Mauricio Pochettino has declared Lionel Messi available for Paris Saint-Germain’s Champions League meeting with Manchester City on Tuesday, with the head coach backing the forward to be successful following a slow start to his time at the club.
Messi was a doubt for the Group A match due to a bruised knee that has forced him to miss PSG’s past two games. But Pochettino confirmed on Monday that he is fit for selection. “Leo is in a very good way. I think he will be in the squad tomorrow but I still haven’t decided on the starting XI,” he said. “We will confirm the starting XI tomorrow.”
Messi, who has had other physical problems since joining PSG on a free transfer from Barcelona, has played only three times for his new club: a 1-1 draw at Club Brugge in the Champions League and two Ligue 1 wins. He is yet to score.
Pochettino has no doubt the six-times Ballon d’Or winner will soon find top form. “We are talking about the best player in the world,” he said of his fellow Argentinian. “But, saying that, you need to understand that he is a man like us that needs to adapt to a new club, the family needs to adapt to a new society and new culture. There are many things. Let people work, let the player adapt and start to feel at home. He was at Barcelona for 20 years. It is normal that he feels at home in Barcelona.
“Now everything is new. He arrived not too long ago. Over the time we are working together he is getting to know his teammates and, for sure, he’s going to succeed. I hope he wins big things for the club. That is what we are hoping for.”
Speaking before the match against Manchester City at Parc des Princes, Pochettino also played down an apparent disagreement between Kylian Mbappé and Neymar during the 2-0 home victory over Montpellier on Saturday. After being substituted late on, Mbappé reportedly complained that Neymar does not always pass to him.
“These things happen,” Pochettino said. “There are always things between top players – they are competitors who want to win and help the team achieve good. I have spoken to them today individually and they may have also spoken to each other and there have been photos of them enjoying themselves in training. The target is to win. If there is a small incident sometimes that can create a wave but it is actually just talk.”