Mauricio Pochettino hopes that Neymar has not sustained a serious injury, though conceded the images he has seen of the incident do not look good.

Neymar had to be taken off on a stretcher late on after suffering an ankle injury in Paris Saint-Germain's win over Saint-Etienne on Sunday, shortly after Angel Di Maria had made it 2-1 to the Ligue 1 leaders.

Marquinhos then headed in his second goal of the game to round off a difficult 3-1 victory, though focus was on Neymar's injury in Pochettino's post-match media duties.

Neymar was pictured leaving the ground on crutches and while hopeful the forward will make a swift recovery, Pochettino explained PSG must wait for a full diagnosis on Monday.

"There is nothing more to say for the moment, it is the pain he felt in the leg with his ankle that turned. We will have the exams tomorrow and we will see," Pochettino told a news conference.

Pochettino had previously told Amazon Prime: "We will have to see this tomorrow but from the images, I hope that it's not a big deal and that he will be back with the squad quickly. But the action is not good."

Neymar subsequently posted an update to his official Instagram account.

"Let's recover, unfortunately these setbacks are part of an athlete's life," he wrote. "Now that's what you have, lift your head and let's go. I'll come back better and stronger."

Should Neymar face a lengthy absence, PSG can at least rest assured they can still field a star-studded front three, with Di Maria proving his worth against Saint-Etienne as he scored in successive league appearances for the first time since November 2019.

PSG also, of course, have Lionel Messi, who provided all three assists in the victory – the third time in his career he has set up three goals in a single league match. 

At the back, Sergio Ramos made his long-awaited bow, becoming PSG's oldest debutant since David Beckham in 2013.

Denis Bouanga put Saint-Etienne ahead, meaning PSG came back to win after conceding the opening goal for the fifth time in Ligue 1 this season, already equalling their best tally for comeback victories in a full season, set four times before (2014-15, 2011-12, 2003-04, 1985-86).

Neymar suffered a potentially serious injury as Paris Saint-Germain laboured to a 3-1 win over 10-man Saint-Etienne.

Looking for a response after their defeat to Manchester City in midweek, not to mention the speculation over Mauricio Pochettino's future, PSG fell flat for much of Sunday's game but Angel Di Maria and Marquinhos came up with the goods late on.

Marquinhos had earlier cancelled out Denis Bouanga's opener, after Timothee Kolodziejczak was sent off for the struggling hosts.

However, PSG will now hold concern over Neymar, who had to be taken off on a stretcher with an apparent ankle injury between the visitors' late goals.

The race to sign Erling Haaland may have taken another turn.

Norway forward Haaland is a hot property being pursued by a host of top clubs, with Manchester United among them.

Borussia Dortmund retained his services at the start of this season but the race is expected to heat up in the off-season.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED HOPEFUL OF HAALAND EDGE

The Mirror reports that the imminent appointment of Ralf Rangnick at Manchester United can give them the edge in the race for Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland.

Rangnick and Haaland worked together previously at Salzburg and United believe that relationship can propel them to the front of the queue.

Manchester City, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain are all in the race to sign the 21-year-old.

 

ROUND-UP

- PSG will not let head coach Mauricio Pochettino exit the club during the season amid links with Manchester United's vacant managerial role, reports Goal. The Argentine may be allowed to leave at the end of the season.

- Marca report that Real Madrid will not be signing Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba in the off-season despite widespread speculation about a move.

- Sevilla are leading the race to sign Blackburn's Chile international Ben Brereton, according to The Sun. Rovers want £20m for his services.

- West Ham are set to launch a £7m bid to sign Burnley defender James Tarkowski,  report The Sun.

Sergio Ramos claimed he can "continue playing for four or five years" if he can stay mentally strong as he expects his physical state to hold up.

Ramos moved to Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer in July, but is yet to make an appearance for Mauricio Pochettino's side due to a knee injury.

The centre-back made a huge step on his road to recovery as he was an unused substitute in Wednesday's Champions League loss against Manchester City.

The former Real Madrid star could be in line for his debut away to Saint-Etienne, where PSG are unbeaten in 12 league games, with their last loss coming in September 2008.

But Ramos feels he can play on for a lot longer if his mental state can hold out, as he believes he is physically fit enough to compete for many more years.

"I think I can continue playing for four or five years," Ramos told Amazon Prime Video in an interview that will be broadcast in full on Sunday. 

"The most important thing is that my head holds. I hope I don't have any more physical problems."

 

The 35-year-old ended a 16-year association with Madrid when he left for France, but he has not played since Los Blancos' Champions League loss against Chelsea in early May.

Numerous reports have suggested an earlier return for Ramos, who signed a two-year contract at Parc des Princes, though Sunday could finally be the day he makes his bow.

When fit, Pochettino will have one of football's best defenders in terms of attacking returns to call upon, but Ramos' comeback will also be a sweet personal victory for the Spain international.

"I believed in myself and in work," he continued. "I focus on giving the club back the trust it has placed in me. I hope to reach my best level.

"At the end are difficult moments, moments of loneliness. Whole hours in the gym with the physiotherapist, with the physical trainer. You constantly have negative thoughts that sometimes make you doubt."

Mauricio Pochettino says being linked with the Manchester United job can only be a good thing as it must mean he is doing a good job with Paris Saint-Germain.

The ex-Espanyol, Southampton and Tottenham boss has been persistently touted as United's top choice to succeed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on a permanent basis at Old Trafford.

He is reported to be interested in a return to the Premier League with the Red Devils, who look poised to name Ralf Rangnick as interim boss until the end of the season. 

Pochettino refused to quash the rumours after Wednesday's 2-1 Champions League loss to Manchester City, but PSG sporting director Leonardo said on Friday the Argentine has not asked to leave.

The speculation is unlikely to go away until United bring in a new full-time boss, but Pochettino insists he will not let it distract him from his duties at Parc des Princes.

"I am very focused on PSG. We are used to these rumours," he said at a news conference ahead of Sunday's Ligue 1 trip to Saint-Etienne. 

"Rumours come often, and it's a good sign that they come often, because it's a sign that we are doing a good job. 

"But we do not create these rumours. We just focus on working well. We make sure to stay calm and that it does not affect us. The players are focused, too. It doesn't affect us."

Pochettino was cheekily asked if he prefers roast beef or boeuf bourguignon, to which he replied: "Argentinian barbecue, always!"

 

PSG travel to Stade Geoffroy-Guichard aiming to bounce back from their midweek loss at the hands of City.

The Parisiens have won 12 of their 14 Ligue 1 games this term and are unbeaten in 16 league meetings with Saint-Etienne, winning 11 of those.

Sergio Ramos, an unused substitute in the defeat at the Etihad Stadium, is in line to make his first appearance for PSG after recovering from a niggling injury issue.

The Spain international has spent his entire career to date in Spain and Pochettino acknowledged it may take time for the experienced centre-back to adapt.

"He needs to play. We'll have to see how he adapts to the league, which is completely different from LaLiga," Pochettino said.

"It's hard to predict how he will get on. It's just a feeling. He'll need the time it takes.

"He's behaving professionally and wants to help the team. He's a player that we know, with a lot of experience, and is a great champion. He can bring his knowledge and values."

PSG confirmed on Saturday that Marco Verratti will miss the trip to Saint-Etienne but should be back in training next week, while Ander Herrera, Georginio Wijnaldum and Mauro Icardi are also out.

"These are things that happen in football," Pochettino said when asked about Verratti's injury setback. "He's an important player for us, but also for all the coaches who have been here. 

"He is a fundamental player. It's a pity that he cannot be counted on tomorrow. We hope that he can find this continuity with the team to play regularly. We are still positive, and we hope that this will be his last injury."

Angel Di Maria is open to playing in midfield for Paris Saint-Germain as he looks to secure more game time, and believes it could be his best position.

Di Maria has been a star for PSG since joining the Ligue 1 giants from Manchester United in 2015.

The attacker has made 274 appearances for PSG across all competitions, scoring 89 goals and providing a further 107 assists.

Since he joined PSG, no player has played more games than the Argentine, who has also crafted 669 chances, way ahead of Neymar, who ranks second in the squad with 350. Indeed, Di Maria is 41 assists ahead of Kylian Mbappe (66), and only three players have scored more goals in the same timeframe.

Di Maria only signed a new contract in March, he has not been able to nail down a regular starting berth so far this term.

Mauricio Pochettino has a wealth of options at his disposal, and can hardly be blamed for starting Neymar, Mbappe and Lionel Messi, who arrived from Barcelona in August, in a sensational attacking trident.

While the trio have not yet clicked to their full potential, Di Maria has often been the man left out. The 33-year-old has made just 10 appearances this season, scoring twice and setting up a further three goals.

Having started seven games, Di Maria creates 2.42 chances per 90 minutes on average, showing his playmaking abilities are still as good as ever.

In fact, despite his lack of minutes, Di Maria has only created fewer chances than Neymar (28) and Mbappe (33) in 2021-22.

With Messi, Mbappe and Neymar needing to be accommodated up front, Pochettino has often gone with a more workman-like midfield three.

However, Di Maria, who was excellent in a deeper role in his final season at Real Madrid in 2013-14, is hoping he gets the chance to show his quality in midfield.

"I think I've already shown that I can play in that position. In fact, it was my best year at Real Madrid, in 2014," Di Maria told RMC Sport.

"The manager knows I can play there, but then it's down to decisions. He's there to decide and we're there to do as best as we can on the pitch, no matter where, in midfield, up front, or elsewhere.

"Those are questions for him, the only thing I've done since I arrived at PSG has been to give it my all when on the pitch.

"It's true that I like to play with the ball at my feet. In 2014 I played in midfield and I felt very good, really happy. With quality players at PSG like Marco [Verratti], Leandro [Paredes] or Gana [Idrissa Gueye] it could work, but those are the manager's decisions."

 

Last season, Di Maria scored two goals, created 14 chances and provided three assists in Ligue 1 from attacking carries, suggesting he may be suited to playing deeper to drive with the ball and supply the attack. 

Although frustrated by a lack of regular action, Di Maria understands the reasons.

"When you have those three up front, it makes sense that the first option is to play them, they are the best on the pitch," he added.

"With what they've won, and who they are, it gives all three of them a different status. Or at least to two of them, because Messi is different to the others. He's the best player in the world and he always has to be on the pitch.

"But I'm always trying to give it 100 per cent to get into the starting XI. I know that it's not easy for me given the players in my position. That's why I'm doing as much as I can to maybe find a different option."

Mauricio Pochettino has not asked to leave Paris Saint-Germain and no talks have been held with Zinedine Zidane, the club's sporting director, Leonardo, has said.

Speculation has persisted that Pochettino is one of Manchester United's top targets to succeed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as manager.

The Red Devils have reportedly identified the Argentine as a leading candidate, most likely for the end of the season, with Ralf Rangnick poised to take over on an interim basis for the rest of 2021-22.

The former Spurs boss, who is keen to return to the Premier League according to some reports, refused to quash the rumours following his side's 2-1 Champions League defeat to Manchester City on Wednesday.

It has also been claimed that PSG have spoken several times with former Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane over the prospect of taking charge should Pochettino ask to leave.

However, Leonardo insists there has been no contact from any club about Pochettino, who is under contract until the end of next season.

"I think it's important to clarify the situation given the amount of false information circulating. Mauricio Pochettino is under contract with the club until 2023," he told AFP.

"We do not want Pochettino to leave. He never asked to leave and no club contacted us in relation to him."

Leonardo also denied claims that PSG officials met with Zidane at Paris' prestigious Royal Monceau hotel to discuss the prospect of taking charge.

"We have a lot of respect for Zinedine Zidane, for what he did as a player and coach, but I can tell you very clearly that there is no contact and that no meeting with him has taken place," he said.

"It's ridiculous to imagine that a meeting with Zinedine Zidane could have taken place in a big hotel in Paris in front of the eyes of everyone."

PSG, who lead Ligue 1 by 11 points after 14 rounds, are next in action at Saint-Etienne on Sunday.

It has been a turbulent period for Manchester United, but they appear on the cusp of solving one issue.

With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gone, struggling United need a new manager and while Mauricio Pochettino seems to be the dream appointment, the Red Devils are reportedly closing in on a short-term solution.

Ralf Rangnick.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED TURN TO RANGNICK ON SHORT-TERM BASIS

Manchester United are set to appoint former RB Leipzig boss Ralf Rangnick as interim manager, according to The Athletic, ESPN and widespread reports.

After sacking Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, United outlined their plan to install an interim boss until the end of the season amid reported long-term interest in Paris Saint-Germain's Mauricio Pochettino and Ajax head coach Erik ten Hag.

There had been reports United could turn to Pochettino immediately but a deal to prise the former Tottenham boss from Paris proved difficult.

Instead, United have offered Rangnick a six-month contract at Old Trafford, where the 63-year-old German is set to take up a consultancy role once his interim tenure ends.

Rangnick is currently head of sports and development at Russian outfit Lokomotiv Moscow.

 

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato claims Chelsea are plotting a move for Italy star Federico Chiesa, who is still on loan from Fiorentina. Juventus are set to sign Chiesa permanently at the end of the season, though he is wanted by a host of clubs, including Bayern Munich and Liverpool.

- United have emerged as a possible destination for in-demand Fiorentina forward Dusan Vlahovic, reports the Daily Mail. Vlahovic is wanted by Manchester CityAtletico Madrid, JuveInterArsenalTottenham and Bayern but the Red Devils are believed to have joined the race.

Barcelona could sell Memphis Depay to help in their efforts to prise Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund, per El Nacional. Depay only joined Barca on a free transfer at the start of the season, but the financially stricken LaLiga giants are among the long list of Haaland admirers. Haaland has been linked with CityUnitedReal MadridBayernLiverpoolChelseaJuve and PSG.

- Fabrizio Romano claims Stefano Pioli will sign a new contract with Milan on Friday. The Rossoneri head coach is set to extend his deal until June 2023, with the option of a further season.

Mauricio Pochettino remains Manchester United's top target, according to reports.

It may be some time before the Paris Saint-Germain boss ends up at Old Trafford, though. 

United appear set to finish this season with an interim manager before making a permanent move for the sacked Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's long-term successor.
 

TOP STORY – UNITED FOCUSED ON INTERIM MANAGER OPTIONS

All indications are that Mauricio Pochettino will end up at Manchester United eventually, but it could take several months.

The Daily Star reports Pochettino will have to wait six months – through to the end of this season – before jumping from Paris Saint-Germain to Old Trafford.

The report says United have not made any official overtures to PSG and are focused on finding an interim boss instead, with hopes of appointing one by mid-December.

Julen Lopetegui and Ernesto Valverde are among the candidates for that role, claims the Daily Star, while the Mirror says Ralf Rangnick, Paulo Fonseca, Lucien Favre and Rudi Garcia also are in the mix, along with caretaker manager Michael Carrick.

ROUND-UP

- United and Newcastle are the top contenders to sign Kieran Trippier from Atletico Madrid, according to The Sun.

- Liverpool and Barcelona are eyeing a move for Christian Pulisic, reports El Nacional, but Chelsea's €50million price tag would be too much for Barca and the Blues prefer not to sell the USA international to another Premier League club.

- Chelsea are interested in adding defender Attila Szalai from Fenerbahce, says Football Insider.

- Adama Traore could be on the move in January as Wolves are prepared to listen to offers for the 25-year-old, Football Insider reports.

Mauricio Pochettino refused to shut down rumours he could become the next Manchester United manager after Paris Saint-Germain lost to Manchester City.

The Ligue 1 leaders took the lead at the Etihad Stadium but goals from Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus secured a 2-1 victory for City and top spot in Champions League Group A.

The match has been overshadowed by speculation over Pochettino's future, with the former Tottenham boss said to be one of United's top targets to succeed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as manager.

Despite insisting before the game that he was committed to PSG, talk has persisted that the Argentine is keen to return to his family in England and would relish the chance to take over at Old Trafford.

Speaking after his side's defeat in Manchester, Pochettino declined to rule out the prospect of leaving for United.

"The players are well aware of the situation," he said, as per L'Equipe.

"There are rumours in this environment, some positive, some negative. Now is not the time to talk about it.

"We have to improve in all aspects, all areas. We are improving. I'm happy with the process. There are things that are better now than a month ago. Little by little, the team will improve."

City looked the stronger side for much of the contest, finishing with 2.09 expected goals to the visitors' 1.04.

They had 16 shots to PSG's seven and 37 touches in their opponents' box while conceding only 10 as they largely limited the impact of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

Pochettino accepted his side were second-best in the first half but felt the game was under their control when they held the lead.

"There were two halves," he said. "They started better. They were very aggressive in pressing. There were some good things but others that need to be improved.

"At 0-0 at half-time, we were able to solve some problems. We had the game under control at 1-0. I'm disappointed with the result. You have to progress every day."

You won't often find a meeting of two Champions League heavyweights in which the 90 minutes on the pitch are a sideshow, but they were in Manchester City's 2-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain.

For one thing, RB Leipzig were 4-0 up half-time against Club Brugge, making the result at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday largely redundant: both these teams knew they would be into the last 16 should Leipzig win.

The game was therefore a sub-plot, albeit of the calibre of the Succession writers' room. The main story related to a wholly different dysfunctional dynasty, the pre-match discourse dominated by Mauricio Pochettino and Manchester United's latest post-Ferguson search for a manager. You have to hand it to United for making one of their rivals' biggest games of the season more about them. Noisy neighbours, indeed.

Pochettino, we are led to believe, has misgivings about staying as PSG head coach, despite insisting this week that he was enjoying life at the club. With his family still in London and an uncomfortable feeling around Parc des Princes, the former Tottenham boss, it is said, would be greatly interested in a return to England via United.

It definitely looked like PSG minds were elsewhere in the first half. Their plans were upset by the loss of Marco Verratti and Georginio Wijnaldum to late injuries, while Sergio Ramos is still a spectator, and they were distinctly second best against the Premier League champions despite the 0-0 scoreline.

While the glittering trident of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe showed only the odd spark, City's forwards shone brightly, Riyad Mahrez setting the tone with every magnificent first touch. Ilkay Gundogan hit the post when he should have scored; Marquinhos led a penalty-box blockade, the captain and Achraf Hakimi each stopping goal-bound efforts.

There, at least, Pochettino deserves credit. With Ander Herrera, Idrissa Gueye and Leandro Paredes screening the back four, it was hard for City to test Keylor Navas despite 'MNM' guarding their own defenders about as well as a chocolate shell protects a peanut. Keeping it tight and trusting his stars to improvise is not a method for which Pochettino is renowned; it's straight out of the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer playbook, one that brought him four wins over Pep Guardiola in all competitions as United manager.

But it got PSG their lead five minutes into the second half. Messi's cross was deflected to Mbappe and he blasted through Ederson's legs. It was his 29th Champions League goal in 50 games, a tally bettered only by two French players in history and one you suspect he will easily surpass.

PSG began to threaten a second on the break, but after Herrera was lost to injury, Raheem Sterling stabbed in at the far post after Rodri brilliantly played in Kyle Walker. It was no less than City deserved and few would have begrudged them their winner, Gabriel Jesus steering the ball in from Bernardo Silva's lay-off after Mahrez was given space to cross from the right for what felt like the 37th time. It was a great antidote to their 2-0 loss in Paris, where City did everything with the ball except put it between the goal posts before Messi spectacularly killed the contest.

And that's perhaps the key takeaway from this not-quite-dead-rubber. The two most lavish projects in football history have followed disparate routes: while one is carried by individual stars, the other is powered by the magic of its manager. Neither has yet led to the Champions League trophy, but on this evidence, it's the men in sky blue who will be challenging this season.

City, incontrovertibly, are Guardiola's City. This is not Pochettino's PSG. And as long as that is the case, the talk of discontent will continue, and the shadow of Old Trafford will loom large in the City of Light.

Gabriel Jesus's late winner saw Manchester City come from behind to beat Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 on Wednesday, sealing top spot in Group A for Pep Guardiola's men.

Mauricio Pochettino, who has been linked with City's neighbours Manchester United, needed his team to avoid defeat if they were to stand a chance of winning the group, but ultimately the hosts' dominance told.

Guardiola would have been frustrated with the amount of chances City spurned in the first half, though, particularly given Kylian Mbappe then put PSG in front four minutes into the second period.

PSG had improved considerably as an attacking threat, but City upped the intensity again and deservedly levelled through Raheem Sterling, before substitute Jesus completed an impressive victory.

RB Leipzig's win at Club Brugge means PSG will qualify for the knockout phase regardless, however.

City appeared in control almost from the outset, first going close after six minutes when Rodri's glancing header was cleared off the line by Presnel Kimpembe.

Keylor Navas then denied Riyad Mahrez at full-stretch shortly after Ilkay Gundogan hit the post from the centre of the box, with PSG creating precious little at the other end.

But PSG took a rare chance early in the second half, when Mbappe drilled through Ederson's legs after Lionel Messi's cross at the end of a flowing move fell kindly at the back post.

City's equaliser 13 minutes later was similarly well-worked, though, Rodri picking out Kyle Walker at the far post, whose pass across the face of goal was nudged on by Jesus for Sterling to prod home.

Jesus then got the winner 14 minutes from time, guiding in a composed finished after being delicately teed up by Bernardo Silva.

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).

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