Marco Verratti declared Paris Saint-Germain are "left feeling p***** off" they have nothing to play for after Champions League disappointment and winning Ligue 1.

PSG cruised to a record-equalling 10th French top-flight title – only Saint-Etienne can boast as many – in April, while no player in Ligue 1 history has won as many championships as Verratti (eight).

However, Mauricio Pochettino's side remain in search of an elusive Champions League crown, having been dumped out at the last-16 stage by a remarkable Karim Benzema-inspired Real Madrid turnaround.

Kylian Mbappe scored in either leg to hand PSG a 2-0 lead, before Benzema delivered a second-half hat-trick at the Santiago Bernabeu to stun the visitors and reopen fresh Champions League wounds.

Meanwhile, since securing the title, PSG have thrown away two-goal leads in consecutive games, allowing Strasbourg and Troyes to share the spoils on both occasions.

Verratti vented his frustrations after the stalemate with Troyes as he acknowledged finding motivation is difficult with the league already in their hands.

"There is a bit of frustration. I think these are matches where you have to have fun, it's about winning and playing well as a team," the Italy international told Amazon Prime Video.

"We are in one of the quietest moments of the season because there is no pressure. We just have to have fun. When you are free in your head, you can enjoy it even more.

"I'm a little frustrated about that. We're coming to the end of the season and we always come out of games feeling p****** off. It's not the thing you dream of at the end of the season, especially when you are already champions.

"I honestly think that we could do much better with the team we have. In difficult times, we could be better. When we are good as a team, we manage to take more pleasure from those matches.

"It was a tough season. Even if we are champions, at the start of the season it was tough, we won a lot of matches late on.

"That means we have great character, because we're still there two minutes from the end to score a goal, but I think we could be better as a team.

"It's true that we changed the team a lot with several rookies. It is not an excuse, but it's the truth. It's difficult to create a big group when you change a lot. You have to take the good things of this season and try to build on it for next season."

Whether Pochettino stays in charge for the next campaign remains to be seen, with reports in France suggesting Zinedine Zidane as a potential target if he is not waiting until after the 2022 World Cup to take DIdier Deschamps' job with France.

Whoever is at the PSG helm, Verratti knows it will take another sizeable effort next year to reset and attempt to banish the Champions League demons.

"We fought hard against Madrid and did 150 minutes very well," he added.

"We won the championship, that's good and I think there's not much missing. Everyone has to give more so at the end we can say: 'OK, we have no regrets, we gave everything, they were stronger'.

"We do have this little regret. We had a dream in the Champions League. If you reach the semi-final then you can find yourself in the final having played two games well. Madrid hit us hard."

Neymar has told the Paris Saint-Germain supporters booing him that they "will need more air" if they continue as he intends to stay at the club for the next three years.

The Brazil international and his team-mates have been targeted by their own fans since crashing out of the Champions League to Real Madrid at the last-16 stage on March 9.

That continued during Saturday's 1-1 draw with Lens, despite that result confirming a 10th Ligue 1 title for PSG – only Saint-Etienne have won the competition as many times.

While frustrated by the continued jeering, Neymar – under contract until July 2025 – confirmed he is not looking to leave the Parc des Princes at the end of the campaign.

"I still have a contract with Paris Saint-Germain," he told ESPN Argentina. "I'm here for three more years, so stop [booing] or you'll need more air."

Neymar has 11 goals and seven assists for PSG across 25 appearances in all competitions this season, averaging 0.78 goal involvements every 90 minutes.

That puts him behind only Kylian Mbappe (1.3) and Lionel Messi (0.79) among PSG's regulars this campaign.

 

Marco Verratti is another who has played an important role in the Parisians' eighth Ligue 1 triumph in 10 seasons, the midfielder having been part of the squad for each of those.

The Italy international has now won the French top flight more times than any other player.

Speaking after the title-clinching result, however, Verratti admitted he was surprised by the reaction of PSG's supporters inside the Parc des Princes.

"Not celebrating is something I don't understand," he told Canal+.

"It's football; sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. We are normal people, we can have failures. But the 10th title is important." 

Rather fittingly given the underwhelming nature of Paris Saint-Germain's season, their record-equalling 10th Ligue 1 triumph was sealed with a draw at home to Lens.

So much was expected of PSG, fairly so, given their astonishing off-season recruitment, that ending 2021-22 with just one major trophy, and failing to reach the latter stages of either the Coupe de France or the Champions League, cannot be portrayed as anything but a disappointment.

One of those superstar recruits – Lionel Messi – got the goal for PSG on Saturday, though it was cancelled out by Corentin Jean late on as 10-man Lens fought back to draw 1-1.

It was just a fourth Ligue 1 goal for Messi, whose move from Barcelona has, really, not lived up to expectations, albeit the 34-year-old has provided 13 assists. The same can be said for Sergio Ramos – the former Real Madrid defender has made just five league starts in a season derailed by injury – while Gianluigi Donnarumma has had some shaky moments. Indeed, he did not play as PSG sealed the title and his 75 per cent save percentage, while impressive, does not better that of Keylor Navas (78.4).

Neymar took most of the season to get up to speed and if not for Kylian Mbappe, the title race may have been much closer. PSG might not have the France star to rely on for much longer, and doubt remains over Mauricio Pochettino's future.

Nevertheless, PSG do have a title to celebrate, one that makes them the joint-most successful team in Ligue 1 history, alongside Saint-Etienne, and an eighth of the QSI era.

Stats Perform, using Opta data, looks at the key numbers behind the success, and some records that might still be in PSG's sights.

 

Leaving it late (or later than usual)

It has always seemed like a procession to the title for PSG this season but, actually, this is the latest they have left it to get the crown secured since the 2014-15 season.

Back then, PSG were not champions until matchday 37. They got the job done on matchday 34 this time around, though that is still later than in 2018-19 (33), 2017-18 (33) and 2015-16 (30). That is not counting 2019-20, when PSG were handed the title by default due to the coronavirus pandemic.

PSG have averaged 2.29 points per game so far in 2021-22, which is their lowest total when winning the title since 2014-15 (2.18).

They are, however, the first team to be crowned French champions eight times in the space of 10 seasons (Saint-Etienne and Lyon did so on seven occasions).

PSG have collected 78 points to date. Should they win their remaining four matches, they will set the fifth-highest points total in Ligue 1 history (90).

Verratti sets Ligue 1 record

Marco Verratti starred in Italy's Euro 2020 success and the mercurial midfielder has continued that form into this season.

He has played a part in all eight of PSG's title triumphs during the QSI era, making him the first player to win Ligue 1 eight times.

Team-mate Marquinhos is joint-second on the list with seven titles to his name.

Pochettino gets his first title

This marks Pochettino's first league success as a coach, after PSG lost out to Lille last season.

The former Tottenham boss has won 39 of his 55 Ligue 1 matches in charge, with the other 16 games split equally between draws and defeats.

His win rate of 71 per cent ranks him some way behind his two predecessors, however – Thomas Tuchel (76) and Unai Emery (74).

Pochettino's PSG have scored 2.2 goals per game and collected 2.3 points per match on average, conceding 0.9 goals per game.

He is the sixth Argentine coach to win a title across Europe's big five leagues, joining Diego Simeone, Luis Carniglia, Alfredo di Stefano, Jorge Valdano and Helenio Herrera (though the latter became a French national). Carniglia, with Nice, is the only other Argentine boss to win Ligue 1.

Topping the stats

As would be expected, PSG dominate the statistics so far in Ligue 1. They have had more possession (62.9), played more passes per game (663), scored more goals per match (2.2) and had more sequences of 10+ passes (21.5 per match).

PSG have only dropped two points from winning positions all season – one of those coming on Saturday – while they have gained 21 from losing positions, more than any other team. Their 18 different goalscorers is also a league high.

Marco Verratti and Jorginho were among a group of six players to leave the Italy camp after their failure to qualify for the World Cup. 

Ciro Immobile, Lorenzo Insigne, Domenico Berardi and Gianluca Mancini also returned to their clubs ahead of schedule, with the latter two having sustained knocks. 

Italy coach Roberto Mancini is expected to ring the changes in a friendly against Turkey on Tuesday following the Azzurri's shock defeat to North Macedonia in a World Cup qualifying play-off semi-final on Thursday. 

The Euro 2020 champions' first ever home loss in World Cup qualifying meant they failed to reach successive finals for the first time in their history. 

Instead of taking on Portugal in the play-off final, Italy will depart for Konya on Monday. 

Jorginho admits his missed penalties earlier in the campaign will haunt him forever following Italy's failure to qualify for the 2022 World Cup.

The Azzurri were crowned Euro 2020 champions just eight months ago after beating England in the final on penalties.

However, Roberto Mancini's side will not be at the World Cup later this year after they were stunned 1-0 by North Macedonia in the playoff semi-finals.

Although the hosts dominated proceedings in Palermo, Aleksandar Trajkovski struck in stoppage time to give the visitors a shock victory.

Having drawn four of their last five games, Italy had to settle for a playoff place after finishing two points behind Switzerland in Group C.

Among them was a 1-1 stalemate with the Swiss, during which Jorginho missed two penalties that would have seen the Azzurri displace their opponents in top spot.

And the Chelsea midfielder revealed his sense of responsibility for his nation’s subsequent failure to qualify.

"It is difficult to explain what happened," he told RAI Sport. "It hurts so much. I'll be honest, I am still incredulous. 

"I don't think we lacked creativity, as we always dominated matches and created so many chances. Unfortunately, we were unable to finish them off.

"We played good football, we won the European Championship last summer, but unfortunately in the last few games, we made small errors and were unable to recover from them. They made the difference.

"It hurts when I think about [the missed penalties], because I do still think about it, and it will haunt me for the rest of my life.

"Stepping up there twice and not being able to help your team and your country is something that I will carry with me forever, and it weighs on me.

"People say we need to lift our heads and carry on, but it's tough."

Meanwhile, team-mate Marco Verratti acknowledged that the reigning European champions were made to pay after failing to turn their superiority into goals.

"It is difficult to understand. I think we dominated this match, and we should've won. We had to win," the Paris Saint-Germain midfielder added.

"This is football, it is fundamental to be clinical and ruthless. It's just so difficult to explain. It was a nightmare.

"Looking around the locker room, we had the players to challenge for the tournament itself, yet here we are talking about a disaster. It's so tough to go from hero to zero.

"We experienced special times together, and I will always be proud of my team-mates. 

"We have to ask ourselves questions now. There's some bad luck, but you also need to make your own luck."

Marco Verratti has come to the defence of his Paris Saint-Germain and Italy team-mate Gianluigi Donnarumma.

The goalkeeper came in for criticism following PSG's recent Champions League elimination at the hands of Real Madrid, in particular for his error that led to Karim Benzema scoring the Spanish side's first goal at the Santiago Bernabeu in an eventual 3-2 aggregate loss for the Parisians.

Donnarumma has conceded six goals in his last two club appearances, but ahead of Italy's World Cup qualifying play-off against North Macedonia, Verratti wants Azzurri fans to remember his performances during the run to winning Euro 2020.

"We need to be confident. Thursday will be an important match against a team that deserves to be here," Verratti told a news conference.

"As we did during the Euros, we have to go far with enthusiasm and desire.

"Each of us has different stories with our clubs, then here, we have to give everything. With the national team we have always managed to move forward."

It was put to the 29-year-old midfielder that players from PSG and Juventus who were knocked out of the Champions League could bring their dented confidence with them, and he was specifically asked about Donnarumma's mood.

"When you walk into Coverciano [Italy's training complex], you forget everything that happened before, the defeats with our clubs, and you remember what we did last year," Verratti retorted. "We are back to talking about the victory of the European Championship, it's different.

"He [Donnarumma] is sorry for his error against Real Madrid, but Gigio is a special guy. He was already back working the next day with the same enthusiasm.

"Let us not forget what he did for Italy during the Euros. He is one of the best goalkeepers in the world."

Donnarumma played seven games at the rescheduled tournament last year, making 10 stops at a save percentage of 71.43, conceding four goals and making key penalty saves from Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka in the final shoot-out against England to clinch the trophy at Wembley Stadium.

Italy are looking to make amends having failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, and Verratti insists they will "give everything" to get to Qatar.

"We are accustomed to playing under this kind of pressure," he said. "We know it's a very important moment and we cannot afford to be out of the World Cup, but the only thing I know is to work, give my best and do everything there is.

"When Roberto Mancini arrived [in 2018], we were a broken team and he took us to win the European Championship. He worked on our minds above all, now we are a completely different side and we will do everything to go to Qatar."

Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Marco Verratti says the French giants must be at 100 per cent to seal Champions League qualification against Real Madrid on Wednesday.

The Ligue 1 leaders head to the Santiago Bernabeu with a 1-0 first leg lead after Kylian Mbappe's superb late winner at the Parc des Princes as they bid for a first ever European crown.

Madrid failed to register a single shot on target in Paris, just the second time they have done so in the Champions League since 2003-04, with the other occasion also coming against PSG in September 2019.

But Verratti has urged his team-mates to forget about their first leg triumph and says PSG will come unstuck if they perform at anything less than 100 per cent.

"I don't think we can think about the first leg and the result too much", the Italy international said. "It's like we played the first half and we've still got the second half to play. 

"We've got a slight advantage but that doesn't mean anything. We can't just look to defend, especially because that's not our style of play. We don't know how to do that. 

"We'll need to try and play our game and be at 100 per cent, whether it's mentally or technically. 

"We need to do our best to put in a big performance because against Madrid, 80 per cent won't be enough. 

"They won't give us anything for free. We'll need to earn qualification and [we will] go there to win."

 

PSG are looking to avoid an all-too familiar Champions League collapse when they visit Spain. They have been eliminated from three of their eight Champions League knockout ties after winning the first leg. Only Barcelona (four times) and Real Madrid (six times) have been eliminated in this fashion more often.

Verratti featured in their Champions League final loss to Bayern Munich in 2020 as well as a series of other European near-misses, and remains determined to bring continental success to the club that he joined in 2012. 

"I'm in love with this club," the midfielder said. "I have grown up with the club, I have been here for 10 years. It's a special team, special in every way. 

"It's a team that I know will one day do even more than it does today, and that it will be even more incredible.

"We know that there are other teams who have the same goal as us, but we are getting closer. We have made a final and a semi-final in two consecutive years, and it's not easy to achieve in this competition where you always play great teams. 

"But we have to try and give it our all. We need to be at 100 per cent, then we can leave the pitch with our heads held high."

Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo hit out at the officials after the Parisians slipped to a 3-1 loss at Nantes, claiming referee Mikael Lesage favoured the hosts throughout their second loss of the Ligue 1 season.

PSG found themselves 3-0 down at half-time in an absorbing contest, during which both teams were awarded penalties, Ludovic Blas scoring from the spot for the hosts before Neymar's inexplicable second-half penalty miss halted a potential comeback from the visitors.

Meanwhile, home defender Dennis Appiah saw a first-half red card correctly overturned by VAR, before being fortunate to avoid a second booking when giving away PSG's spot-kick, and the visitors were enraged by Nicolas Pallois' tackle on Kylian Mbappe.

Speaking to Canal+ after the contest, Leonardo admitted the French league leaders did not perform well, but fumed at the officiating of the match.

"It was a tough game for us," the Brazilian said. "After a Champions League match, we knew we were the team to beat. We conceded two goals and it was deserved. 

"[But] afterwards, all the choices [of the officials] were against us. He announced a minute of added time [at the end of the first half] and then the [Nantes] penalty [eventually taken six minutes into injury-time] comes four minutes later. 

"I think there is an urge to whistle against us. The referee doesn't even whistle [for Pallois' challenge]. You risk players having three months out with an injury.

"Afterwards, Appiah concedes a penalty, and he does not give yellow when it would have been red [for two bookable offences].

"The match was no longer controlled, for us as well as for Nantes, it was completely out of control."

 

PSG's Italian midfielder Marco Verratti was one of the eight players booked during an ill-tempered affair, and was also incensed by the decision not to award Appiah a second booking for his 58th-minute foul on Mbappe.

"Sometimes the referee says we can talk to him, this evening, we couldn't at all," the 29-year-old told Canal+. "He's the only referee in the world who does things like that. 

"Normally, a penalty is a yellow card and therefore a red card. How is it possible not to show a yellow card [to Appiah]? I think the referees have to take responsibility because there, we were s*** on by the refereeing."

Despite holding a 13-point lead at the Ligue 1 summit, Mauricio Pochettino's team have only won three of their last nine away league matches (drawing four and losing two), after winning 11 of their previous 12.

Mauricio Pochettino accepts Paris Saint-Germain were not at their best in the 1-1 draw with Lens but believes a draw was a fair result.

Georginio Wijnaldum headed home in stoppage time to salvage a point after Keylor Navas had dropped Seko Fofana's long-range drive into his own net.

The result meant PSG have now picked up 16 points from losing positions in Ligue 1 this season – more than any other team in the big five European leagues.

PSG allowed a spirited Lens side 18 shots, and Pochettino acknowledged it was not an easy game for his side, who are now 13 points clear at the top of Ligue 1.

"You have to give credit to Lens, who are an aggressive team who played a very good game," he told a media conference.

"It wasn't our best night, but it's good that the team kept fighting. Lens is one of the teams that gives us the most difficulty.

"We lost a lot of balls, especially at the start of the match, which prevented us from putting ourselves in the right positions.

"The result is fair. We lacked a little precision and freshness due to our busy schedule."

Kylian Mbappe created Wijnaldum's goal with a superb cross after being introduced from the substitutes' bench in the 70th minute.

The France international has now been involved in 15 goals in Ligue 1 this season (seven goals, eight assists), with only Robert Lewandowski (17), Karim Benzema (19) and Mohamed Salah (22) doing better in Europe's big five leagues.

"I tried to give solutions to the players by making changes," Pochettino added. "Kylian has played a lot of matches in a row, he felt a little tired. We thought we had to give him a breather."

While PSG did manage to seal a late point, they have now gone two consecutive Ligue 1 games without a win for the first time since Pochettino took over in January.

Despite that, midfielder Marco Verratti was pleased with the result, praising his team-mates' character during a pulsating game.

"Lens are a team that plays in a very special way; it's a team that I like a lot, they have a lot of courage," the Italy international told Canal+.

"It feels good to play matches of this nature; you could say a little English style, with lots of chances on both sides. It was a very intense game, played until the end.

"We congratulate the Lens team, but we also showed a lot of character. We wanted to win today, but it was very hard."

PSG, whose place in the Champions League knockout stages has already been secured, take on Club Brugge in their final Group A game on Tuesday, before hosting Monaco in Ligue 1 next weekend.

Lionel Messi's Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Marco Verratti said it is easy to forget the six-time Ballon d'Or winner is a "perfectly normal person".

Messi's arrival at PSG garnered huge fanfare and interest and Verratti admitted players treated the Argentinean as the "king of the locker room" upon his arrival.

However, the Italy international said now he had got to know Messi, he had realised he is a "simple guy".

"We forget at times that Messi is a perfectly normal person like everyone else," Verratti told Sky Sport Italia ahead of PSG's clash with Manchester City on Wednesday.

"It was a difficult start for him, he is settling in more and more, we welcomed him like a king to the locker room and it’s a privilege to play alongside him.

"He's spectacular and enjoys himself in training too. He's a really simple guy without airs and I like people like him, because I am the same. We get along both on and off the field."

Messi scored a Barcelona club-record 672 goals across 778 appearances, and has netted four goals in nine games in all competitions for PSG since his August move.

Sergio Ramos was another big off-season addition for PSG, signing as a free agent from Real Madrid and he is homing in on his long-awaited debut after a calf injury.

PSG head coach Mauricio Pochettino admitted former Madrid captain Ramos is in contention to debut against City midweek, and Verratti was excited about his potential impact.

"Sergio Ramos is a player who needs no introduction," Verratti told reporters. "He has done great things with Real Madrid for many years.

"When we played against him, it was difficult to counter him because he is a player with a great personality, who understands the game well, what he has to do.

"He is a dangerous player in attack, he is a player who defends well, he is a complete player.

"He has shown that throughout his career. We are happy that he can return to the group. It was already a pleasure to train with him during the week. I think that when he's at his best, he can help us a lot."

Lionel Messi's Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Marco Verratti says it is easy to forget the six-time Ballon d'Or winner is a "perfectly normal person".

Messi's arrival at PSG garnered huge fanfare and interest and Verratti admitted players treated the Argentinean as the "king of the locker room" upon his arrival.

However, the Italy international said now he had got to know Messi he had realised that he is a "simple guy".

"We forget at times that Messi is a perfectly normal person like everyone else," Verratti told Sky Sport Italia.

"It was a difficult start for him, he is settling in more and more, we welcomed him like a king to the locker room and it’s a privilege to play alongside him.

"He’s spectacular and enjoys himself in training too. He’s a really simple guy without airs and I like people like him, because I am the same. We get along both on and off the field."

Messi scored a Barcelona club-record 672 goals across 778 appearances, and has netted four goals in nine games in all competitions for PSG since his August move.

Sergio Ramos was another big off-season addition for PSG, signing as a free agent from Real Madrid and he is homing in on his long-awaited debut after a calf injury.

PSG head coach Mauricio Pochettino has admitted that Ramos is in contention to debut against Manchester City in the Champions League on Wednesday and Verratti was excited about his potential impact.

"Sergio Ramos is a player who needs no introduction," Verratti added. "He has done great things with Real Madrid for many years.

"When we played against him, it was difficult to counter him because he is a player with a great personality, who understands the game well, what he has to do. He is a dangerous player in attack, he is a player who defends well, he is a complete player.

"He has shown that throughout his career. We are happy that he can return to the group. It was already a pleasure to train with him during the week. I think that when he's at his best, he can help us a lot. "

Sergio Ramos has taken "a massive step" in his Paris Saint-Germain career by putting himself in contention to face Manchester City, according to Mauricio Pochettino.

Although former Real Madrid captain Ramos appears only likely to make the bench for Wednesday's heavyweight battle at the Etihad Stadium, he is closer than ever to a long-awaited debut.

Rumours had circulated that PSG were considering getting rid of close-season recruit Ramos before he reached this point, as he battled back from a calf problem.

Yet Pochettino is now planning to include him as a key figure in his team, as soon as the Spain legend is fully fit.

He was physically ready enough to travel to England and give Pochettino an option, with the PSG head coach saying ahead of the game: "Sergio is doing well in the last week.

"It was a joy for him and for the team to be involved in the training session, and then he needs to build his fitness step by step. I think a very good step, a massive step, is to be involved here in the game. That is very important.

"Not only is it a first step, but it's a massive step for him to be involved. Then we will think to give, when the opportunity arrives, maybe the possibility to play."

Pochettino said watching Ramos progress from this point would be key, as he attempts to match his team-mates pace for pace.

PSG midfielder Marco Verratti enthused about the prospect of lining up in the same team as the 35-year-old Champions League great, who has won this competition four times.

As PSG hunt down a first triumph at the highest level in Europe, having a sharp Ramos at the heart of their defence later in the tournament could make all the difference.

"Sergio Ramos is a player who needs no introduction," said Verratti. "He achieved so much at Real Madrid over many years, and he is always a difficult player to face. He has so much personality. He understands the game and what he needs to do.

"He is great in attack and a fantastic defender. He has shown how good he is throughout his career. We are pleased he is in the squad, and the fact he has been training with us has already been fantastic. He is now in better shape, and he can really help this team."

Ramos only made 15 LaLiga appearances in his final season at Madrid, and last played in May when Los Blancos went down to Chelsea in the Champions League.

However, he stands joint ninth on the list of players with the most Champions League appearances, having played in the competition 129 times. He has won 79 of those games, the most by a defender.

His 15 goals have only been beaten by Roberto Carlos and Gerard Pique (both 16) among defenders, and Barcelona stalwart Pique is the only defender to have made more headed clearances than Ramos (313 to 293).

Kylian Mbappe missed training with PSG on Monday, but the forward was back on the pitch with his team-mates in Manchester on Tuesday evening.

Pochettino said: "Kylian Mbappe is doing well today. Yesterday, he could not train. But we hope it is a small issue."

The Argentine coach said he hoped Mbappe would be "in the best condition possible" for the game.

PSG are close to securing a place in the last-16 stage, and a win on Wednesday would assure them of a top-two finish in Group A.

Should Mbappe feature, as seems likely, it would be his 50th appearance in the Champions League. That would make him the second-youngest outfield player to reach 50 games in the Champions League at 22 years and 339 days, behind only Cesc Fabregas (22y 331d).

Paris Saint-Germain have confirmed Sergio Ramos is expected to rejoin first-team training next week following an injury lay-off, but Marco Verratti will be out of action for roughly a month.

Ramos joined PSG on a free transfer from Real Madrid in pre-season, having spent 16 years at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The experienced centre-back was part of something of a squad revolution at the Parc des Princes, with Lionel Messi, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Georginio Wijnaldum and Achraf Hakimi also moving to Paris.

But Ramos is yet to make his PSG debut after suffering a calf injury at the end of July, having also missed large chunks of 2020-21 due to fitness issues, including a previous calf problem.

PSG have been cautious about reintroducing Ramos to training, eager to avoid aggravating the injury, but it appears he is finally close to making his debut.

"Sergio Ramos' recovery programme, coordinated by the medical staff, is evolving as planned," read a medical update on PSG's website.

"He is expected to be able to begin training with the rest of the squad next week."

But Verratti is set for a spell on the sidelines with a hip injury, which the club believe could take a month to recover from.

As such, the Italy international will likely miss their next five matches across all competitions, potentially including PSG's two upcoming Champions League clashes with RB Leipzig and Manchester City.

"After suffering a knock in the last game, Marco Verratti has a deep lesion in the oblique muscles of his left hip. He is expected to be out for four weeks, depending on how the injury evolves," the update added.

PSG also revealed Kylian Mbappe is a doubt for Friday's visit of Lille due to illness – he is to be evaluated over the next couple of days.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said he is "in love" with Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Marco Verratti, while he also lavished Lionel Messi in praise after his side lost in the Champions League.

Messi scored his first goal for PSG after Idrissa Gueye's opening-half breakthrough in Tuesday's 2-0 victory over City in the French capital.

While Messi stole the headlines with his stunning 74th-minute goal, Guardiola heaped praise on Verratti – who helped Italy win Euro 2020 before the start of the season.

"I'm in love," Guardiola told reporters post-match. "He's an exceptional player because he's under pressure and has the calmness to take on extra touch and in that moment create extra passes behind our midfield players.

"I know the character and personality that he has and he did it again. I'm happy he's back from his injury and yeah, an exceptional player.

"He's not tall from his aspect from outside, but when you see how he moves, how he plays… he's not a player for long distance passes, but you can count on him to always help to make a build up and know exactly where the spaces are to create other situations.

"Especially in the first half, second half was much better controlled by Kevin [De Bruyne], but first half we were a little bit soft with him."

Messi has scored more Champions League goals against City (seven) than any other player, while his seven strikes against sides managed by Pep Guardiola (two against Bayern Munich, five versus City with him as manager) is also the most of any player in the competition's history.

Meanwhile, Messi has scored 27 Champions League goals against English clubs – 15 more than any other player. Only Cristiano Ronaldo has scored more goals against opponents of a specific nation (28, versus German teams) in Champions League history.

City were heavily linked with Messi before the six-time Ballon d'Or winner joined PSG at the conclusion of his Barcelona contract during the off-season.

"I wish, through my short personal relationship with him, I wish him the best," Guardiola said. "If he’s happy and enjoying this period in Paris, I will be happy. He made me so happy when we worked together, he decided for many reasons to come here, for him and his family I wish him the best."

On dealing with Messi, Guardiola added: "We deal with PSG first of all. We know that it is impossible to control Leo [Messi] during the [whole] 90 minutes, but they were not giving him a lot of touches of the ball.

"Of course, he is coming back from some injuries, so he lacked a bit of rhythm, but we know when he can run and be quite close to the ball he is unstoppable. What we have done is minimise as much as possible these kind of actions and create the chances that we could create. I’m satisfied for the way we played, it was the same as when we were at Stamford Bridge. I said after the game, I’m happy for the victory of course, but the way we played today was quite similar.

"So the people cannot deny that we were there… this is our team. In good and bad, improving or not improving, this is our team. We arrived here, played our game and they defended deep really well with seven and a half players.

"This is the risk when you lose the ball and they can make one pass, especially [Marco] Verratti, an exceptional, extraordinary player that can have contact with Neymar and Messi where they can run, so always it’s difficult. But even with that, they didn’t do much and that's all."

City suffered their first Champions League group-stage defeat since September 2018, when they lost 2-1 to Lyon – they had been unbeaten in 18 such games since then.

Mauricio Pochettino wants Lionel Messi to be given time to adapt to his new surroundings at Paris Saint-Germain, who are preparing to go up against "the best coach in the world" in Pep Guardiola. 

Messi has yet to score or assist in three appearances since joining PSG on a free transfer amid financial difficulties at Barcelona, but Pochettino is prepared to be patient with the iconic superstar. 

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner has been struggling with a knee injury of late, though he may be involved when the French club host Manchester City in a titanic Champions League clash. 

"[Messi] is progressing very well, and I think he'll be in the squad, but I don't know if he'll start," Pochettino said in his pre-match media conference ahead of Tuesday’s meeting in the French capital.  

"He's the best player in the world, but he's still a human like everyone else. He also needs to adapt to this new team, new culture and new country. He was at Barcelona for 20 years, everything is new here for him.  

"With time, I have no doubt that everything will go well and we're going to have real success together." 

The former Tottenham and Southampton boss also attempted to downplay expectations as his side chase European glory, claiming that PSG are not yet the finished article - unlike their next opponents. 

"We're a work in progress," Pochettino said. "It's not an opinion, it's a fact. We have to look at where we have come from and where we are today. 

"We're going to face Manchester City and the best coach in the world, Pep Guardiola. They're a great team, a club that dreams of winning the Champions League, as we do. They're perhaps ahead of us, but anything can happen in a football match. 

"We're going to try and cause them problems with a lot of desire, determination, and also by applying our ideas and limiting their qualities, and finding weaknesses to exploit. It's a match for the players in which they can show their potential." 

Pochettino also dismissed the idea that the contest with City is their first real challenge of the season, having won all of their first eight Ligue 1 games to sit nine points clear at the top of the table. 

"A first test? I don't think so. We've had a different challenge in each game. The start of the season hasn't been easy because we have got players back gradually. Since we've had a complete squad, we've worked,” he said.

"We know the expectations on us and we know we have to work with responsibility and rigour today, not tomorrow. We have to stand up and be counted when a game comes up." 

There was also an update on the fitness of Marco Verratti, who, like Messi, is set to be part of the squad but may not be ready to start. 

Page 1 of 3
© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.