Mauricio Pochettino insists Kylian Mbappe is not a difficult player to coach and believes the Paris Saint-Germain and France forward will learn to "manage himself" as he matures.

Pochettino spent 18 months working with Mbappe before leaving the Parc des Princes in July, leading the Parisian giants to the Ligue 1 title and the Coupe de France.  

However, much of Pochettino's time at PSG was marred by reports of rifts between high-profile players, while some claiming the club gave Mbappe excessive influence over their strategy when he rejected a move to Real Madrid to sign a new three-year contract in May.

Asked whether managing Mbappe had been challenging, Pochettino told the BBC: "He's 23 and already won the World Cup, he's an amazing talent. 

"The problem is sometimes you need to manage yourself because we are talking about a top three, top five best player in the world.

"It's not easy for him to manage himself because he's not mature enough, he's still a child. 

"But I think he's doing well. Sometimes people talk too much, but I don't think it's like this."

The prolific Mbappe scored a sublime double in France's 3-0 World Cup round of 16 win over Poland on Sunday and is leading the race for the Golden Boot with five goals.

Mbappe recorded 60 goal contributions in 46 appearances under Pochettino last season (39 goals, 21 assists) – more than any other player in Europe's top five leagues.

 

Jude Bellingham is expected to leave Borussia Dortmund at the end of this season, with numerous clubs lining up to sign him.

The England international, who has impressed during the World Cup, is contracted with Dortmund until 2025.

It has been speculated that Bellingham will cost English clubs more than £100million to fund the deal.

TOP STORY – CITY TO USE GREALISH IN DEAL FOR BELLINGHAM

Manchester City will dangle Jack Grealish to Borussia Dortmund as part of a deal to land Bellingham, claims Football Insider.

Grealish, who City signed for £100m from Aston Villa 18 months ago, has not fully convinced since his switch to the English champions.

According to the report, City are intensifying their interest in Bellingham and are willing to use Grealish.

Le10Sport have also reported French powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain are also interested in 19-year-old Bellingham.

 

ROUND-UP

Liverpool are plotting a surprise move for Juventus forward Dusan Vlahovic, reports Calciomercato. The Serbian striker has scored six Serie A goals this term.

– Mundo Deportivo reports Borussia Dortmund's Thomas Meunier is willing to listen to offers from Milan, Juventus, Manchester United and two other Premier League clubs if Barcelona do not bid for him.

– Atletico Madrid forward Joao Felix is open to a Premier League switch amid interest from Chelsea, claims GiveMeSport transfer expert Dean Jones.

– Calciomercato reports that Arsenal are interested in a January move for Real Madrid's Marco Asensio.

Leeds United are interested in a January move for Newcastle forward Chris Wood, claims Football Insider. Wood left Leeds for Burnley in 2017.

Once every four years players from across the globe get a chance to perform on the world stage and force their way into the football zeitgeist.

Whether it is a young midfielder from Ghana who has been battling injuries the past couple of seasons, or a mercurial Dutch forward trying to push his way out of the Eredivisie, it is the perfect launchpad to alter the course of a player's career.

Stats Perform has identified four players who have lit up Qatar and, in turn, have seen their profile and transfer stock skyrocket, opening the door to a new world of possibilities come the January transfer window.

Take a look at these young leading lights...

Cody Gakpo, the Netherlands

Cody Gakpo has perhaps been the breakout star of the tournament, finding the back of the net in all three of the Netherlands' group matches.

Having spent his entire career with PSV, the 23-year-old six-foot-four forward took a huge step forward in the 2021-22 season when he shattered his best goal return, following up his 11 goals in the 2020-21 campaign with 21 last time out.

While those in the Netherlands set-up were waiting to see if he could replicate his terrific 12 months, he has taken another leap, with 12 goals and 14 assists in 19 combined Eredivisie and Europa League contests this term.

There were rumours in the most recent transfer window that Leeds United were among the clubs looking to lure Gakpo away from PSV for a fee in the range of €30million, but he opted to reject their contract offer in the hope of landing at one of Europe's biggest clubs.

That bet on himself has proven to be a masterstroke, with his performances on the Qatar stage well and truly putting him on the radar of Champions League sides including Real Madrid, Liverpool and Bayern Munich, per Dutch journalist Marco Timmer.

He became the first player from any European nation since 2002 to score in each group match, while he also became only the second player to put his side 1-0 up in all three group fixtures.

Enzo Fernandez, Argentina

Just over six months ago, Enzo Fernandez was playing for River Plate back in Argentina, but just half a season after arriving at Benfica for a deal worth up to €18m, the attacking midfielder could be moving on to greener pastures.

Fernandez, 21, broke into the Argentina squad while still with River Plate, but did not receive his senior debut until September 24 this year.

His lead-up to the World Cup was strong enough to book his ticket to Qatar, and after coming off the bench in Argentina's first group-stage loss to Saudi Arabia, he came on and scored against Mexico, forcing his way into the starting XI before contributing an assist against Poland.

His rapid rise has not gone unnoticed, and Marca is reporting Benfica have slapped a €100m fee on their new star if any team wants to pry him away while his contract still has another four seasons locked in.

Real Madrid are one side said to be accepting of that figure, with Marca claiming they now view him as an alternative option to Borussia Dortmund and England prodigy Jude Bellingham.

Mohammed Kudus, Ghana

Ajax's Mohammed Kudus had begun to break out at the club level this season heading into the World Cup.

The 22-year-old central midfielder scored four goals – including one each against Liverpool and Napoli – while adding two assists in six Champions League fixtures.

After being awarded his first senior international cap for Ghana back in 2019, he was spotted at Danish side Nordsjaelland and brought over to Ajax for a €9m fee in 2020.

He missed extended stretches of both the 2020-21 and 2021-22 campaigns through injuries, and still has not been used as a guaranteed starter this season, but his emergence on the World Cup stage has been undeniable.

Against South Korea, Kudus delivered Ghana their only win of the group as he found the back of the net twice in a 3-2 triumph, and it was a performance that is said to have caught the eye of European powerhouses.

Fichajes named Liverpool, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain as interested parties, and Sports Illustrated believe his price will be around £90m.

 

Harry Souttar, Australia

Australia have now qualified for five World Cups in a row, but after not winning a game at both the 2014 and 2018 editions, they had centre-back Harry Souttar to thank for finally taking three points against Tunisia.

Souttar, 24, stands at a towering six-foot-six and showed off an impressive ability to cover ground in a hurry when he was called upon for a potentially game-saving, last-man challenge to defend Australia's 1-0 lead.

It was one of the most spectacular defensive efforts of the tournament so far and one that will go down in Australian football folklore, and it is even more significant when taking into account his recent history.

Tipped as a potential £20m transfer target late in 2021, Souttar then tore his ACL and missed 12 months of action, returning to the field in time to get three games under his belt with Stoke City before jetting off to the World Cup.

While he could be forgiven for needing time to work his way into form, he has instead started all three group games and been the Socceroos' top performer, including his stellar efforts in a second clean sheet against Denmark to help his side through to the knockout stage.

Clearly back to the player he was before his injury – at least – Souttar's showings on the world stage have been the kind that can take a career to a new level.

Lionel Messi will walk out the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium tunnel on Saturday with the expectations of millions on his shoulders when Argentina face Australia in the last 16 of Qatar 2022.

That is nothing new, of course, for this will be the 1,000th match of a remarkable career that may yet to have peaked – though that will depend on whether Messi can inspire his country past Australia and all the way to World Cup glory.

Now aged 35, Messi has already accepted this will be his final chance to lift the most famous trophy of them all, a little over a year on from helping La Albiceleste end their 28-year wait for a major title with Copa America success.

Ahead of the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner's milestone match, Stats Perform looks at the numbers behind his previous 999 appearances for club and country – and why the next two weeks could yet define his career.

Barca Breakthrough

October 16, 2004. It would not be hyperbolic to suggest this was a day that football as we know it changed, with a 17-year-old Messi replacing Deco from the substitutes' bench in Barcelona's 1-0 win over city rivals Espanyol.

In a sign of the mini maestro's longevity, he has since played alongside two players born after his Barcelona debut – Warren Zaire-Emery and El Chadaille Bitshiabu, born in March 2006 and May 2005 respectively.

Both teenagers are on Paris Saint-Germain's books, where Messi is now plying his trade after ending his two-decade association with Barcelona in emotional circumstances in August 2021.

Unsurprisingly, the majority of Messi's career appearances came during his 17 seasons at Camp Nou. He featured 778 times for Barca, scoring a staggering 672 goals and assisting 265, which amounts to 937 direct-goal involvements.

He made more appearances against Real Madrid than any other opponent, playing 47 times against Barca's fiercest rivals.

 

Good times under Guardiola

Barcelona's inability to offer Messi a new contract due to their dire financial situation allowed PSG to pounce. After an underwhelming first campaign in Paris, the superstar forward has found his form this term.

Messi has featured 53 times for the Parisians to date and has scored (23) and assisted (28) a combined 51 goals – just short of one goal involvement every match on average.

He has already had two different managers at the Parc des Princes, with Christophe Galtier having replaced Mauricio Pochettino in the hot seat. That takes the number of head coaches Messi has worked under to 19.

It was under Pep Guardiola at Barcelona, between 2008 and 2012, that Messi played his most games as he featured on 219 occasions under the Catalan and scored 211 times.

Luis Enrique is next on that list (158 games), followed by Ernesto Valverde (124) and Frank Rijkaard (110), the man who gave him his debut against Espanyol.


1,000 not out

Some 18 years and 48 days on from that first appearance comes match number 1,000 for club and country – and what a truly huge occasion it is for Messi and Argentina, who recovered from a slow start in the group phase to advance.

Messi has featured in 22 previous World Cup matches – one more than Diego Maradona as the most ever for an Argentina player – scoring eight times and assisting six more. 

Incredibly for a player of his game-changing quality, Messi has yet to score in the knockout stages of the World Cup – 23 efforts, zero goals. Interestingly, the same is also true of archenemy Cristiano Ronaldo (25 shots without a goal).

 

The aim for Messi will be to put that right against Australia on what will be his 169th senior cap, 17 years on from his senior international bow against Hungary, which came just 10 games into his career for club and country.

And while it will be a special occasion for Messi, the man many consider to be the greatest of all time will hope to make it to 1,003 matches before Argentina's Qatar campaign concludes.

Should that be the case and Argentina go on to lift the World Cup for the first time since 1986, a centre-stage Messi will have the defining moment of a truly special career that still has some way to go yet.

Atletico Madrid are reportedly ready to part ways with their club-record signing, setting a €100million asking price for Portuguese forward Joao Felix.

Felix, 23, was purchased from Benfica back in 2019 for a fee of €126m – shattering their transfer record by more than €50m.

He helped Atletico to a LaLiga title in the 2020-21 season, before being named the club's Player of the Season for the 2021-22 campaign, but he has now fallen out of favour, starting just five of his side's 14 league games.

Felix has been able to put himself in the shop window during his two starts to begin Portugal's World Cup group stage, including a goal against Ghana, and now Champions League contenders are expected to come calling in January.

 

TOP STORY – PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN NAMED AS ONE OF THREE SUITORS FOR FELIX

Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Manchester United have been named the main interested parties by Spanish publication AS.

The report states Felix's relationship with head coach Diego Simeone has become too strained to continue persisting, and includes a claim that Atletico rejected a €130m offer from United before the season.

With his contract tying him to the club until 2026, there will be no need to settle for an offer deemed unsatisfactory, but AS believes anything approaching that €100m figure – including bonuses – will be enough to get a deal done.

 

ROUND-UP

– Sport is reporting Barcelona view 32-year-old Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan as a potential replacement for Sergio Busquets when the German international's contract expires after the season.

– According to Express, Saudi Arabian clubs Al Hilal and Al-Nassr are considered the leading candidates to fight it out for ex-United superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.

Paris Saint-Germain will offer Lionel Messi a new contract at the conclusion of the World Cup, according to Goal.

Chelsea and Newcastle United are competing to land 18-year-old Vasco da Gama midfielder Andrey Santos, per 90min.

– Gazzetta dello Sport is reporting Milan would like to bring in Chelsea winger Hakim Ziyech on a loan deal with the option to make it permanent, but the Moroccan's contract demands could be too expensive.

Nuno Mendes looks set to miss the rest of the World Cup but will stay with Portugal in Qatar, coach Fernando Santos has announced.

The Paris Saint-Germain left-back seemed set to be an important member of the Portugal team in Qatar, but a thigh injury has scuppered hopes of being a fixture in the side.

Mendes was not involved in the opening 3-2 win against Ghana but started against Uruguay on Monday, only to be substituted just 42 minutes into that game and replaced by Borussia Dortmund's Raphael Guerreiro.

He left the field in tears, and that seems likely to be his only involvement in the tournament, with Guerreiro the obvious choice to be Portugal's starter at left-back against South Korea on Friday and thereafter, with the team's place in the knockout stage secured.

The 20-year-old was also troubled by a thigh problem in the weeks leading up to the tournament but returned to the PSG starting line-up for two games before joining up with his national side.

Santos said: "He will continue to stay with us here in Qatar because that's what the players wanted. The club allowed him to come here because it was important to him.

"He wanted to stay here with us, this really reflects the spirit of the team and how united we all are.

"I feel sad about those who won't be able to play, but it has to encourage me and the other players, because we have to make up for those who aren't there."

A statement from the Portuguese federation, the FPF, read: "The international Nuno Mendes, after carrying out tests, was considered unavailable for the work of the national team by the health and performance unit of the FPF. 

"The player suffered a muscle injury in his left thigh during the game between Portugal and Uruguay. Nuno Mendes will remain part of the national delegation in Qatar, where he will begin the recovery work."

Lionel Messi is destined to return to Barcelona one day as the player and club "deserve one last dance together", according to the Catalan giants' sporting director Jordi Cruyff.

Paris Saint-Germain star Messi's 21-year association with Barca came to an end in August 2021 as the club could not afford a new deal under LaLiga's financial fair play rules.

Messi is now into his second season with PSG, but he is out of contract at the end of the campaign and has been linked with a move to Major League Soccer side Inter Miami.

The seven-time Ballon d'Or winner turns 36 next year and Cruyff hopes to see him back at Camp Nou in the future, though accepts that it may not be in a playing capacity.

"It's clear Barcelona and Messi have to be together again one day," Cruyff told RAC1. "It may be after his career, but they deserve a final hug, one last dance together."

Messi scored 672 goals across 778 appearances for Barcelona and provided a further 265 assists, amounting to 937 goal involvements across that trophy-laden spell.

 

He featured more times (219) and scored more goals (211) under Pep Guardiola than any other head coach, with the Catalan winning 14 trophies in four seasons at the helm.

Guardiola has since spent three seasons with Bayern Munich and is into his seventh season with Manchester City, where he remains under contract until July 2025.

Speaking this week, Guardiola said he would return to Barcelona one day if the club needed him, adding that "nothing is comparable" to managing a club so close to your heart.

Asked about the possibility of Guardiola managing the Blaugrana again further down the line, Cruyff said: "He's reached the level of being able to choose his own destiny.

"Not many have reached that point; it's the dream of every professional. Whether he returns or not, I have no idea. I think he's happy at City."

Real Madrid have reportedly pivoted away from Borussia Dortmund's Jude Bellingham and are now treating Benfica's Enzo Fernandez as their top transfer target.

Bellingham, 19, was considered the top priority for the Spanish giants, but a report from Marca claims they now believe he is destined for the Premier League and will instead focus their resources on 21-year-old Fernandez.

Fernandez arrived at Benfica in June after they were able to pry him away from River Plate for a deal worth up to €18million including add-ons, but his exploits on the Champions League stage – including assists against Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus – have that price looking like a steal.

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID SET THEIR SIGHTS ON ARGENTINA'S NEW STAR

Fernandez was handed his international debut as a 20-year-old back in November 2021, and his continued growth on the European stage earned his spot in Argentina's World Cup squad.

Not content to purely come along for the ride, Fernandez was brought on as a substitute in each of his side's first two group games, and against Mexico he became Argentina's youngest goalscorer at a World Cup since Lionel Messi in 2006.

His ability to both break into and perform for such a quality international side – entering the tournament on a 35-match unbeaten streak before falling to Saudi Arabia – has reportedly sent Fernandez's transfer value through the roof.

Marca's report claims he is now viewed as a €100m talent by Benfica, and they expect to field offers in that neighbourhood soon.

 

ROUND-UP

– According to Relevo, Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag views the Netherlands' World Cup hero Cody Gakpo as his ideal replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo.

– Fichajes is reporting Liverpool, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain are all showing interest in 22-year-old Ajax midfielder Mohammed Kudus amid his excellent performances for Ghana.

Bayern Munich remain interested in Tottenham's Harry Kane and are working on an offer between €80-100m, per Sky Sports Germany.

– The Sun is reporting Chelsea are not happy with both Edouard Mendy and Kepa Arrizabalaga and will look to bring in a new first-choice goalkeeper.

– With Rafael Leao likely leaving Milan at the end of the season, Gazzetta dello Sport claims they will try to fill the void with RB Salzburg's 22-year-old Swiss international Noah Okafor.

Christopher Nkunku has long been inked with Chelsea, with reports he had undergone a medical in September.

The 25-year-old Frenchman netted 20 goals in the Bundesliga last season and already has 12 this term.

The Blues are undergoing a period of change under owner Todd Boehly and new head coach Graham Potter – and could be about to land a big-name target.

 

TOP STORY - NKUNKU'S CHELSEA DEAL SET TO BE SIGNED

Chelsea are on the cusp of finalising the deal for RB Leipzig forward Nkunku with contracts set to be signed, reports Fabrizio Romano.

The Blues have reached an agreement with Nkunku's German club Leipzig for more than £52million (€60m).

Nkunku, who was ruled out of the World Cup earlier this month due to a knee injury, will apparently pen a long-term deal starting from June 2023.

ROUND-UP

- ESPN has reported that  Lionel Messi has not agreed to a deal to join Inter Miami from Paris Saint-Germain following reports that he is on the verge of a deal with the Major League Soccer club.

Chelsea are reportedly not willing to let Christian Pulisic depart on loan in January, amid links with Premier League trio Manchester United, Newcastle United and Arsenal. The Blues would prefer a permanent deal for the United States international.

- Sky Sport's Florian Plettenberg claims RB Leipzig's Konrad Laimer has reached a verbal agreement to join Bayern Munich at the end of this season, with a view to a long-term deal until 2027.

Edin Dzeko is set to earn a new one-year deal with Inter, according to Gazzetta. But the 36-year-old must accept a pay cut, from about €5.5m to €3m per season (plus bonuses).

- Ecuador international midfielder Moises Caicedo, who is currently on Brighton and Hove Albion's books, is drawing interest from Manchester United, claims Sky Germany.

- Fabrizio Romano reports Brighton are in talks with Molde to sign 19-year-old Ivorian striker David Datro Fofana. The Norwegian club want more than €10m (£8.6m) for him.

Lionel Messi is not in negotiations to seal a move to Major League Soccer side Inter Miami at the end of the season, the Paris Saint-German forward's representative has declared.

Reports broke on Sunday that claimed the Argentina superstar was close to an agreement that would see him move to the United States after his contract with PSG expires next year.

Such a move would provide a huge boost to the sport in North America ahead of the World Cup in 2026, which will be held in the USA, Canada and Mexico, with Messi previously indicating a desire to play in MLS.

However, his representative Marcelo Mendez has dubbed the reports as "fake news" and made it clear discussions are not taking place.

"It's false, it's fake news. There is no negotiation for Lionel to join Inter Miami next season," Mendez told CNN.

Messi is currently focused on leading Argentina to glory in the World Cup, having scored in both of his side's matches so far – including the opening goal in the crucial victory over Mexico on Saturday.

Argentina meet Poland on Wednesday, where victory will secure a spot in the knockout stage. A draw would also be enough if Saudi Arabia and Mexico finishes level in the other Group C match.

Lionel Messi has been linked with a blockbuster move to MLS club Inter Miami.

The Times report that the US franchise, co-owned by David Beckham, are ready to make Messi the highest-paid player in MLS history.

Messi is out of contract at Paris Saint-Germain at the end of the season and has also been linked with a move to his former club Barcelona.

 

TOP STORY - MESSI AND BUSQUETS COULD BE BOUND FOR MIAMI

Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets is set to join ex-team-mate Lionel Messi at MLS club Inter Miami, according to Cope.

The 34-year-old Spain captain is out of contract at the end of this season and has been weighing up his future at Camp Nou.

Messi and Busquets spent more than a decade together at the Blaugrana and could re-unite in Florida, where the Argentina great regularly vacations at a house he owns.

ROUND-UP

- ESPN reports Manchester United are exploring a January loan move for Chelsea's Christian Pulisic. Newcastle United and Arsenal have also been linked with the United States international by the Mail.

- Chelsea have been keeping a close watch on Bayer Leverkusen's Ecuadora centre-back Piero Hincapie during the World Cup, reports the Mirror.

- Fichajes claims that Real Madrid's German midfielder Toni Kroos has rejected the chance to move to Manchester City.

- Newcastle will move for 18-year-old Vasco da Gama midfielder Andrey Santos in January, according to the Northern Echo.

- Milan are eager to discuss lowering the €22m purchase option fee for on-loan midfielder Brahim Diaz with parent club Real Madrid, reports La Gazzetta dello Sport. The Spaniard's two-year loan deal is due to expire at the end of the season.

Lionel Messi is close to an agreement to join MLS franchise Inter Miami at the end of the 2022-23 European season, according to a report in The Times.

The Argentina superstar is out of contract with Paris Saint-Germain at the end of the campaign and has been continually linked with a return to Barcelona, whom he left in 2021, but The Times reports Messi will instead move to MLS.

Inter Miami are said to be 'confident' Messi will sign following the conclusion of the World Cup in Qatar, where he has scored in both of Argentina's group stage matches, though he would not move until the conclusion of PSG's season.

Co-owned by David Beckham, Inter Miami will reportedly make Messi the highest-paid player in MLS history and they are considering further additions to complement his arrival.

Luis Suarez and Cesc Fabregas, Messi's former team-mates at Barcelona, are specifically named as options, the former having enjoyed a brief second stint Uruguayan side Nacional earlier this year while Fabregas is in the Italian second tier with Como.

A move for Messi would occur midway through the MLS season, which begins in February, and would provide a huge boost to North American soccer ahead of the World Cup in 2026, which the USA will host alongside Canada and Mexico.

Christophe Galtier believes success in the Champions League should not define his ongoing project at Paris Saint-Germain.

PSG have been dominant force in France over the past decade, winning eight Ligue 1 titles while also capturing the Coupe de France and Coupe de la Ligue on six occasions.

But the coveted Champions League crown has continued to elude Parisian giants, who came closest to landing it when they lost 1-0 to Bayern Munich in the 2020 final.

PSG will face Bayern once more in the last 16 of this season's competition, but head coach Galtier thinks his future at the club should not depend on their performances in Europe.

"There are 10 teams that every season aim to win the Champions League, and only one achieves it," he told Marca. "And then, the other nine who have not succeeded, do we have to fire their coaches? No.

"It's very difficult to win the Champions League. I'm not looking to protect myself, but the big European clubs have this goal and don't change everything because they don't win it.

"There are several examples. Atletico [Madrid] reached the final twice and when they did not win, the club continued to believe in [Diego] Simeone and his sporting project. The same goes for Pep Guardiola. [Manchester City] haven't won yet, but the club still believes in their ideas.

"I think it would be a mistake to change PSG's sports project if the Champions League is not won. I think it's a process, obviously not a 10-year one, but what shouldn't be is that if we don't win this year, we change everything."

Despite being unbeaten in six matches, PSG only advanced to the knockout stages as group runners-up for a second successive season, as Benfica snatched top spot in Group H by virtue of scoring more away goals.

Galtier's side conceded seven goals - with only RB Leipzig (nine) and Eintracht Frankfurt (eight) shipping more against the teams that progressed to the last 16 - and the head coach insists they must tighten up to embark on a long run in the competition. 

"We have conceded too many in the Champions League," he added. "Obviously, there is a difference in level between the Champions League and our championship. But if we want to go far in the Champions League, we must improve our defensive level.

"Nothing is easy in the Champions League. In addition, no one in the analysis has taken into account the difficulty of the calendar this season. It is the first time in the history of football with such a compact and difficult calendar.

"Practically every week, there were Champions League games. I think that's why some teams that normally made it past the group stage haven't. We have played in three and a half months what we normally played in four or five months."

Christophe Galtier insisted Kylian Mbappe is happy at Paris Saint-Germain, though admitted Lionel Messi's future with the French giants is undecided.

Mbappe is the leading marksman in Ligue 1 this season with 12 goals – one ahead of team-mate Neymar – while Messi tops the assists chart with 10, having also found the net seven times.

The France international was heavily linked with a free transfer to Real Madrid last season, but eventually signed a new three-year deal with the reigning Ligue 1 champions in May.

Many believed financial gain played a significant factor in Mbappe's decision, while reports have also suggested the 23-year-old has recently been reconsidering whether he wants to remain at the club.

But Galtier told Marca: "I don't think it was the money, because world-class players – whether in Spain, England or France – win it. They are not for the money. I think Kylian just loves PSG. 

"If he's happy, why shouldn't Kylian be here next season? From the moment the player enjoys on the field and feels that he is in a team that can win and that can conquer great challenges, he has no reason to leave."

Asked if he felt Mbappe was happy at PSG, Galtier added: "Yes, sure. Guaranteed."

Meanwhile, Messi's existing contract is due to expire next June, although there is the option of extending his stay in the French capital for an additional year.

"There are many parameters," Galtier said when asked what it would take for the Argentina captain to remain at the club beyond this season. 

"The first thing is their desire. Do you want to continue at PSG? Are you happy here? The first thing to know is if he wants to continue. All these types of decisions are made between the player and [football advisor] Luis Campos."

Dani Alves believes Kylian Mbappe "has still not understood" the value of playing with "geniuses" Lionel Messi and Neymar in Paris Saint-Germain's attack.

Mbappe is the leading marksman in Ligue 1 this season with 12 goals – one more than Brazil international Neymar – while he is just 11 away from breaking Edinson Cavani's club record tally of 200.

However, the France international has only registered two assists in the French top flight this term, with Messi (10) and Neymar (nine) recording 19 between them.

Alves spent two years playing alongside Mbappe and Neymar in Paris, having also previously won multiple honours alongside the latter and Messi at Barcelona.

The Brazil full-back who, at 39, was handed a chance to become his nation's oldest World Cup player, feels the 23-year-old Mbappe's goalscoring exploits would be even greater should be pass to his team-mates more often.

"Neymar and Messi are unique, they see and do things that no one else sees or can do," Alves told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "You have to be smart to take advantage of their potential, they are the two geniuses of football.

"I think I can touch the ball well, but when I was playing with Leo, I was giving him the ball. And if I play with Ney, I give him the ball. If Mbappe gave the ball to those two, he would score 150 goals [in a season].

"A great player always has to know and understand who he is playing with. Your team-mates enrich your qualities.

"Mbappe is a phenomenon who has still not understood that those who play in attack with him are more phenomenal than him."

 

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