Neymar will make his return for Paris Saint-Germain when they take on rivals Marseille in the Trophee des Champions.

PSG will look to win the trophy for a remarkable eighth consecutive season as they line up against Marseille in Lens on Wednesday.

New head coach Mauricio Pochettino confirmed Neymar will play some part in the contest after missing the last five matches with an ankle injury.

"Neymar is available - he will be with the group," Pochettino said about the Brazil forward, who has been out for a month since the Ligue 1 defeat to Lyon.

"We will decide on Wednesday if he will start."

There have been concerns about burnout for Kylian Mbappe, who again played 90 minutes in the 3-0 Ligue 1 win over Brest on Saturday.

But Pochettino is optimistic about the World Cup winner's fitness ahead of a match with high stakes, where the coach feels pride is more important than the silverware on offer.

"Kylian is in perfect condition," Pochettino said when asked if Mbappe could start for a third time in eight days.

"We are evaluating the different options for our line-up on Wednesday. We will see which team is the best to win this match. We need to perform at the best level to get the win against Marseille.

"My main motivation is to win this game. We are playing against a great rival in OM. Pride is important, much more than titles. We will do everything to win this match. 

"If we win, we know it will bring a trophy. But the most important thing is pride."

Asked about his own experiences of Le Classique as a PSG player, Pochettino added: "I remember these meetings perfectly.

"All the games were very special. For the players, the fans, the club, football is a sport of emotions.

"We realise with the health situation how much we miss the fans. The importance of this match, I had already felt it in my time."

Five players were sent off in stoppage time when these two sides met in Ligue 1 in September, following a brawl, but Pochettino sees that having no bearing on this week's game.

"The first match [against Marseille this season] is one I was not involved in. I can't talk much about it. I saw pictures. The situation is over," Pochettino said.

PSG will be without Colin Dagba, the latest player at the club to test positive for coronavirus.

Dagba has started both PSG games under Pochettino, but the defender will not play no part against Andre Villas-Boas' side as he is self-isolating.

Fellow defender Thilo Kehrer and Rafinha have also tested positive for the virus since PSG returned to training this month.

Mauricio Pochettino insists there is still room for improvement from his Paris Saint-Germain side after brushing aside Brest 3-0 on Saturday.

Second-half substitutes Mauro Icardi and Pablo Sarabia added to Moise Kean's opener as the reigning Ligue 1 champions ran out comfortable winners at the Parc des Princes.

The win, coming three days on from a 1-1 draw with Saint-Etienne in Pochettino's first game in charge, moves PSG within a point of leaders Lyon, who were held 2-2 by Rennes.

But despite the comfortable manner of the scoreline, Pochettino - named as Thomas Tuchel's successor last week - accepts there are still things to work on.

"We are satisfied with the result, it is the fruit of the effort of all the players," he told Canal+.

"But there is still a lot we have to correct. We must continue to work with high standards."

Kylian Mbappe fired a blank for the third time in four outings, failing to find the net from any of his three shots on target - more than any other player on the field.

But the France forward claimed an impressive assist for Sarabia's goal by taking the ball past a couple of opponents and teeing up his team-mate.

He cut a frustrated figure at times but Pochettino is pleased with Mbappe's overall display.

"Mbappe has done good things," Pochettino said. "He had chances and it's a shame he didn't score. But he had a good game."

PSG had 60.9 per cent of the ball against Brest - compared to an average of 63.9 per cent under former boss Tuchel - and attempted 11 shots on target.

Sarabia, who netted his third league goal of the season 27 minutes after being brought off the bench, believes Pochettino's style of play is already clear to see just two games in.

"He wants us to have a lot of the ball and to knock the ball a lot to destabilise the opponent," he said.

"He asks us to do a lot of pressing, very high. It is very important to capture all the ideas of the coach to try to do the best possible. 

"There are things that are similar between Tuchel and Pochettino but there are things that are very different. We have to work because there are a lot of things that are new."

PSG now switch focus to Wednesday's Trophee des Champions clash with Marseille and a chance to win a first piece of silverware of the Pochettino tenure.

"It's a very special match for Paris and for me too," the former Tottenham boss said. 

"We hope to have a good match and to arrive in the best conditions to be competitive. And of course, like every time we play Marseille, we have to win."

Paris Saint-Germain saw off Brest 3-0 to collect their first victory under new head coach Mauricio Pochettino and close the gap on Ligue 1 leaders Lyon.

PSG were held to a 1-1 draw by Saint-Etienne in Pochettino's first game in charge on Wednesday but had too much quality for Brest in Saturday's encounter at the Parc des Princes.

Moise Kean's 11th goal of the campaign in all competitions set the reigning champions on their way with 16 minutes played and substitutes Mauro Icardi and Pablo Sarabia each got on the scoresheet in the final 10 minutes.

The win - less emphatic than the scoreline may suggest - moved Pochettino's men within a point of pacesetters Lyon, who battled back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Rennes and retain top spot.

Mauricio Pochettino wants "special player" Kylian Mbappe to enjoy himself on the pitch, which could help him to regain his best form.

Mbappe has 12 goals in 14 Ligue 1 matches this season but has not been at the peak of his powers amid concerns over burnout.

Pochettino said the 22-year-old needed to improve after Paris Saint-Germain were held to a 1-1 draw at Saint-Etienne in the new head coach's first game in charge on Wednesday.

Ahead of facing Brest in his first home game since replacing Thomas Tuchel on Saturday, Pochettino was asked if forward Mbappe still seemed tired.

"It is a question about a special player," Pochettino said of Mbappe, who is in negotiations to renew his contract beyond 2022 amid speculation he could move on.

"He came back in good shape after the break, with a very good state of mind. 

"He is the top scorer in the championship. We hope that he will have fun and find the performance of which he is capable."

Returning to Parc des Princes, where he played from 2001 until 2003, is an occasion former Tottenham boss Pochettino – who will again be without star forward Neymar - is looking forward to.

"It's going to be a special night and a joy, yes, 20 years after wearing this jersey," he said.

"Unfortunately there will be no supporters, it's a shame and that will be missing. 

"In any case, we talked about it among ourselves and with our families: we have the impression that we have been here for a year, whereas it's only been five or six days!"

With one game to go until Ligue 1 reaches its halfway stage, champions PSG are three points behind leaders Lyon.

Neymar is not fit to make his return from injury when Paris Saint-Germain take on Brest in Ligue 1, though Mauro Icardi is one of a trio returning to action.

Icardi, Layvin Kurzawa and Alessandro Florenzi will all be available at Parc des Princes on Saturday after injury absences.

PSG laboured to a 1-1 draw in Mauricio Pochettino's opening game in charge away to Saint-Etienne on Wednesday

He will seek his first win since replacing Thomas Tuchel at home to Brest, with PSG looking for a sixth straight Ligue 1 win against them.

With 36 points after 18 games this season, it is their worst opening to a top-flight campaign since 2012-13.

Pochettino will bid to start improving their results without Neymar – who has not played since suffering an ankle injury on December 13 – while Rafinha and Juan Bernat are also out.

"We need to get the players who are out back in action as soon as possible so that we can be as competitive as we want to be," Pochettino said ahead of facing Brest.

"The team have shown a fantastic attitude and an ability to learn quickly from us in a short period of time."

Neymar will then have missed five matches, with the next decision to be whether he plays any part against Marseille in the Trophee des Champions on Wednesday.

Central to PSG's thoughts is February's crucial Champions League last-16 first leg against Barcelona.

Paris Saint-Germain will visit either Guingamp or Caen when they begin their Coupe de France defence in the round of 64.

PSG won the competition last season as former head coach Thomas Tuchel masterminded a treble triumph, beating Saint-Etienne 1-0 in the final.

That successful campaign started away to sixth-tier Linas-Montlhery and Mauricio Pochettino's PSG will be on the road again after being drawn against Guingamp or Caen.

The Ligue 2 sides are set to face one another on January 20 for the right to host the French champions in February.

PSG have won the trophy a record 13 times, including five of the past six editions.

Saint-Etienne are also away - to Nancy or Sochaux - but Ligue 1 leaders Lyon will welcome Chateauroux or Ajaccio to the Groupama Stadium.

Marseille will visit Troyes or Auxerre, while Monaco are heading for Clermont or Grenoble.

Lille face Ligue 1 opposition in the form of struggling Dijon, and fourth visit seventh as Rennes go to Angers.

Mauricio Pochettino was satisfied with the effort put in by his Paris Saint-Germain team against Saint-Etienne, but knows there are lots of improvements to make.

PSG laboured to a 1-1 draw in Pochettino's opening game in charge, with the former Tottenham boss having replaced Thomas Tuchel.

The Ligue 1 champions moved up to second thanks to Lille's defeat to Angers, but are three points behind leaders Lyon.

Saint-Etienne capitalised on Idrissa Gueye's mistake to take the lead, but Moise Kean's eighth league goal of the season cancelled out Romain Hamouma's opener.

Denis Bouanga hit the crossbar for Saint-Etienne after the break, while Kean snatched at a good chance and Angel Di Maria forced Jessy Moulin into action with what was PSG's only shot on target in the second half as the spoils were shared on Wednesday.

"I am happy with the efforts of the players," Pochettino told Telefoot. "We've been trying since our first day to set up different concepts. 

"I'm happy with their efforts, their attitude. It's only the beginning. They have to adapt to us [the staff] and we have to adapt to them. There is work to be done to get to know each other better.

"We have to improve in several situations, especially with the ball, but it was difficult because the preparation has was very short.

"I am disappointed, because we are PSG and we want to win. But we didn't have a lot of time to prepare for the match.

"We still have a lot of things to improve, to develop. This is not the result that we wanted."

Paris Saint-Germain failed to get off to a winning start under Mauricio Pochettino as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Saint-Etienne in Ligue 1.

Thomas Tuchel oversaw a 4-0 defeat of Strasbourg in PSG's final game of 2020, although it was not enough for the German to keep his job as the defending champions sat third.

And Pochettino was unable to mastermind a victory to kickstart his reign as a rather lethargic PSG struggled to build on Moise Kean's 22nd-minute equaliser.

That goal cancelled out Romain Hamouma's opener, but PSG were ultimately fortunate Saint-Etienne did not snatch a first win over the capital club since 2012, their point enough to move second but three points behind Lyon.

Both goalkeepers were called into action inside the opening 10 minutes as Keylor Navas denied Harold Moukoudi at one end before Moise Kean tested Jessy Moulin at the other.

Yet Pochettino's tenure had its first setback 19 minutes in when PSG played themselves into trouble, Idrissa Gueye's slip pounced on by Denis Bouanga, with Hamouma supplying a neat finish over Navas.

PSG hit back inside three minutes, however, as Marco Verratti played in Kean to slam in the first goal of the Pochettino era on the turn.

Mathieu Debuchy's low strike forced Navas into a smart stop before half-time, and PSG's goalkeeper came to their rescue again in the second period, blocking Bouanga's path to goal.

Navas was beaten with 20 minutes remaining, but the crossbar kept out Bouanga's header.

Kean snatched at a good chance as PSG sparked back into life, yet Angel Di Maria's low strike – well saved by Moulin – was the only shot on target the visitors managed in the second half as Pochettino was forced to settle for a point.

Neymar remains unavailable for Mauricio Pochettino's first match in charge of Paris Saint-Germain, though the new coach has called up 17-year-old Xavi Simons to be a part of the squad.

Following over a week of strong speculation, former Tottenham boss Pochettino was finally appointed by PSG on January 2, replacing Thomas Tuchel after his dismissal.

Tuchel had been shown the door despite leading PSG to last season's Champions League final, which the German also guided them through this season despite a tricky group.

But the club were reportedly concerned about his capability of getting them past Barcelona in the next round, while he had also engaged in a public spat with sporting director Leonardo over transfers.

Pochettino signed on until the end of next season and his first game in charge is at Saint-Etienne on Wednesday, with PSG hoping a win takes them back to the Ligue 1 summit.

They will have to continue to make do without Neymar, who in December was ruled out until this month with an ankle injury.

PSG are yet to confirm when exactly they expect the Brazilian to return, though the trip to Les Verts has come too soon.

Pochettino earned a reputation at Spurs and Southampton for trusting young players, and he has named several teenagers in his first squad with the Parisians as well.

While Kays Ruiz, Bandiougou Fadiga and Timothee Pembele all made Ligue 1 appearances under Tuchel, Simons did not.

A Netherlands youth international signed from Barcelona in 2019, Simons has long cultivated a keen following online through his social media activity and relationship with Nike.

Throughout his teenage years he has been linked with many of the world's biggest clubs, having been regarded highly at Barca, but it is at PSG where the technical midfielder appears primed to make a breakthrough.

The youngster was named in two Ligue 1 matchday squads earlier this season, though the most recent was in October and he is yet to make his official debut for the club.

Mauricio Pochettino's first news conference as Paris Saint-Germain coach was dominated by questions about a player every club in the world dreams of having.

But Pochettino was not interested in discussions about Lionel Messi, the Barcelona star who is out of contract at the end of the season and free to talk to other clubs this month.

Instead, he is solely focused on the task in front of him, getting the best out of one of the elite squads in European football after receiving a late Christmas present of a return to a club he once graced as a player.

Speaking ahead of Wednesday's meeting with Saint-Etienne, Pochettino - who officially replaced Thomas Tuchel on Saturday - said: "Father Christmas has already given me a gift, this fantastic club.

"It is incredible for us and it is the chance for me to fulfil a dream by rejoining the club where I played 20 years ago. We are very aware that it is a huge challenge and there are huge demands at PSG."

The former Tottenham boss batted off several questions about Messi, with transfer talk not high on the agenda as he looks to make a winning start to his reign at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard.

"We have been trying to adapt to a new club and we have had to prepare for tomorrow's game, which is the principal objective of winning tomorrow," he added. 

"We have time to talk like that in the future. Any big player in the world, I think, will always be welcome at Paris Saint-Germain."

Messi has been consistently linked with a move to the Parc des Princes, with speculation further fuelled by PSG star Neymar expressing his desire to reunite with his former Barca team-mate.

For Pochettino, though, his immediate task is to get the best out of both Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, France's World Cup-winning hero the top scorer in Ligue 1 this season with 12 goals.

"Over time, as I work with the squad, we will find the position where he can perform at his best," Pochettino said of Neymar.

"The big player like Kylian can play in different spaces on the pitch. The most important is how he is going to feel on the pitch and how he is going to attack the space.

"Our aim and our challenge is to put them in the best position and in the best situation where they can be decisive. That is the most important challenge for us and for our coaching staff."

Saint-Etienne will aim to stop one of the most feared forward lines in the world hitting the ground running under Pochettino, with Les Verts boss Claude Puel a familiar face to Pochettino.

Former Southampton and Leicester City manager Puel has faced Pochettino six times, with the Argentinian victorious in all but one encounter.

Still, Pochettino expects a testing start to his reign, saying: "We have faced each other in England so it will be a tough game. We are very excited to get our time in France under way."

New Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino says he is honoured to take charge of "some of the world's most talented players".

The former Tottenham boss signed a contract until June 2022, which includes an option for a further year, with the Ligue 1 champions on Saturday.

Pochettino replaces Thomas Tuchel, whose dismissal was finally confirmed on Tuesday after reports of his sacking initially emerged on Christmas Eve.

After his appointment was confirmed, Pochettino discussed his pride and ambition after returning to the club he played for between 2001 and 2003.

The prospect of managing the likes of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe was one about which he was already excited.

"I am really happy and honoured to become the new coach of Paris Saint-Germain," Pochettino, 48, told his new club's website

"I would like to thank the club's management for the trust they have placed in me. 

"As you know, this club has always held a special place in my heart. I have wonderful memories, especially of the unique atmosphere of the Parc des Princes. 

"I return to the club today with a lot of ambition and humility, and am eager to work with some of the world's most talented players. 

"This team has fantastic potential and my staff and I will do everything we can to get the best for Paris Saint-Germain in all competitions. 

"We will also do our utmost to give our team the combative and attacking playing identity that Parisian fans have always loved."

PSG chairman and CEO Nasser Al-Khelaifi felt the appointment meant Pochettino had returned to his footballing home.

"We are very pleased to welcome Mauricio Pochettino as first team coach," he said.

"I am proud to see our former captain returning to Paris Saint-Germain, as the club has always remained his home. 

"The return of Mauricio fits perfectly with our ambitions and it will be another exciting chapter for the club and one I am positive the fans will enjoy. 

"With the appointment of Mauricio Pochettino, Paris Saint-Germain is committed to continue to build and move the club forward over the coming years."

Pochettino, previously linked with the Real Madrid and Manchester United jobs, was sacked by Spurs in November last year after five impressive years in charge in north London.

Although he failed to win a trophy, he turned Spurs into regular top-four contenders and Premier League title hopefuls, while taking them to the Champions League final in 2019, where they lost to Liverpool.

Tuchel was sacked after an inconsistent start to the 2020-21 season despite having guided PSG to their first Champions League final in August, where they lost 1-0 to Bayern Munich.

PSG are third in Ligue 1, one point behind leaders Lyon, while Barcelona will be their last-16 opponents in the Champions League next month.

Pochettino's first game in charge will be on Wednesday, when PSG play away to Saint-Etienne in the league.

Paris Saint-Germain have appointed Mauricio Pochettino as their new head coach.

The former Tottenham boss has signed a contract until June 2022, with the option for a further year, with the Ligue 1 champions. He will replace Thomas Tuchel, whose dismissal was finally confirmed on Tuesday after days of speculation.

The German was sacked after an inconsistent start to the 2020-21 season despite having guided PSG to their first Champions League final in August, where they lost 1-0 to Bayern Munich.

Defeats in this season's group stage to Manchester United and RB Leipzig had put Tuchel under pressure, although he was able to lead his side into the last 16 after winning their final three games.

However, there were suggestions PSG's hierarchy had concerns about Tuchel's ability to guide his team past Barcelona in the knockout phase.

Four defeats in 17 Ligue 1 matches, leaving PSG a point behind leaders Lyon, also counted against Tuchel, while a public spat with sporting director Leonardo over transfers appeared to weaken his position further.

Pochettino, previously linked with the Real Madrid and Manchester United jobs, was sacked by Spurs in November last year after five impressive years in charge in north London.

Although he failed to win a trophy, the former Espanyol and Southampton boss turned Spurs into regular top-four contenders and Premier League title hopefuls, while he took them to the Champions League final in 2019, where they lost to Liverpool.

After taking charge in 2014, Pochettino led Spurs to four top-four finishes in five full seasons, twice the number they managed in their previous 22 Premier League campaigns.

He reached 100 wins in the competition in 197 games, the sixth quickest in history alongside Liverpool great Kenny Dalglish.

However, Spurs' domestic form suffered badly in 2019 as they tallied 18 defeats in all competitions from January 1 to November 19, when Pochettino was dismissed.

Pochettino has won admirers throughout his coaching career for getting his teams to adopt high-pressing and attacking football, qualities which have become demands of PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi in recent seasons.

When Tuchel was appointed in 2018, Al-Khelaifi said: "He abides by very strong principles of playing spectacular and clinical football that has always been the foundation of German football, especially on the international scene.

"His competitive spirit, his preference for attacking football and his strong character are in line with what we have always wanted for PSG - this style that our loyal supporters have always demanded and admired."

A sliding doors moment kept Mauricio Pochettino and Lionel Messi apart in 2005. But 15 years later, their paths could well realign at Paris Saint-Germain.

Back when Messi was in the embryonic stages of a Barcelona career that has seen him win six Ballons d'Or, 34 trophies and score a world record 644 goals for a single club, a temporary switch to cross-town rivals Espanyol was mooted.

There he would have linked up with an uncompromising defender by the name of Pochettino, and the subsequent decade and a half could have turned out very differently.

"I remember that summer, he was so close to moving to Espanyol," Pochettino said ahead of Tottenham facing Messi's Barcelona at Wembley in a Champions League clash in October 2018.

"If he did, maybe he could have been the biggest star in Espanyol. We should be the Barcelona! He would have been my team-mate and maybe I would still be in Espanyol managing him."

It only would have been a loan move, but an 18-year-old Messi convinced Barca he was ready for a more prominent role in the team by producing a stunning display in a victory over Juventus in the Joan Gamper Trophy.

Fabio Capello was in the opposition dugout at Camp Nou and after 25 awestruck minutes, he approached his counterpart Frank Rijkaard to ask if he could take the Argentine wonderkid on a temporary deal.

Barca finally realised they had a generational talent on their hands and opted against letting him go.

"I'd started to hear about Messi when I was an Espanyol player – this small guy playing in the Barcelona academy, who had arrived from Argentina when he was 13," Pochettino said.

"And then I heard he was very close to signing for Espanyol. But because he was so fantastic in the Joan Gamper against Juventus and Fabio Capello praised him afterwards in the press conference, Barcelona changed their minds. They kept Messi at Barcelona."

2030 vision

Messi began his youth career with Newell's Old Boys in 1994 – the same year Pochettino left the club for his first stint with Espanyol – and has often been linked with a return to the Rosario side to end his playing career.

Pochettino has been out of work since being sacked by Tottenham in November 2019 and was reportedly approached by Barcelona to replace Ernesto Valverde two months later, but his request for more time to consider the offer due to his loyalties to Espanyol resulted in Quique Setien getting the job instead.

Still, Pochettino retained hope that he will still have an opportunity to join forces Messi.

"I want to return to Newell's with Messi," he told Radio del Plata last March. "I can still wait, [for an opportunity] and the best [possible scenario] would be in 10 years with Messi."

But with PSG's decision-makers showing minimal festive cheers by firing Thomas Tuchel on Tuesday, Pochettino has been gifted a potential opportunity to work with Messi far sooner.

Pochettino was on Saturday named as the successor to Tuchel. Sporting director Leonardo and president Nasser Al Khelaifi will no doubt hope his appointment helps tempt Messi to forego a reunion with Pep Guardiola at Manchester City and relocate to Paris when his Barcelona contract expires at the end of the season.

"He's one of the gods of football"

Pochettino may not have won a trophy with Tottenham, but he led them to four straight top-four finishes in the Premier League.

His crowning achievement was steering them to the 2019 Champions League final, which ended in a 2-0 defeat to Liverpool.

Spurs finished behind Barcelona in the group stage that season. Messi scored a double in a 4-2 win for the Blaugrana at Wembley, while a 1-1 draw at Camp Nou saw Pochettino's men edge Inter to the runners-up spot in Group B.

After Spurs lost the first leg of their semi-final to Ajax 1-0, Pochettino urged his team to play like Messi during the second leg in order to have another chance of taking on the Barcelona captain in the final.

"He's one of the gods of football. It's unbelievable, it's unbelievable. It's unbelievable, the desire and the capacity to fight with the ball at his feet, to fight without the ball at his feet," said Pochettino.

"What happens when he touches the ball? When he doesn't have the ball, it's unbelievable the character, how he presses, how he works for the team. If we play like him, for sure we are going to have a chance. Of course.

"But not like him doing what he does with the ball. If we play like him without the ball, with the desire that he showed, for sure we are going to have a chance to qualify for the final. If not no chance."

Should Pochettino's desire to work with "one of the gods of football" at long last become reality, together they will be expected to help PSG finally conquer their Mount Olympus: winning the Champions League.

Paris Saint-Germain have appointed Mauricio Pochettino as their new head coach.

 

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