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.

Lautaro Martinez was very close to joining Barcelona from Inter Milan two years ago.

The Blaugrana and the Argentina international had reached a personal agreement, but the financial consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic scuppered any possibility for the former to make any transfer happen.

As ever, though, circumstances in football change and according to reports, they have changed in a way that would allow Barca to finally get the Martinez deal over the line.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA IN FRAME FOR LAUTARO

Barcelona are back in the running to sign Inter's Lautaro Martinez, according to reports from Sport.

The 24-year-old is increasingly likely to leave the reigning Serie A champions, but it appears the club would be willing to lower their asking price in exchange for players as part of a package deal.

Inter have shown interest in Miralem Pjanic and Memphis Depay, two players who appear to be surplus to requirements in a rebuild under Xavi at the Catalan giants.

Martinez, who has provided 15 goals and three assists in 28 league appearances this season, is seen as a more affordable alternative to Erling Haaland and Robert Lewandowski.

 

ROUND-UP

– Liverpool are eyeing Aberdeen right-back Calvin Ramsey to provide depth for Trent Alexander-Arnold, the Sun reports.

Paris Saint-Germain are ready to part ways with Mauricio Pochettino in order to hire Zinedine Zidane as their head coach, per Le Parisien.

– Corriere dello Sport is reporting Roma would consider an offer of €60million (£49.6m) for highly-rated 22-year-old Nicolo Zaniolo, as interest from Serie A and Premier League clubs looms.

– Juventus are prepared to offer for Chelsea's Jorginho, with the Turin giants seeking to bolster their midfield next season, according to Tuttosport.

– Chelsea are willing to let 28-year-old striker Romelu Lukaku go with Inter and PSG interested, per 90Min.

Kylian Mbappe is "far above" any Marseille player, meaning Paris Saint-Germain's Classique rivals must work together to stop the "almost unstoppable" forward, Jorge Sampaoli says.

France superstar Mbappe is enjoying another outstanding season in Ligue 1, leading the way in terms of both goals (20) and assists (14).

Marseille managed to keep the 23-year-old in check in a goalless draw at the Stade Velodrome back in October, but still only Zlatan Ibrahimovic has more Classique goals (seven) than Mbappe (six) in Ligue 1.

And Marseille coach Sampaoli's previous experience of Mbappe was painful, too. He scored twice to knock Sampaoli's Argentina out of the 2018 World Cup, inspiring France's 4-3 last-16 win in Russia.

The Marseille boss knows exactly what to expect at the Parc des Princes on Sunday then.

"I had the opportunity to face him at the World Cup and here when Paris came," Sampaoli said ahead of the match.

"And each time, he makes the difference: in space, with the ball, in his finish. With the players he has around him, he is almost unstoppable.

"We must be a great collective team, because individually he is far above."

Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino has told his stars to treat Sunday's Ligue 1 Classique against Marseille as a cup final.

The league leaders host their second-placed rivals at Parc des Princes, looking to extend their 12-point gap at the summit on Jorge Sampaoli's side.

Victory would effectively confirm the league title for PSG, with just six games left to play after this weekend.

Speaking on Saturday, Pochettino stressed there are no bigger games in France, adding that he expects his side to be prepared to fight for their win.

"It's clear that it's an important and different game for both sides," the Argentinian told a pre-match news conference.

"It's the most important game in France. For us, it's a final, we have to get on the pitch and be ready."

Pochettino also addressed the combative relationship PSG have experienced with their fanbase throughout a campaign that, despite their league position, has been seen as underwhelming.

Neymar and Lionel Messi were roundly booed following the club's Champions League exit last month, in the most high profile of several incidents.

"We are stronger with the fans, they give us extra strength," Pochettino said. "We know we are stronger when they are on our side.

"I would like them to support the team during the matches and leave differences for before or after the game."

The Argentine head coach further touched on his relationship with Kylian Mbappe, amid reports suggesting the France international could snub an anticipated move to Real Madrid

"I have a good relationship with him, as with all the players," Pochettino said. "With him, the relationship was built over time.

"He is someone we have seen grow up. We are happy to see how he is developing. He let himself be trained, that's where he shows his great humility and his desire to be better every day."

Along with Brenden Aaronson and Luka Sucic, Karim Adeyemi is part of a young core enjoying a breakout season at Salzburg.

In his third season in the Austrian Bundesliga, the 20-year-old has come up with 16 goals and three assists in 24 league appearances, and earned his first international cap for Germany last September.

Reports also suggest that a return to Germany at domestic level is imminent.

 

TOP STORY – DORTMUND CLOSE IN ON ADEYEMI

Borussia Dortmund and Salzburg have reached a basic agreement over the transfer of Karim Adeyemi, according to reports from Sky Sport Germany.

After several rounds of talks, this week has finally seen a breakthrough between the two clubs, with €35million the reported fee the two clubs have agreed on.

However, Dortmund are still to arrive at a point that satisfies Adeyemi and his representatives on personal terms.

According to the report, all three parties are looking to finalise the deal, but RB Leipzig, Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain also remain interested.

ROUND-UP

Harry Kane is set to turn down a move to Manchester United, with Erik ten Hag reportedly due to take over at Old Trafford instead of Kane's former boss Mauricio Pochettino, the Mirror reports.

– United have been given a boost in their pursuit of Chelsea's Antonio Rudiger however, as talks with Barcelona have reportedly stalled, according to the Sun.

Newcastle United have targeted Sevilla's Diego Carlos as a viable alternative if Sven Botman opts to join Milan, per the Chronicle.

– Football Insider reports Villarreal are seeking to permanently sign Giovani Lo Celso from Tottenham, having had the 26-year-old on loan since January.

– Meanwhile, Football Insider also reports that Manchester City have made Monaco midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni their top priority to replace Fernandinho.

After a cardiac episode at Euro 2020, there were questions about whether Christian Eriksen would ever be able to play football again, let alone at the highest level.

But less than a year after being released from his contract at Inter, the Denmark international is a hot commodity once again.

Since signing with Brentford on a six-month deal, Eriksen has displayed the quality that saw him net 69 goals over six and a half seasons for Tottenham, and now Premier League teams are circling.

 

TOP STORY – NEWCASTLE WANT ERIKSEN AS FLAGSHIP SIGNING

Tottenham have been linked with Eriksen in a potential reunion in the upcoming transfer window, but they are reportedly going to have to contend with Newcastle United, who wish to make him a "flagship" signing, per the Northern Echo.

Being out of contract, Eriksen will have his pick of potential suitors, yet Newcastle will likely have deep enough pockets to contend with anyone serious about adding the midfielder.

Since his return from the bench against Newcastle, Brentford have won all four Premier League matches in which Eriksen has played 90 minutes, including a 4-1 away win at Chelsea, where he scored.

 

ROUND-UP

– Football Insider is reporting Mohamed Salah is close to signing an extension with Liverpool that will pay him £400,000 per week.

West Ham have entered the race for Bayer Leverkusen winger Moussa Diaby, per Calciomercato.

– 90min is reporting Edinson Cavani may be Manchester United's "secret weapon" in their quest to sign fellow Uruguay striker Darwin Nunez from Benfica in the upcoming transfer window.

Cardiff City and Tottenham are joint-favourites to land the services of Wales international Gareth Bale when his contract with Real Madrid expires in June, per Wales Online.

– According to the Chronicle, both Arsenal and Newcastle are heavily linked with Lyon midfielder Lucas Paqueta, who is expected to fetch a price of around £58million.

Sergio Ramos says he has "four or five more years" left at a high level despite struggling for game time since his move to Paris Saint-German. 

The 36-year-old has endured an injury-hit first campaign in the French capital, playing 392 minutes across his seven appearances in all competitions, just four of which were starts. 

However, the former Real Madrid defender impressed on his return to the line-up in PSG's 6-1 thrashing of Clermont last time out, as Neymar and Kylian Mbappe each netted hat-tricks and Lionel Messi claimed three assists. 

Ramos completed 99 of his 105 attempted passes – both of which were game highs – during the Ligue 1 leaders' dominant win. 

The defender now says he believes he can play at the highest level into his forties, insisting he feels back to his physical best. 

"I see myself playing four or five more years at a high level, and then [I'll have] another experience," Ramos told Amazon Prime Video in France. 

"Here in Paris, I have two more years [on my contract], I'll try to make it three, [with] one more, we'll see.  

"As long as my physique holds up, I think my head is very focused. Now, I'm very well, very happy and eager to play." 

Ramos' excellent distribution from the back contributed to PSG completing 93.6 per cent of their passes against Clermont, the highest percentage managed by any Ligue 1 team since Opta began recording such data in the 2006-07 season. 

Meanwhile, Ramos refused to say whether he preferred international football to the club game, having won an incredible 180 caps for Spain during a glittering career that has seen him win one World Cup and two European Championships. 

He never formally retired from international duty despite being left out of Luis Enrique's squad for Euro 2020 and could yet look to fight his way back into the coach's plans for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. 

"It's a difficult question to answer," Ramos added. "The feeling of your homeland and your country is always something very big. [The feeling] that your team is to whom you owe yourself, [that] you have to play well in your [club] team to be selected.  

"They are both a unique feeling, I can't keep [only] one, although with the national team you can aspire to be a world champion." 

PSG have a 12-point lead over second-placed Marseille in Ligue 1, and Mauricio Pochettino's team can take a huge step towards securing the French title when they face their nearest rivals on Sunday. 

Not a window goes by where Sergej Milinkovic-Savic's name does not emerge in transfer speculation.

The 27-year-old's contract expires at the end of the 2023-24 season, but Juventus are keen to move on the long sought-after Lazio midfielder.

The Serbia international has only progressed under Maurizio Sarri, attracting reported interest from the Turn giants.

 

TOP STORY – JUVE RAMP UP CHASE FOR MILINKOVIC-SAVIC

Milinkovic-Savic's agent Mateja Kezman has commenced talks with Juventus over a possible transfer from Lazio, according to Calciomercato.

The Serbian midfielder has long been a weak area since their appearance in the Champions League final in 2015, and multiple coaches in that period have not been conducive for personnel.

Lazio president Claudio Lotito famously placed an initial €100million value on Milinkovic-Savic, but it has reportedly dropped to €70m. It is perceived that price tag is still too steep a figure for Juventus, as a consequence of compatriot Dusan Vlahovic's signing in January.

It is believed that Lazio would be open to players in return as part of a packaged deal.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United and Arsenal have joined the race to sign Benfica striker Darwin Nunez, the Mirror reports.

- Erling Haaland has dismissed interest from Manchester United, believing they do not meet the Norwegian striker's ambitions, according to ESPN.

- Paris Saint-Germain are in talks to sign Chelsea forward Romelu Lukaku, only a year after he joined the London club from Inter, per the Sun.

- Roma are interested in signing Aston Villa midfielder Douglas Luiz, Calciomercato is reporting.

- Spanish international Marco Asensio is expected to leave Real Madrid at the end of the season, per Mundo Deportivo, with Milan and Tottenham interested.

Neymar hailed fellow hat-trick hero Kylian Mbappe and PSG assists king Lionel Messi as "geniuses" after the 6-1 win over Clermont.

The Brazilian also echoed Mbappe's verdict that it was a "shame" the superstar trio had not been able to link up more often this season.

Messi claimed three assists in the Ligue 1 leaders' rampant away victory on Saturday night, becoming the first player to claim three assists on two separate occasions in the French top flight since Opta data for the competition began in 2006-07, having previously assisted three goals against Saint-Etienne in November.

The former Barcelona captain has averaged an impressive 0.73 assists per 90 minutes on the pitch during his first season in Ligue 1, a team-high.

Meanwhile, the trebles scored by Mbappe and Neymar meant they became the first Ligue 1 team-mates to net hat-tricks in the same game since Mbappe and Edinson Cavani did so against Guingamp in January 2019. Prior to that, the last team to achieve the feat were Bordeaux against Valenciennes in August 1979.

Speaking after reaching double figures for Ligue 1 goals this season, Neymar was delighted with PSG's performance and said the relationship between the front three is improving with every match.

"I am very pleased to have scored my first hat-trick of the season," Neymar said.

"And [I'm] even happier with the win and our attitude. It's important that the chemistry between us get stronger in every match."

The win represented just the 14th occasion across all competitions when all three attackers have started together this season, leading Mbappe to say it was a "shame" PSG fans had been forced to wait until now to see them perform regularly together.

Neymar delivered a similar sentiment, while labelling his attacking partners "extraordinary".

"Unfortunately, everyone has gotten to pretty much 100 per cent only at the end of the season," Neymar said, quoted on the official Ligue 1 website.

"It's a shame, but I am very happy with everything that we are showing on the pitch. It's a lot easier to play with players who are very intelligent.

"Leo and Kylian are extraordinary, they are two geniuses."

PSG's last 11 Ligue 1 goals have been scored by Mbappe (five), Neymar (five) or Messi (one), and Mauricio Pochettino's men are closing in on the French title.

Neymar, meanwhile, has now scored against 24 of the 25 opponents he has faced in Ligue 1, the exception being Brest, and the treble was his first since January 2018, when he scored four goals against Dijon.

Jesse Lingard's future with Manchester United is unclear.

The 29-year-old England international is out of contract at the end of the season.

Lingard had a brilliant loan spell at West Ham United last season but has remained out of favour at Old Trafford this term.

 

TOP STORY – ITALIAN OPTIONS FOR LINGARD

Lingard could reunite with Jose Mourinho at Roma, with the Italian club joining the race for the forward, according to the Mirror.

Lingard is being pursued by West Ham following his impressive loan spell, while Newcastle United are also interested in the 29-year-old.

Serie A clubs Milan and Juventus also have an interest in Lingard, with a move to Italy offering a lucrative alternative option.

English pair Chris Smalling and Tammy Abraham have enjoyed productive spells at Roma, while Ainsley Maitland-Niles is on loan from Arsenal.

 

ROUND-UP

- Real Madrid are moving on from their pursuit of Kylian Mbappe , who appears set to stay with Paris Saint-Germain, by turning their attention to landing Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland, claims the Mirror.

- Inter will make a move to sign Romelu Lukaku on loan from Chelsea, following his August exit from the Italian champions, reports Football Insider. Lukaku previously expressed his regret at leaving Inter.

- The Sun claims that Arsenal and Tottenham will battle to sign Leicester City midfielder James Maddison who is rated at £60million and could be put up for sale.

- Danny Ings could be on his way out of Aston Villa as manager Steven Gerrard plans a clear-out, according to the Mirror.

- CBS Sports claims Liverpool and West Ham are no longer interested in Leicester City's Youri Tielemans, leaving the door open for Manchester United to land the midfielder.

- Juventus are circling for Chelsea midfielder Jorginho , reports Tutto Mercato.

Kylian Mbappe regretted only getting a chance to click with Neymar and Lionel Messi late in Paris Saint-Germain's season and was guarded on how it would affect his future.

Mbappe and Neymar scored hat-tricks as PSG claimed a 6-1 victory over Clermont on Saturday, sending Mauricio Pochettino's men 15 points clear at the Ligue 1 summit.

It was the first time two team-mates have scored trebles in the same top-flight game since Mbappe and Edinson Cavani did so for PSG against Guingamp in January 2019. The most recent occasion prior to that was Albert Gemmrich and Gerard Soler for Bordeaux against Valenciennes in August 1979.

Neymar and Mbappe set one another up once each, while Messi had a trio of assists to become the first player to achieve that on three occasions in a single Ligue 1 season since Opta began collecting the data in 2006-07.

However, it was only the 14th match the trio have started together in all competitions this season. Last weekend's 5-1 success at Lorient was the first time they had all found the back of the net in the same game.

It remains to be seen whether Mbappe will continue to play with Messi and Neymar next season, as his contract is due to expire at the end of the campaign and he has been heavily linked with a move to Real Madrid.

Mbappe admitted it was frustrating the trio were only getting a chance to meet expectations with the Ligue 1 title the only trophy available to them. 

"It's a shame it's only happening now. There were a lot of circumstances and events that caused us to be delayed a little," Mbappe told Canal+. 

"We feel that we are three quality players and try to help the team as much as possible. 

"We are happy. We had a lot of fun and I think we gave the fans some too. We remain on the road to the 10th title, which is not very far away." 

However, Mbappe refused to be drawn on whether his relationship with Messi and Neymar would encourage him to stay at the Parc des Princes. 

"I've already answered," he said. "Neymar and Messi have been here since July. I've seen them many times. I've already answered." 

PSG were eliminated from the Coupe de France on penalties by Nice in January and failed to get past Real Madrid in the last 16 of the Champions League. 

Mbappe added: "Life is like this. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. You always have to look ahead. 

"It's gone now. We had pain, it is still present but we must be positive, show we are a great club, a great team and we are here to win trophies." 

Kylian Mbappe and Neymar scored hat-tricks as Paris Saint-Germain brought an emphatic end to their poor away form with a resounding 6-1 victory at Clermont in Ligue 1. 

Neymar and Mbappe struck in the opening 19 minutes as PSG ended a run of four straight losses on the road in all competitions and moved 15 points clear at the summit.

Jodel Dossou pulled one back for Clermont but Neymar scored from the spot and then set up Mbappe three minutes later as Mauricio Pochettino's men showed their teeth in the closing stages.

Mbappe completed his hat-trick with 10 minutes remaining and then returned the favour for Neymar, teeing him up for his third as PSG stayed on track for the title.

The visitors took the lead in controversial circumstances, Neymar's goal being allowed to stand despite Alidu Seidu being prone in the box after having his foot stepped on by Mbappe. 

Lionel Messi controlled Neymar's pass on his chest and volleyed a throughball in behind for Mbappe to poke past Arthur Desmas, but Clermont grew into the game and halved the deficit through Dossou before half-time.

Messi had a goal disallowed for offside before Mbappe was felled by Akim Zedadka in the box and Neymar slotted home the resulting spot-kick with the utmost composure in the 71st minute 

A magnificent outside-of-the-boot throughball over the top from Neymar set Mbappe on his way to his second and the France star made it three with a powerful finish from the edge of the box.

Mbappe then raced onto a pass from Georginio Wijnaldum and squared across the face of goal for Neymar to round off the scoring with 83 minutes played.

What does it mean? PSG close in on title 

With Rennes moving level on points with Marseille in second earlier on Saturday, PSG could find themselves a point away from reclaiming their Ligue 1 crown by the end of next weekend. 

Victory over Marseille at the Parc des Princes combined with Rennes losing to Monaco would leave them 18 points clear with just six games to play. 

Magical Messi-Mbappe link-up 

His first season at PSG has not quite lived up to expectations, but Messi was at his creative best against Clermont. The Argentina captain has now combined with Mbappe for eight goals in Ligue 1 this season.

Full-backs switch off 

Achraf Hakimi was caught in possession ahead of Clermont's goal and Dossou's run to the back post was not tracked by Nuno Mendes. Neither will be pleased with their role in PSG failing to keep an away clean sheet in Ligue 1 for the first time since October. 

What's next? 

PSG have Le Classique against Marseille to look forward to next Sunday, when Clermont will hope to boost their survival hopes at 19th-placed Metz. 

Kylian Mbappe is a more complete player than Erling Haaland, according to Barcelona defender Dani Alves.

Two of the hottest properties in world football, both players are heavily linked with moves away from their respective clubs.

Paris Saint-Germain forward Mbappe, who is widely believed to be heading to Real Madrid in the close season, has scored 28 goals and assisted a further 17 in 38 appearances across all competitions this term.

Meanwhile, despite a string of injuries, Haaland has been directly involved in 29 goals (scoring 23 and assisting six) for Borussia Dortmund in 2021-22.

Barcelona are among a host of clubs reportedly interested in both forwards, with Manchester City and Real Madrid also in contention to make blockbuster moves.

 

But if the Blaugrana are to spend big on one of them, Alves believes that Mbappe should be their main priority. 

Speaking to Sport, the veteran defender said: "Mbappe is a more complete player than Haaland in all aspects of the game.

"I wouldn't do crazy things for Haaland. Honestly, I wouldn't spend a lot of money on him.

"I would spend a lot of money on Mbappe, but not on Haaland.

"If you are going to make a giant investment, you have to do it in the best way. If it depended on me, I would bet on Mbappe."

Mauricio Pochettino believes staying at Paris Saint-Germain would be the best thing for Kylian Mbappe.

The superstar striker is out of contract at the end of the season and has been strongly linked with a move to Real Madrid, but recent reports have suggested he may yet sign a new deal with his hometown club.

Mbappe has scored 28 goals in 38 games for PSG in all competitions this season, with his 45 direct goal involvements dwarfing the tallies of Messi (18) and Neymar (12).

On Sunday, Mbappe was involved in all five of PSG's goals in a 5-1 hammering of Lorient, scoring twice and providing three assists. It was the first time in his club career that he had been involved in as many goals in a single match.

Once again pressed on Mbappe's future ahead of Saturday's trip to Clermont, Pochettino told a media conference: "When Kylian is here, you can ask him and he can give you a better answer. PSG, just like me as the coach, want the best for Kylian and the club.

"We think that the best thing for this club is for Mbappe to stay, and we think it is also good for Kylian to stay here with us. Then, there are negotiations that have to serve to reach an agreement."

Pochettino also believes that Mbappe has made significant strides in his development since he took over from Thomas Tuchel in January of last year.

"Kylian is a clear example of how, when we arrived, his form wasn't as everyone expected it to be," Pochettino said.

"But thanks to his hard work and the commitment and confidence that we have generated here, particularly over the last year, he has shown what a fantastic player he is. 

"The most important thing here is his commitment and his ability to turn around difficult situations because when we arrived here it was a difficult time for him.

Pochettino will be without several players through injury for Saturday's match, and also confirmed he will rest Marquinhos after his captain's partner recently gave birth.

"[Marquinhos] has had a few niggles and so we have decided to give him a rest, especially given the week he has had with the birth of his daughter," Pochettino added.

When asked if Mbappe could take the armband in the Brazilian's absence, Pochettino replied: "I think that is possible for Mbappe and other players as well. Kylian is certainly part of the possible group."

Neymar merely needs to find his rhythm to rediscover his best form, so says Mauricio Pochettino.

Brazil star Neymar has endured another injury hit campaign for Paris Saint-Germain, with the 30-year-old having made just 22 appearances across all competitions.

That is 16 fewer than Kylian Mbappe, who has arguably outshone the former Barcelona forward since they both arrived in Paris in 2017.

Neymar served up a reminder of his qualities with two fine goals in PSG's 5-1 thrashing of Lorient last time out, though it was again Mbappe who stole the show with a pair of superb strikes and three assists, with the final star of Pochettino's attacking trio, Lionel Messi, also netting.

It was not for a lack of trying from a creative standpoint for Neymar, though, as he led the way for key passes (five) and had as many shots on target (three) as Mbappe, while his double took him to within one goal of his 200th in European football since he joined Barca from Santos in 2013.

Neymar's 12 direct goal contributions this season pales in comparison to Mbappe (45), though Pochettino is confident that his fellow South American will be able to return to his peak form sooner rather than later.

"PSG signed Neymar because of his quality, and it has been there for all to see," Pochettino told a news conference ahead of Saturday's trip to Clermont.

"He has had runs of injuries, there are ups and downs. Neymar suffered an injury soon after [I] arrived [at PSG].

 

"We have worked hard to get him back and like every attacker he needs rhythm, he needs to play to feel confident.

"I have no doubt that Neymar will keep showing his quality. He will be aiming for more."

Another of PSG's Brazil regulars to have struggled for his best form in recent weeks, albeit at the other end of the pitch, has been Marquinhos.

The centre-back has been a consistent performer during his time in the French capital yet had a horror show along with the rest of PSG's defence in the capitulation to Real Madrid in the Champions League on March 9.

Marquinhos has only made one error that led to a shot this season, yet it came against PSG and resulted in Karim Benzema scoring in that famous comeback win for Los Blancos.

He has made 33 starts this season, tallying up 2,952 minutes and helping PSG to 12 clean sheets, though he was unusually sloppy against Lorient.

With Marquinhos and his partner having welcomed a child this week, and the 27-year-old dealing with minor injury issues, Pochettino has elected to rest him.

"Everyone has been affected by the game in Madrid and getting knocked out of the Champions League," Pochettino said.

"If we analysed all of that game, we were better than Madrid but in the end it didn't go our way. Marquinhos will not be involved in the Clermont game. He’s had a few injuries and we have decided to give him a rest.

"Every player goes through different stages throughout the season, but the Marquinhos is a consistent player. He has very high standards, he is our captain and a top player.

Marquinhos' absence may mean that Sergio Ramos comes into the side.

"That is something I am thinking about now Marquinhos is unavailable," Pochettino said.

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