Messi and Neymar train but Pochettino refuses to confirm PSG squad for Brest

By Sports Desk August 19, 2021

Lionel Messi and Neymar have been training together for Paris Saint-Germain, but Mauricio Pochettino refused to comment whether the pair would feature against Brest.

PSG travel to Brest on Friday fresh from back-to-back Ligue 1 wins against Troyes and Strasbourg, the first time in three years they have begun a new domestic season in such fashion.

Despite a positive start to their campaign, interest continues to centre around Messi, who arrived in Paris after a shock exit from Barcelona amid the club's financial difficulties in August.

However, it remains unclear whether the highly anticipated pairing of Messi and Neymar will be reunited to form a formidable trio with Kylian Mbappe at Stade Francis-Le Ble.

"We haven’t decided the squad yet but we will do so shortly," Pochettino responded in Thursday's news conference when asked about Messi.

"We will analyse whether he can be in the squad. In terms of what Lionel Messi brings, everybody knows that.

"His presence here in terms of what he represents is something we have talked about a lot in recent days.

"I am pleased with how he has settled in and how he has connected with squad. When you have talent at this sort of club, the understanding is not just in the dressing room but also on the pitch."

 

As part of a fearsome frontline with Luis Suarez at Barcelona between 2014 and 2017, Messi and Neymar between them created 2.1 chances for one another per 90 minutes, resulting in 22 assists for the duo.

But, like Suarez when he moved to Barcelona, it is Messi who will have to quickly link-up with an already established pairing, Mbappe and Neymar.

Neymar's injury troubles have meant that he and Mbappe have only played 3,552 minutes together – less than half as many as Messi and Suarez – though they have combined for 102 chances (2.6 per 90) and 21 assists (one every 169 minutes).

However, as with questioning over Messi's inclusion, Pochettino kept his cards close to his chest as to whether Neymar would feature.

"As I said, we are assessing that and of course, we take physical and footballing attributes into account," the head coach reiterated. "Within the squad, we have to find the right balance."

Mbappe, who is the only player to have recorded more than one assist following a ball carry in Ligue 1 this term (two), is the third part of Pochettino's forward puzzle, but his future remains in question.

With just a year left on his current deal, links to Real Madrid were expected to be quashed by Messi's arrival as the Frenchman realises his opportunity to challenge for Champions League glory at the Parc des Princes.

"I think he [Kylian Mbappe] is very motivated and working hard ahead of this season," the former Tottenham boss added. "We are thinking the same things we have been thinking in recent weeks. He is our player and I want him to be here this season."

"The most important thing is Kylian Mbappe is calm and knows what he is doing. He knows what he wants to do. We know that he is our player. We want him to be here.

"My conversations with Kylian Mbappe are all about football. He has another year on his contract and even if he doesn’t renew, he is still a PSG player and we are pleased with him, and from what I understand, he is pleased with us."

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    Despite the victory, some sections of Madrid's support were seemingly unhappy with how Los Blancos played at Camp Nou.

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