Neymar is relishing the chance to create more happy memories at the Santiago Bernabeu after declaring himself fully fit for Paris Saint-Germain's Champions League last-16 second leg with Real Madrid.

The Brazil international spent four seasons with Madrid's bitter rivals Barcelona prior to joining PSG in 2017, winning eight trophies – including the European Cup in 2014-15 – during his time in Spain.

He has found the net three times in 11 appearances against Los Blancos with PSG and Barca, two of those goals coming at the Bernabeu, including in a 4-0 LaLiga victory for the Catalans in November 2015.

Neymar had been considered a major doubt for the first leg with Madrid three weeks ago, but he made his return from a near-three-month injury lay-off to play the final 17 minutes of his side's 1-0 victory in Paris.

Having started PSG's three league matches since then, the 30-year-old is ready to make an impact in Wednesday's return fixture in the Spanish capital.

"I feel 100 per cent fit," he said at a pre-match news conference on Tuesday. "My injury lay-off was longer than expected, and it was a very tough injury to recover from.

"But I'm 100 per cent mentally and physically ready to help the team, help my team-mates and play a great game. It's a match where you have to all be ready.

"I had targeted this fixture for my return. It's a game that the players want to play, you have to enjoy every minute of these games. These are minutes that will not be repeated. 

"I focused and I worked to help the team. I'm going to give everything and do everything tomorrow. You have to have a very strong mentality to play a great game.

"I have a lot of good memories at this ground. I have scored goals and made assists here. Playing here is always special and not just for me."

 

Neymar is not the only former Barca player set to feature at the Bernabeu, with fellow forward Lionel Messi also expected to start against a team he inflicted a number of painful defeats on across 17 years in the Blaugrana's first team.

"It's a special match for me and Lionel because we played at Barca," Neymar said. "We are motivated. We want to play well tomorrow and to make some history for PSG.

"I feel good to help PSG. We're ready to play on Wednesday. This is a very strong team in front of us, with players with a lot of quality. But we're not going to give up or hide. We're going to give everything to try to win the game.

"I'm happy to play and I'm sure my team-mates have the ambition to play on Wednesday and go home with a victory."

Kylian Mbappe's late strike at the Parc des Princes leaves PSG as slight favourites heading into the second leg, but the visitors have been eliminated from three of their eight Champions League knockout ties when winning the first leg.

Only Barcelona (four) and Madrid (six) have a worse such record, while PSG have won just one of their previous five away games against Los Blancos in European competition.

But with this year's final being switched from Saint Petersburg to the Stade de France in Paris, Neymar is extra motivated to ensure that PSG get the job done.

 

"The final being in Paris is incredible for us," said Neymar, who has provided more assists (27) than any player in UEFA's primary club competition than any other player since his debut in September 2013.

"It makes us want to reach the final even more, more than ever. But we have to start on Wednesday. We've been working for a long time and Wednesday is a step towards our goal.

"It's a match between PSG and Real, which is always 50-50. There are no favourites as they are two strong teams. We have an advantage after winning 1-0 in the first leg, but we have to think about winning and playing even better.

"We have to attack and defend together. These are things that can help us win the Champions League if we play together. If we play together, we have the possibility of winning the match, but not only that."

Cristiano Ronaldo's return to Manchester United may be coming to a premature end.

The Portuguese forward has struggled since Ralf Rangnick's arrival as interim manager in December.

United are also battling to finish in the Premier League's top four.

TOP STORY - RONALDO COURTS MOVE TO MESSI'S PSG

FootballTransfers claims that Ronaldo has decided that he will leave Manchester United if they do not qualify for the Champions League, with a move to join Lionel Messi at Paris Saint-Germain on his agenda.

Speculation about Ronaldo's future at Old Trafford ramped up after he missed Sunday's Manchester derby due to a hip flexor injury and flew to Portugal.

The report that claims that Ronaldo returning to Juventus has been ruled out, along with his original Portuguese club Sporting CP, with the five-time Ballon d'Or courting a move to Paris.

 

ROUND-UP

- Defensa Central reports that Newcastle United have commenced talks with Real Madrid over a move for 31-year-old ex-Chelsea forward Eden Hazard who has had an underwhelming spell with Los Blancos.

- Manchester United's Marcus Rashford has a list of clubs circling for his services with Arsenal, Newcastle and West Ham all interested, according to 90Min.

- The Mail claims that PSG will make a move for Rashford too, should Kylian Mbappe leave the French capital to join Madrid.

- Manchester City and Madrid are in the lead to sign Borussia Dortmund forward Erling Haaland ahead of Bayern Munich and Barcelona claims The Athletic.

- RB Leipzig midfielder Christopher Nkunku is being tracked by Chelsea and Man City according to FootMercato.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Georginio Wijnaldum only joined Paris Saint-Germain in June but is reportedly unsettled.

The 31-year-old Dutch midfielder had signed a three-year deal with the Parisians.

Wijnaldum has been linked with several clubs given his situation.

TOP STORY – VILLA PLOT WIJNALDUM MOVE

Steven Gerrard's Aston Villa are considering a move for PSG's Wijnaldum , claims Sport.

Gerrard is keeping tabs on ex-Liverpool midfielder Wijnaldum, who is reportedly ready to leave PSG whom he joined less than 12 months ago.

The Villans were quoted with a £21million price tag for Wijnaldum who is contracted until 2024.

 

ROUND-UP

- Marca claims that 35-year-old Luis Suarez will leave Atletico Madrid at the end of this season, with Inter, Ajax and Sevilla pursuing him along with unnamed Brazilian clubs.

- Newcastle United will table a £50m offer for Bayer Leverkusen's French winger Moussa Diaby,  according to the Mail. Leverkusen have set a £75m valuation for Diaby.

- PSG want to re-sign Italy international forward Moise Kean, who is currently on loan at Juventus from Everton, claims Calciomercato. Kean was on loan at PSG last season, netting 17 goals in 41 appearances.

- Football Insider reports that Arsenal are monitoring Aston Villa striker Ollie Watkins as a cut-price forward option if moves for Alexander Isak, Dominic Calvert-Lewin or Darwin Nunez fail to materialise.

Manchester United's search for a new manager continues after axing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in November.

The Red Devils are taking their time with the appointment, with Ralf Rangnick in an interim role until the end of the season.

United hope the next man in can turn their fortunes around, having struggled to be Premier League contenders since Alex Ferguson's retirement in 2013.

TOP STORY – UNITED SHORTLIST HASENHUTTL

Manchester United have added Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl to their shortlist, according to The Mirror.

PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino and Ajax’s Erik ten Hag remain the front-runners, but United face a battle to persuade either to head to Old Trafford.

Current United interim manager Ralf Rangnick worked with Hasenhuttl at RB Leipzig and the club are admirers of the Austrian.

ROUND-UP

- Atletico Madrid are considering making a move for Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum, reports Mundo Deportivo. Wijnaldum is weighing up his future at PSG despite moving to France only last year.

- Fabrizio Romano claims Chelsea's Andreas Christensen has turned down offers from other Premier League clubs and is on the verge of agreeing to a deal with Barcelona.

Lazio could make a loan move for Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, with manager Maurizio Sarri keen to be reunited with the Spain international, reports Corriere dello Sport.

- The Sun claims West Ham are plotting a move for Lille's 20-year-old midfielder Amadou Onana, who is valued at £20m by the French club.

Crystal Palace have joined the pursuit for Marseille's out-of-contract midfielder Boubacar Kamara, alongside Newcastle United and West Ham, according to the Sun.

Mauricio Pochettino has suggested Paris Saint-Germain's defeat against Nice came down to misfortune more than anything else, after Andy Delort struck late to sink the Ligue 1 leaders.

The title frontrunners came up short against Christophe Galtier's hosts at Allianz Riviera thanks to the Algerian striker's late finish.

With the suspended Kylian Mbappe's absence leaving Les Parisiens short in attack, they have now lost consecutive league games on the road for the first time since April 2019.

Pochettino admitted that his side had not done enough to claim victory, but maintained Nice had not earned their three points either, chalking it up as something of a sporting incident.

"We thought it was going to end in a draw because neither of them had done enough to win," the Argentine stated in his post-game news conference.

"We had control of the game, especially in the second half, but we took a goal in transition and we lost. There's not much to analyse. There are times when if you cannot win, you mustn't lose."

With a Champions League last-16 second leg against Real Madrid to come, Pochettino was keen to re-focus thoughts towards the future, rather than dwell on Saturday's result.

"We are preparing for a competition that everyone in Paris is waiting for and that everyone dreams of," he added. "Wednesday will be a different game, a different opponent, a different competition. I have no doubts that we will play the game that we have to do".

Having guided Lille to the top-tier crown last term before a shock exit, Galtier has set about returning Nice to the upper echelons of the domestic pyramid in the south of France.

His win over PSG notched his fourth consecutive clean sheet as a manager against Saturday's opponents, while match winner Delort was one of his major signings last summer.

Speaking to Canal+ after the match, the Algeria striker was quick to heap praise on his coach too, stating: "He's the best coach in Ligue 1 and I hope he'll stay with us for a long time."

Paris Saint-Germain will be without the suspended Kylian Mbappe against Nice, but Mauricio Pochettino knows his side should not rely on individual performances from one of the world's best players.

PSG are 15 points clear at the Ligue 1 summit ahead of a clash with third-placed Nice on Saturday, but they will not have Mbappe among their ranks.

The France international will return for the second leg of their Champions League last-16 clash with Real Madrid, who he has been heavily linked to when his contract expires at the end of the season.

Mbappe has dominated for PSG this season, scoring 14 times and assisting 10 goals in Ligue 1, while creating a team-leading 47 chances.

No other PSG player has more than five goals (Danilo Pereira) and only Lionel Messi has as many assists, but Pochettino insisted his side cannot continue to rely on individuals to come up with match-winning moments.

"We're talking about one of the best players in the world," Pochettino said of Mbappe's absence at Friday's pre-match news conference. 

"The psychological aspect is important for his team-mates and the opponent. But we know it can happen during a season. The important thing is that the squad believes in its collective strength. 

"We have to develop the idea that the squad isn't strong thanks to individual performances, but rather thanks to its collective strength, which is something we have to cultivate despite having players missing."

PSG's away form in the top flight has come under scrutiny this campaign, picking up 25 points on the road in comparison to 37 at home.

But Pochettino assured that his team's away challenges are normal as they prepare for a trip to Coupe de France finalists Nice, who have won just one of their last 17 top-flight meetings against PSG.

"It can happen during a season. It happens to every big club – and not only to Paris – to play less well away from home," he added. 

"There's no single factor that determines that. We try to play each game in the same way, whether it's home or away. 

"We analyse the way in which we play, looking to dominate, if there is pressure, or a difficult atmosphere in terms of the opponent.

"We also have to acknowledge the contribution of our fans, who generate an atmosphere and give energy, that has an impact, not only on our players but also it negatively affects the opposition."

Pochettino, whose side have lost just one of their last 17 league matches, will see his side take a slender 1-0 lead to Madrid on Tuesday, but his focus remains on one game at a time.

"We have to be focused on the match against Nice and find the right tactics to win," he continued. 

"For the second leg, there will be players missing in Madrid. As for us, we'll see after Saturday's game which players are available. We'll see which is the best team to play Real after the Nice match. 

"We have to be competitive and focused on Saturday's game, out of respect for the competition and for Nice. The best means of preparing for big Champions League matches is to be focused all the time."

Leonardo says Mauricio Pochettino has "never asked to leave" Paris Saint-Germain despite links to Manchester United.

Meanwhile, the PSG sporting director also suggested that signing injury-hit defender Sergio Ramos may have been a "mistake".

Pochettino joined PSG in January 2021 and is likely to add this season's Ligue 1 title to the Coupe de France he won last campaign, with his star-studded side opening up a 15-point lead at the top of the table.

However, rumours have continually linked Pochettino to the Old Trafford hot-seat, which caretaker boss Ralf Rangnick is set to vacate at the end of this season, and the PSG coach is said to have long-term admirers within the United hierarchy.

United's football director John Murtough this week said that a "thorough process" to appoint a new manager was underway, but Leonardo insists Pochettino has never voiced a desire to leave the French capital, and that there has not been any contact with rumoured replacement Zinedine Zidane.

"Honestly, we haven't thought about a coaching change," Leonardo told L'Equipe. "[Pochettino] has a year left on his contract.

"We've never contacted Zidane or anyone else. Before he came here, Pochettino was among the best five coaches, and he still is. 

"He may have had moments of doubt, but he's never asked to leave."

Leonardo was also asked about the condition of Ramos, who has been limited to just four Ligue 1 appearances since joining from Real Madrid due to injury.

 

While Leonardo refused to say Ramos' playing career could be over, he expressed regret about the persistent injury woes suffered by the 35-year-old and appeared to hint that his signing may have been a "mistake".

"He was well physically when we signed him," he said of the former Madrid captain.

"Up to now he has played five games [in all competitions]. Unfortunately, it has not happened as we imagined. It's hard for him, for everyone, but our reports are clear. 

"The day it is said he can't play any more, it will be clear for everyone. But it's not the case.

"Not playing makes it difficult for him to be a leader, but we will wait before drawing conclusions; the season is not over. 

"But I'm not afraid to own up to mistakes when I make them."

Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo has promised every effort is being made to persuade Kylian Mbappe to sign a new contract.

Mbappe, whose 14 Ligue 1 goals this term make him the Parisians' top scorer, has been strongly linked with a move to Real Madrid when his current deal ends in June.

Madrid have made no secret of their interest, with LaLiga president Javier Tebas recently stating his confidence that the French World Cup winner would move to Spain.

However, recent speculation has focused on whether Mbappe could yet be convinced to remain in the French capital, and he scored a superb solo goal against Madrid last month to put PSG ahead in the two-leg Champions League tie against his would-be suitors.

Speaking to L'Equipe, Leonardo said PSG would "try everything" to keep the 23-year-old, claiming money was not the key factor in negotiations.

"We have a possibility [to keep Mbappe]," former Brazil star Leonardo said. "As long as there is no signature [with another club], we will try everything, we will do everything possible to retain him.

"We did not send a specific offer. There is an important element: I think the last thing we will put into this contract will be the amount of money. It's not about that. We want to put him in the best condition so that he becomes the best player possible."

Mbappe netted twice in PSG's 3-1 win over Saint-Etienne last time out to move level with Zlatan Ibrahimovic's tally of 156 goals for the club, placing him joint-second in the Parisian giants' all-time goalscoring charts behind Edinson Cavani, who scored 200 times for the club.

 

Mbappe is also the only player in the French top flight to have hit double figures for both goals and assists this season, and Leonardo says that means he has now joined team-mate Lionel Messi among the finest players on the planet.

"Kylian is the best player in the world today," Leonardo said. "Messi has always been at this level, and for me he still is, but it's normal that others arrive.

"It's not a case of judging who is best. One is 23 years old, and the other is 34."

Mbappe's tally of 10 league assists this campaign places him level with Messi as French football's most creative forces, and the duo have helped the champions-elect on a run that has included just one loss in their last 17 Ligue 1 outings.

Manchester United's search for a permanent manager continues to take up plenty of column inches, with a new name now entering the mix.

Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino and Ajax chief Erik ten Hag have long been considered the two frontrunners to take over at Old Trafford.

But a somewhat surprise candidate is now reportedly being considered to succeed interim manager Ralf Rangnick on a short-term basis at the end of the campaign.


TOP STORY – ANCELOTTI A CONTENDER FOR UNITED

According to ESPN, United may look to appoint Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti as they explore contingency plans in their pursuit of a new manager.

While Pochettino and Ten Hag remain on the Red Devils' managerial shortlist, Ancelotti is said to be seen as an ideal short-term fix thanks to his vast experience.

The Italian has previously spent time in English football with Everton and Chelsea, winning a Premier League and FA Cup with the latter in 2009-10.

Ancelotti is currently in his second spell with Madrid and has another two seasons to run on his contract at the Santiago Bernabeu.


ROUND-UP

- PSG have offered Kylian Mbappe a contract worth €50million a year to fend off interest from rival clubs, according to Le Parisian. Madrid are the strong favourites to sign the France international should he depart the Parc des Princes as a free agent in July.

- Andreas Christensen and Cesar Azpilicueta are also set to be out of contract at Chelsea in the next few months and are not short of potential suitors. Mundo Deportivo reports that Barcelona are confident of signing the pair, while Ajax's Noussair Mazraoui and Jose Gaya of Valencia are also targets.

- Madrid are hoping to replace Dani Carvajal at right-back ahead of next season and have a few potential options already lined up. That is according to El Nacional, with Man Utd's Diogo Dalot, Norwich City's Max Aarons and Pedro Porro of Sporting CP all mentioned.

- Sport claims that Barcelona are on course to wrap up contract extensions for Ronald Araujo and Gavi before the end of the month. Rising star Gavi will supposedly be offered a five-year deal that will include a mammoth release clause to ensure he stays at Camp Nou for the long term.

- Former Germany international Julian Weigl is nearing the end of his time at Benfica and has been offered to teams across the continent, according to Calciomercato. The Italian outlet suggests than Milan would prefer to sign Renato Sanches, potentially giving Roma a clear run for the €35m-rated midfielder.

Chelsea have enjoyed an unrivalled period of success across Roman Abramovich's near two decades as owner at Stamford Bridge.

From their five Premier Leagues and two Champions Leagues, plus last month's Club World Cup triumph, the Blues have won it all under the Russian billionaire.

But amid mounting political pressure following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Abramovich is reportedly open to selling Chelsea for the first time.


TOP STORY – THREE PARTIES INTERESTED IN BLUES 

According to The Telegraph, at least three parties are circling Chelsea in the belief that Abramovich is ready to walk away.

Abramovich announced on Saturday, a day before the Blues' EFL Cup final loss to Liverpool, that he is taking a step back from his duties as owner.

The report indicates that Chelsea are bracing themselves for bids as early as this week as a changing of the guard at Stamford Bridge becomes a realistic possibility.


ROUND-UP

- Manchester City have ramped up their interest in Borussia Dortmund's in-demand striker Erling Haaland, according to The Express. City chief Txiki Begiristain is said to have recently met with agent Mino Raiola to discuss the signing of Haaland.

- Ralf Rangnick has been ruled out of the running to become Manchester United's next permanent boss. The Sun claims that Mauricio Pochettino and Erik ten Hag, in charge of Paris Saint-Germain and Ajax respectively, are the two men being considered.

- Sky Sports News reports that Antonio Rudiger's representatives remain in constant dialogue with Real Madrid and PSG over an end-of-season transfer. Chelsea want to keep hold of the defender, but they have been unable to agree fresh terms. 

- According to football.london, Arsenal are eager to reward Bukayo Saka with a new deal at the end of the campaign. The England international is already under contract at Emirates Stadium until July 2024.

- Atletico Madrid midfielder Hector Herrera will see out the remainder of the 2021-22 LaLiga campaign before making the switch to Houston Dynamo in MLS, Fabrizio Romano suggests. Herrera has made 14 appearances this term and is a regular for Mexico.

Kylian Mbappe is widely expected to join Real Madrid at the end of this season.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward is out of contract and has not renewed with the French giants.

Madrid have long admired Mbappe and attempted an audacious bid to sign him in August.

TOP STORY – PSG STEP UP MBAPPE RENEWAL BID

Paris Saint-Germain are ramping up their efforts to convince Mbappe to renew with the club, reports Marca.

Mbappe has previously hinted he will join Madrid at the end of this season when his PSG contract expires.

PSG are pulling out all the stops to persuade Mbappe, who has been with the club since 2017.

 

ROUND-UP

- MLS club LA Galaxy have enquired about PSG defender Sergio Ramos according to Footmercato. Ramos has made five appearances for PSG since his off-season move and may be available on a free transfer.

- Manchester United are not willing to match Napoli's eye-watering £100m price tag for Nigerian striker Victor Osimhen reports the Daily Star.

- Gazzetta dello Sport reports that Juventus are hopeful that they can retain Spanish forward Alvaro Morata, who is on loan from Atletico Madrid.

- Juventus are also in front in the race to sign Roma winger Nicolo Zaniolo, who is yet to recommit to the Giallorossi, claims Gazzetta dello Sport.

- Fulham want to sign ex-Manchester City and Liverpool forward Mario Balotelli if they win promotion back to the Premier League, claims Turkish outfit Star. Balotelli currently plays his football in Turkey with Adana Demirspor, with good form prompting an Italy recall.

Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino is perplexed there is any debate about Lionel Messi's effectiveness for the club this season after his starring role in the 3-1 win over Saint-Etienne on Saturday.

The former Barcelona forward did not get on the scoresheet, but he was instrumental in his side fighting back from Denis Bouanga's early opener for Saint-Etienne at the Parc des Princes.

Messi teed up both of Kylian Mbappe's strikes either side of half-time, the second of which came after some superb skill to round two Saint-Etienne players.

He has now racked up six assists since the turn of the year – more than any other player in the top five European leagues.

His two assists on Saturday means he has laid on four goals for Mbappe in Ligue 1 this season, which is the highest total in the competition from one player to another.

Messi has been criticised for his poor goalscoring return this campaign, with just seven across all competitions, but Pochettino is in doubt about the 34-year-old's quality.

"I can't understand how there can be a debate about Messi because he is exceptional," he told Canal+. "No, there is no debate. It's impossible. 

"Messi is incredible, magnificent. He played very well and the only thing he was missing was a goal."

 

Mbappe's second goal moved him level with Zlatan Ibrahimovic as PSG's second all-time top goalscorer on 156 goals, while he became the first player in Ligue 1 this season to reach double figures for goals and assists (14 goals, 10 assists).

Pochettino was full of praise for the forward's display and insisted he has not sustained an injury despite appearing to hold his right thigh late in the first half.  

"Kylian is fine," Pochettino added. "He had no problem. He is suspended against Nice [next Saturday] and will be able to work for a week. He will be ready to start in Madrid [for the Champions League last-16 second leg against Real Madrid on March 9].

"We are very happy with him, that he is with us. I'm proud of him. It's amazing, wonderful.

"I'm very happy because we finish the matches very well. We played the second half the way we wanted to play. Kylian is a fantastic player. Lionel and Neymar were also important for us."

PSG have now won five of their last six Ligue 1 matches after a run of just one victory in their previous five, and Pochettino believes his side are slowly moving in the right direction.

"There is progress, small steps," he added. "I'm happy with that. This is how you have to improve. The team is gaining confidence when we were still trailing. The team gains tactical richness."

Kylian Mbappe moved level with Zlatan Ibrahimovic as Paris Saint-Germain's second all-time top goalscorer after he struck a brace in Saturday's 3-1 win over Saint-Etienne.

Mauricio Pochettino's side suffered a 3-1 defeat to Nantes in their previous top-flight game last weekend and they looked like they might be on the end of another surprise loss when Denis Bouanga put the visitors ahead early on.

However, goals either side of half-time from Mbappe – the second of which moved him level with Ibrahimovic on 156 goals – and a third from Danilo Pereira sealed all three points at the Parc des Princes.

The result meant PSG moved 16 points clear at the Ligue 1 summit, while Saint-Etienne remained in 16th, just one point outside the relegation zone. 

Saint-Etienne were rewarded for a bright start in the 16th minute when Bouanga picked Pereira's pocket just outside the penalty area and superbly fired past Gianluigi Donnarumma from 15 yards.

Messi was the provider for PSG's leveller three minutes before half-time, the Argentina international threading a wonderful pass into Mbappe, whose powerful strike from 10 yards proved too hot for Paul Bernardoni to handle.

Those two players combined to devastating effect two minutes after the restart, Messi jinking inside two players before laying the ball into the path of Mbappe, who drilled across Bernardoni to put PSG ahead. 

Pereira made amends for his earlier error with PSG's third in the 52nd minute, the Portuguese rising high at the back post to head home Mbappe's sumptuous cross with the outside of his foot. 

Neymar and Georginio Wijnaldum both struck the post late on, yet it mattered little as PSG comfortably saw proceedings out to return to winning ways with the minimum of fuss. 
 

What does it mean? PSG maintain fine home form

This comeback win means PSG have not lost any of their past 16 home games in Ligue 1, which is the best current run in the league.

The result also stretched their unbeaten run over Saint-Etienne to 26 matches, equalling the longest unbeaten streak in their history against an opponent (also 26 against Angers, which is an ongoing run since December 1976).

Mbappe up to joint second

Mbappe is now level with Monaco's Wissam Ben Yedder at the top of the Ligue 1 scoring charts with 14 goals after his brace here. Barring injury, he will unquestionably move clear of Ibrahimovic in PSG's all-time rankings, yet whether he breaks Edinson Cavani's record of 200 goals for the club depends on whether he moves to Real Madrid at the end of the season.

Messi in generous mood

Goals have been hard to come by for Messi since his move from Barcelona, but he is having no such problems creating them for his team-mates. He has now recorded six assists in Ligue 1 since the turn of the year, which is more than anyone else in the top five European leagues.

What's next?

PSG visit Nice next Saturday, while Saint-Etienne host Metz a day later.

One topic sure to take up plenty of column inches at the end of the season will be the appointment of Manchester United's next permanent manager, but one front-runner may be out of the race already.

Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino has been heavily tipped to make a sensational return to the Premier League to take over at Old Trafford.

However, the former Tottenham manager may have already turned down the opportunity while he waits for what he considers to be a better offer from elsewhere.

TOP STORY - POCHETTINO HOLDING OUT FOR REAL MADRID

Pochettino has been linked with the manager's role at Man Utd since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked in November, but has turned the opportunity down as he waits for Real Madrid, according to Sport.

Ralf Rangnick was appointed as interim manager at the Premier League club after Solskjaer's departure and will play a role in deciding on the next permanent Red Devils boss at the end of the campaign.

However, it seems the Argentine may have ruled himself out of contention as he believes he could have an opportunity waiting for him at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The report claims that Los Blancos president Florentino Perez has Pochettino "in mind as one of Madrid's future coaches", and that should the Spanish giants decide to dismiss Carlo Ancelotti at the end of the season, he would be one of the leading candidates to replace the Italian at the helm.

ROUND-UP

- PSG are considering an off-season move for Chelsea star N'Golo Kante, whose contract at the Blues expires in 2023, according to the Telegraph.

- The Daily Express reports that Harry Kane may once again try to force a move away from Tottenham if manager Antonio Conte does leave the club.

- Georginio Wijnaldum could leave PSG after only one season, with West Ham, Atletico Madrid and Aston Villa among those interested in the former Liverpool midfielder, says Calciomercato.

- The same publication also believes that RB Leipzig left-back Angelino could leave Germany at the end of the season, with Barcelona, Arsenal and Tottenham all interested in the former Manchester City man.

- Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen will not join another Premier League club when his contract expires at the end of the season, but could move to either Barcelona or Bayern Munich, according to Fabrizio Romano.

- Romano also reports that PSG are "really convinced" to make the loan move of left-back Nuno Mendes from Sporting CP permanent for a fee of around €40million.

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