Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino hailed Achraf Hakimi after his brace preserved the Ligue 1 giants' perfect start to the season on Wednesday.

Hakimi scored a last-gasp winner as Lionel Messi-less PSG maintained their 100 per cent record in a dramatic 2-1 victory at Metz midweek.

PSG full-back Hakimi had opened the scoring in the fifth minute, only for Pochettino's men to be pegged back by Kiki Kouyate's 39th-minute header.

Without superstar Messi due to a knee injury, PSG looked to have run out of ideas, but Dylan Bronn's dismissal for a second yellow card set up a thrilling finish.

Metz head coach Frederic Antonetti was sent off for his protestations and moments later Hakimi scored a 95th-minute winner as PSG made it seven victories from seven league fixtures.

"I am indeed happy with him, he's a great guy, he's a player who's really bringing a lot to us, not just the goals, but also his capacity on the sideline to play both defensively and offensively," Pochettino said during his post-match news conference.

"I am very happy with him, and today, scoring goals, it's been an important reward for the team and for him."

Hakimi – an off-season signing from Serie A champions Inter – has been involved in 13 league goals in 2021 (six goals and seven assists), no defender has done better in the top five European competitions.

This was Hakimi's second brace in the top five European leagues after December 2020, with Inter against Bologna.

Pochettino added: "Can I tell an anecdote on Hakimi? Yesterday [Tuesday], after the training, I asked him: 'How are you?' And he said: 'Very well, very well'. And then he replied: 'And you coach? How are you?'

"I was surprised by the question. 'Because no one ever asks you!'. 'You ask everyone, but no one ever asks you'. And look, today he scored goals. That's the reward for having good intentions."

Pochettino also praised PSG star Neymar, who set up Hakimi's stoppage-time winner away to Metz.

Neymar has been involved in 16 goals in his last 16 starts in Ligue 1 (10 goals and six assists).

"I am very happy with Ney and with his contribution to the team," Pochettino added. "For his attitude and mindset. I am very happy. What I believe is that creative players, players who the whole world hopes they show magic with every touch, those players spend extra energy that other players don't have.

"Therefore it would be unfair to have a player like Ney play every three days hoping that every ball he touches he makes the play of the year. I am very happy with Ney and I think today he did a massive job, like last Sunday. Playing every three day, especially for a players who's got to create constantly, is not easy. Because of that, I am very happy with his performance. Very happy of it."

PSG have won their first seven Ligue 1 games in 2021-22. Only four teams have managed such a performance at this stage previously in the top flight – Lille in 1936-37, Lille in 1949-50, Monaco in 1960-61 and PSG in 2018-19.

Paris Saint-Germain capped a busy transfer window with the loan signing of highly rated left-back Nuno Mendes from Portuguese champions Sporting CP, with Pablo Sarabia moving in the other direction.

Mendes joins PSG on a season-long loan, while the Ligue 1 giants have the option to buy the Portugal international at the end of the season.

The 19-year-old had previously been linked with the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool, but he has made the move to PSG alongside fellow recruits Lionel Messi, Sergio Ramos, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Achraf Hakimi and Georginio Wijnaldum.

A product of Sporting's famed youth academy, Mendes played a key role as the club ended their 19-year title drought last season.

The teenager amassed a total of 47 appearances across all competitions, scoring once and tallying three assists for Sporting, who also won the Taca da Liga in 2020-21.

Last season, Mendes ranked fourth in the league in expected assists (3.44), third in duels won (186) and second in dribbles attempted (88).

Mendes made two Primeira Liga appearances this term, leaving an unbeaten Sporting side second in the standings and two points adrift of rivals Benfica through four rounds.

He joins a PSG team that standing two points clear at the top of Ligue 1 with four wins out of four and craving a first Champions League triumph.

Spain midfielder Sarabia will spend the remainder of the season on loan with Sporting.

The 29-year-old has scored 22 goals and provided 12 assists for PSG since his move from Sevilla in 2019.

Denzel Dumfries is relishing the chance to impress at Inter after the right-back joined the Serie A champions from PSV.

Inter confirmed the signing of Dumfries shortly after revealing striker Edin Dzeko had completed his switch from domestic rivals Roma.

Dumfries, who was impressive for the Netherlands at Euro 2020, scoring twice during the tournament, is believed to have been purchased for a fee of €12.5million plus add ons.

The 25-year-old has signed a four-year deal with the Nerazzurri.

Dumfries appears set to be the like-for-like replacement for Achraf Hakimi, who was sold to Paris Saint-Germain earlier in the transfer window.

Hakimi's sale was required as Inter looked to ease financial difficulties. The club have also seen star striker Romelu Lukaku depart to Chelsea for a reported £97.5m (€115m).

"The feeling is amazing," Dumfries told Inter TV. "I'm very happy to join the champions of Italy. It's a big opportunity for me and I'm happy to be here.

"I'm a wide defender and I like to attack a lot. I think I'll fit in at Inter as they play with five at the back, as I have done with the Netherlands.

"I know which Dutch players have played here before. It's an honour to join them on the list.

"I hope we can have a great season, maybe win another league title and do well in the Champions League. I can't wait to get started."

Dumfries excelled for Frank de Boer's Netherlands team at Euro 2020, despite the Oranje's disappointing exit to the Czech Republic in the round of 16.

Playing as a wing-back, Dumfries started all four of his country's matches, playing 315 minutes in total.

Inter look set to continue with a back three under new boss Simone Inzaghi, who used a similar system at Lazio, meaning Dumfries will likely slot straight into the role that Hakimi occupied last term.

Dumfries has big shoes to fill, though. Hakimi played in 37 league matches in 2020-21, with only Lautaro Martinez (38) featuring more in the top flight under Antonio Conte during the campaign.

Hakimi scored seven times, a total only bettered in Inter's ranks by Martinez (17) and Lukaku (24), while he also provided eight assists.

His crossing was a particular threat, registering an accuracy of 25.52 per cent from 145 crosses from open play. Based on Euro 2020, this is something that Dumfries will need to improve, given none of his six crosses were classed as successful.

However, his presence in the area was often enough to help the Netherlands break down defences, and only Memphis Depay (24) had more touches in the opposition box than Dumfries.

Dumfries also contested (58) and won (28) more duels than any other Dutch player at Euro 2020, recording a success rate of 48.28 per cent, a figure that is not dissimilar to Hakimi's rate of 50.05 per cent from 333 duels in Serie A last season.

Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino insisted his players were not distracted by Lionel Messi rumours ahead of Saturday's hard-fought 2-1 win over Troyes.

PSG commenced their Ligue 1 campaign with the come-from-behind victory after goals from new signing Achraf Hakimi and Mauro Icardi.

The Parisians have been heavily linked with Lionel Messi in recent days after Barcelona confirmed his departure but Pochettino insisted that had no impact on his team's display.

"No, I don't think so, the players and the team have been focused," Pochettino said at the post-game news conference. "They are professionals.

"His name is associated with different clubs, there are plenty of rumours, but the players have remained committed, they will be until the end of the transfer window.

"We will see what happens in the next few days."

Pochettino admitted it was a "difficult" game for PSG, who are aiming to re-claim the Ligue 1 title after missing out to Lille last season.

“It was a very difficult meeting, we did not start well," the Argentine said. "We conceded an early goal, we have to do a lot better. We conceded too many chances for my liking.

"There were good and not-so-good periods in the game but overall I'm happy. It was very important to get the three points and start the season in this way.

"We have to give credit to Troyes who made the game difficult for us. I hoped for better, but the opponent showed energy.

"We are still at the beginning of the season, still in the process of breaking in. We still hope to win 5-0, but we take this victory as it is."

PSG return to action on Saturday against Strasbourg.

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