Mauricio Pochettino has insisted Kylian Mbappe is a "fantastic guy" after the Paris Saint-Germain star came in for criticism following the midweek win over Metz. 

PSG won 2-1 on Wednesday thanks to Achraf Hakimi's last-gasp winner, after Metz captain Dylan Bronn had received a second yellow card for kicking the ball away to waste time, with coach Frederic Antonetti then seeing red for his protestations on the touchline. 

As PSG celebrated Hakimi scoring, Metz goalkeeper Alexandre Oukidja charged out to confront some of Pochettino's players, seemingly angered by the nature of their celebrations, with Mbappe the main target of his remonstrations.  

Speaking in his post-match news conference, Antonetti hit out at Mbappe, who he claimed needed to be humble in his behaviour on the field.

Pochettino, however, defended Mbappe on Friday, saying incidents within a match must be taken within that context. 

"I understand that the coach was angry. That is a natural reaction," said Pochettino. 

"You have to take the context into account, especially when considering after losing a game in the 95th minute, I can empathise with Fred for being angry about the situation. 

"Kylian Mbappe is a fantastic guy, he is a top competitor who wants to win, always. 

"These things happen on the pitch, but I don't think they need to be carried off the pitch as well in terms of the situations with him and some Metz players. 

"These incidents cannot be taken out of context, they have to be analysed within a match in which both teams want to win and many things happen, so that cannot be used out of context. 

"That doesn't reflect the reality of who Kylian is, but I can understand the frustration on their behalf." 

 

Mbappe had a game-leading three attempts, level with Neymar and Hakimi, while the 22-year-old also created four chances, more than any other player. 

He had 76 touches and came out on top in 63.6 per cent of his 11 duels, while also winning three fouls, another game high, though only Neymar (34) lost possession more times than the France forward (18). 

With Lionel Messi out injured, the onus will be on Neymar and Mbappe to spearhead PSG's attack against Montpellier on Saturday. 

Mbappe has been involved in 11 goals against Montpellier in Ligue 1 (eight goals, three assists), more than any other current team in the competition. 

After failing to be involved in either goal against Metz, however, he will be aiming to make sure he does not feature in successive league matches without scoring or assisting for the first time since February. 

Mauricio Pochettino is hopeful over Lionel Messi's fitness ahead of next week's huge Champions League meeting against Manchester City.

Pep Guardiola's side beat PSG over two legs to progress to last season's Champions League final, before going down 1-0 to Chelsea in the showpiece match.

The two sides will meet again in the group stage on Tuesday - PSG having drawn their first match, at Club Brugge, while City defeated RB Leipzig 6-3.

It is a headline fixture of the group stages, with PSG's star-studded front line going up against the Premier League champions.

However, there is a fitness doubt over Messi, who was absent for PSG's dramatic 2-1 Ligue 1 win over Metz in midweek because of a knee injury.

Messi will also miss Saturday's Ligue 1 encounter with Montpellier, but Pochettino said it is too early to rule the 34-year-old out for the match against City.

"Leo has started to run today and as you have seen in the medical update we are going to assess him and we hope he improves," Pochettino told a news conference on Friday.

"On Sunday, we hope we will be able to give a positive update. We hope everything goes well and he will be available again.

"Yes, we hope he can play. We have to be cautious and we have to see how he evolves in the next few days."

Messi has played just three games since his stunning departure from Barca and has yet to find the net for PSG.

He hit the crossbar against Brugge and then also hit the woodwork with a long-range free-kick against Lyon on Sunday before he was substituted off.

Mauro Icardi scored a late winner against Lyon, and Pochettino has been delighted with the striker's form this season despite the former Inter man missing a chunk of games through injury.

"Mauro Icardi, he is player who contributed a lot until his injury," said Pochettino.

"He recovered and has made a big impact. He scored against Lyon and of course, he offers us an alternative in our attacking play."

Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino hailed Achraf Hakimi after his brace preserved the Ligue 1 giants' perfect start to the season on Wednesday.

Hakimi scored a last-gasp winner as Lionel Messi-less PSG maintained their 100 per cent record in a dramatic 2-1 victory at Metz midweek.

PSG full-back Hakimi had opened the scoring in the fifth minute, only for Pochettino's men to be pegged back by Kiki Kouyate's 39th-minute header.

Without superstar Messi due to a knee injury, PSG looked to have run out of ideas, but Dylan Bronn's dismissal for a second yellow card set up a thrilling finish.

Metz head coach Frederic Antonetti was sent off for his protestations and moments later Hakimi scored a 95th-minute winner as PSG made it seven victories from seven league fixtures.

"I am indeed happy with him, he's a great guy, he's a player who's really bringing a lot to us, not just the goals, but also his capacity on the sideline to play both defensively and offensively," Pochettino said during his post-match news conference.

"I am very happy with him, and today, scoring goals, it's been an important reward for the team and for him."

Hakimi – an off-season signing from Serie A champions Inter – has been involved in 13 league goals in 2021 (six goals and seven assists), no defender has done better in the top five European competitions.

This was Hakimi's second brace in the top five European leagues after December 2020, with Inter against Bologna.

Pochettino added: "Can I tell an anecdote on Hakimi? Yesterday [Tuesday], after the training, I asked him: 'How are you?' And he said: 'Very well, very well'. And then he replied: 'And you coach? How are you?'

"I was surprised by the question. 'Because no one ever asks you!'. 'You ask everyone, but no one ever asks you'. And look, today he scored goals. That's the reward for having good intentions."

Pochettino also praised PSG star Neymar, who set up Hakimi's stoppage-time winner away to Metz.

Neymar has been involved in 16 goals in his last 16 starts in Ligue 1 (10 goals and six assists).

"I am very happy with Ney and with his contribution to the team," Pochettino added. "For his attitude and mindset. I am very happy. What I believe is that creative players, players who the whole world hopes they show magic with every touch, those players spend extra energy that other players don't have.

"Therefore it would be unfair to have a player like Ney play every three days hoping that every ball he touches he makes the play of the year. I am very happy with Ney and I think today he did a massive job, like last Sunday. Playing every three day, especially for a players who's got to create constantly, is not easy. Because of that, I am very happy with his performance. Very happy of it."

PSG have won their first seven Ligue 1 games in 2021-22. Only four teams have managed such a performance at this stage previously in the top flight – Lille in 1936-37, Lille in 1949-50, Monaco in 1960-61 and PSG in 2018-19.

Achraf Hakimi scored a last-gasp winner as Paris Saint-Germain maintained their 100 per cent record in dramatic fashion with a 2-1 vitory at Metz.

Hakimi had opened the scoring in the fifth minute, only for PSG to pegged back by Kiki Kouyate's 39th-minute header.

Deprived of Lionel Messi's services because of a knee injury, PSG looked to have run out of ideas, but Dylan Bronn's dismissal for a second yellow card set in motion a thrilling and fractious finish.

Metz coach Frederic Antonetti was sent off for his protestations and moments later Hakimi lashed the winner into the bottom corner in the 95th minute, prompting a furious response from Metz goalkeeper Alexandre Oukidja as PSG made it seven wins from seven.

A long evening appeared to be in store for Metz when PSG broke the deadlock in impressive fashion. Mauro Icardi's delicate chip was cleared off the line by Matthieu Udol, who could not repeat the feat to prevent Hakimi's follow-up from crossing the line.

Yet PSG failed to make the most of their first-half dominance. The visitors enjoyed three-quarters of the possession in the opening period but were pegged back from a set-piece as Kouyate met Lamine Gueye's corner with a powerful header that proved too strong for Keylor Navas.

Gueye could have completed the turnaround on the stroke of half-time, but he failed to find a way past Navas when sent through on goal by Ibrahima Niane.

Neymar fizzed an effort past the near post as PSG sought to regain their lead and the Brazil star was to the fore again when Hakimi blazed high across the face of goal from his clever lofted pass.

Kylian Mbappe almost caught Oukidja off his line with a long-range free-kick, and that should have been Metz's last scare. But there was a twist in the tale as captain Bronn received a second caution for time-wasting having kicked the ball away, with Hakimi cutting in and converting from another superb Neymar pass after Antonetti had seen red.

Lionel Messi has been ruled out of Paris Saint-Germain's Ligue 1 trip to Metz on Wednesday with a knee injury that also renders him doubtful for a reunion with Pep Guardiola next week.

The Argentina international sustained the problem during PSG's late 2-1 win against Lyon on Sunday as they made it six wins from six to begin their new league campaign.

Messi made his home debut in that match but was substituted off with the scores level, meaning he has yet to score in three appearances since joining from Barcelona last month.

PSG will not have Messi in their squad to face Metz at Stade Saint-Symphorien, with that game coming six days before a Champions League trip to Guardiola's Manchester City.

The French giants confirmed the injury blow in an injury update posted on their official website on Tuesday.

"Messi, following the blow received on his left knee, underwent an MRI which confirms the signs of bone contusion," the update read. "A new test will be carried out in 48 hours."

PSG also confirmed that Marco Verratti returned to training on Tuesday, while Sergio Ramos – yet to feature since joining from Real Madrid – is continuing to train individually.

Pochettino's decision to bring on Achraf Hakimi for Messi with his side chasing a goal against Lyon dominated all the talk after last weekend's contest.

Messi was involved in six shots (four attempts, two chances created) – only Kylian Mbappe against Clermont (seven) has managed better in a league game for PSG this term.

Pochettino insisted there were "no issues" with Messi when speaking after the game and has once again defended his decision to bring off the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

"I understand the situation and accept it as it is," Pochettino said at a news conference on Tuesday previewing the clash with Metz.

"The priority is always the players and their well-being. We thought the best decision was to take him off. But of course, all champions want to be on the pitch all the time."

Asked to elaborate on Messi's injury, Pochettino said: "The club have already communicated that. During the match we saw he was checking his knee after being struck.

"When we saw that we made a decision. We were happy with his performance and I am happy with his commitment. He didn't score but was otherwise very good."

Mbappe had a quiet game against Lyon before assisting Mauro Icardi's late winner as he touched the ball just five times in the opposition box and failed to get a shot on target.

The Frenchman spearheaded a 4-2-3-1 formation that also included Messi, Neymar and Angel Di Maria in attack and Pochettino insists it will take time for system to work.

"We have to create these connections in training over time, not just in matches," Pochettino said. "We used a 4-2-3-1 against Lyon and that's not the same as we've used before.

"That's why I was happy with the team's performance. We were also organised in defence and recovered balls high up the pitch.

"Leo, Neymar and Di Maria know each other well and have already built a connection. Now we have to integrate Kylian into the side and that will take a while."

Mbappe is expected to start against Metz on Wednesday, an opponent he has either scored or assisted against in all five previous Ligue 1 encounters.

PSG also have a great record against Metz, having defeated them in 10 successive league fixtures in a run stretching back to August 2007.

Mauricio Pochettino insisted there are "no issues" with Lionel Messi after the Paris Saint-Germain superstar's reaction to being substituted during Sunday's 2-1 win over Ligue 1 rivals Lyon.

Messi had a puzzled look on his face as he walked past PSG head coach Pochettino, having been replaced by full-back Achraf Hakimi in the 76th minute of the league clash.

Pochettino and Messi briefly exchanged words before the latter, who was making his home debut at the Parc des Princes following his blockbuster arrival from Barcelona, sat on the bench next to surprised team-mates.

Messi was involved in six shots (four attempts, two chances created) against Lyon and only Kylian Mbappe against Clermont (seven) has managed better in a league game so far this season for PSG.

A six-time Ballon d'Or winner, Messi also had 65 touches and made 48 passes with an accuracy of 83.3 per cent.

Pochettino told a post-match media conference: "I think everyone knows that we have many great players, with a 35-man squad. 

"We have to make choices, within the matchday squad and then during the game, keeping in mind what's best for the team and every player. 

"Sometimes the decisions are positive, or not, but that's what managers are there to do on the sidelines, to make decisions. It can please people or not. 

"I asked him how he was and he said he was fine, no issues."

PSG secured victory over Lyon following a dramatic injury-time header from substitute Mauro Icardi from Mbappe's cross after Neymar's penalty had earlier cancelled out Lucas Paqueta's opening goal.

Pochettino's PSG are now five points clear of Marseille at the top of Ligue 1 after six wins from six games.

PSG have achieved a flawless start from their first six games for the third time after 2017-18 and 2018-19 – on both those occasions they went on to be crowned champions.

"It's very positive for us," Pochettino said of their start to the Ligue 1 campaign. "After the difficult game [against Club Brugge in the Champions League], this was important for us. Lyon are a very good team that play well. 

"We conceded that goal in the second half. The team needed to show some character. 

"We're in a period where we're trying a lot of things. We have to work on it in training, but it's difficult because we have a game every three days, and the priority is that the players recover. 

"We can only do video sessions. It's not an excuse, we need to improve."

Kylian Mbappe could yet feature against Lyon on Sunday having already returned to Paris Saint-Germain training following his midweek injury.

Having created PSG's goal in a 1-1 draw at Club Brugge, Mbappe hobbled off on Wednesday with an ankle issue.

Any lay-off would have represented a blow to Mauricio Pochettino, with five matches before the October international break – starting against Lyon and including a Champions League encounter with Manchester City.

Mbappe has been involved in seven goals in all competitions so far this season – the most of any PSG player and joint-sixth across Europe's top five leagues.

The World Cup winner also has a fine record in matches with Lyon, with his eight goals against them in Ligue 1 his most versus any side currently in the division.

But Mbappe could still improve that tally further on Sunday, with PSG reporting "good evolution" of his injury on Saturday.

And Pochettino added in a news conference: "Kylian trained with the group this morning. We'll see how he is tomorrow morning to see if he's part of the group."

With this frantic period of the campaign not aided by a hectic international break for many of his players, Pochettino said PSG would "try to use all our players while striking the right balance".

That could mean a debut for Nuno Mendes, but the PSG coach still has "no date or specific information" on Sergio Ramos' return to fitness.

Meanwhile, Lionel Messi is set for his home bow.

"Leo is calm," Pochettino said. "He knows he can make his debut in front of his fans.

"The team is focused on the game and improving on our Champions League performance and winning the game of course."

Mbappe, Messi and Neymar started together for the first time at Brugge, but none of them were on the scoresheet, with the Argentina great waiting on his maiden PSG goal.

"Players need time, to know each other, to find affinities," Pochettino added. "It will happen with time. We have a very talented squad."

Plenty will be expected this weekend, with Lyon's 1-0 win at the Parc des Princes last December their first victory in 13 league visits.

Mauricio Pochettino insisted Lionel Messi will take time to settle as Paris Saint-Germain await more information on Kylian Mbappe's ankle injury following their 1-1 draw with Club Brugge in the Champions League.

Pochettino unleashed Messi, Neymar and Mbappe together for the first time, with the latter teeing up Ander Herrera's fourth goal in four games in all competitions – as many as he had scored in his previous 70 PSG matches.

However, Hans Vanaken's seventh Champions League goal for Brugge stunned the star-studded Ligue 1 outfit, who failed to recover, now having won their European opener in just one of their past four campaigns.

To make matters worse, Mbappe was forced off in the second half after a challenge by former team-mate Stanley N'Soki, and Pochettino could not reveal the extent of his injury post-match.

"Mbappe twisted his ankle, he already had problems with both ankles," Pochettino told RMC Sport. "We will see tomorrow [Thursday] if we can have a more precise update."

Even with Mbappe stricken, PSG should have had enough to defeat Brugge, instead turning in an underwhelming attacking performance – although Messi hit the crossbar with one of three shots and also created a trio of opportunities.

"We need time to work for them [Messi, Neymar and Mbappe] to build an understanding," Pochettino told reporters.

"That's been clear and we've said that in recent days. We still have to create a team.

"We didn't have a good evening. We have to stay calm, keep working and take the time we need. Things will get better."

He added: "Nobody in the team can be happy with their performance and nobody can be happy with this result."

Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe were unleashed together for the first time but Paris Saint-Germain had to settle for 1-1 Champions League draw at Club Brugge.

Mauricio Pochettino started with his formidable attacking trio at Jan Breydel Stadion on Wednesday, with Mbappe teeing up Ander Herrera for the opener after a mazy run on the left flank.

Many may have expected Brugge to crumble, however, they responded through Hans Vanaken's fifth goal in eight games in the competition.

Mbappe was forced off in the second half with a slight foot problem as PSG, despite their embarrassment of attacking riches, failed to kick-off their Group A campaign with a win.

The visitors started brightly, Mbappe dancing past Clinton Mata before finding Herrera, who opened the scoring after 15 minutes with a first-time left-footed strike into the bottom-left corner.

Mbappe should have added a goal of his own after being rolled through by Messi but his right-footed drive was beaten away by Simon Mignolet.

Brugge then stunned the star-studded away side, with Eduard Sobol driving down the left flank before cutting back to the penalty spot, where Vanaken powered past Keylor Navas for his seventh goal in the Champions League - the most in his club's history.

Messi looked to respond immediately but his left-footed strike smashed against the crossbar before Vanaken and Charles de Ketelaere were both denied by smart Navas saves.

Brugge almost took the lead after the break through Jack Hendry but Presnel Kimpembe produced an important last-ditch block, with Mbappe limping off moments later following a challenge from Stanley N'Soki.

Noa Lang acrobatically volleyed wide in another fright for PSG before substitute Nuno Mendes found Messi, who spurned a glorious opportunity to win the game as he blasted over.

Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe could feature together for the first time when Paris Saint-Germain tackle Club Brugge, Mauricio Pochettino has confirmed.

How the superstar trio perform as a unit could define PSG's season and Pochettino's reign with the French giants, after Messi's shock switch from Barcelona.

Some observers harbour concerns that fielding three such forwards together could leave PSG exposed in other areas. Yet if they click, then PSG could be a rampant force in the Champions League, the tournament they dearly want to win.

Asked if he would select all three on Wednesday in PSG's European opener, Pochettino said: "Maybe, yes. It is possible."

There is little doubt PSG have three of the world's best forwards, but developing a winning team around them is the challenge facing their Argentine head coach.

Speaking in the pre-game news conference, Pochettino was asked whether he was excited about the prospect of the three front players teaming up.

"I will have to get on board all the excitement because I know how excited everyone is," he said. "I would be crazy to think otherwise."

Across the last four Champions League campaigns, only six players have been directly involved in 30-plus goals in the competition, and Pochettino can call on three of those in Mbappe (37 involvements), Messi (36) and Neymar (31).

If Messi plays a part, he will be making his 150th Champions League appearance after previously turning out 149 times for Barcelona, scoring 120 goals and providing 35 assists so far.

However PSG eventually line up, their Belgian hosts may be privately fearing the worst. That is because the last time Club Brugge hosted the Parisians, they were beaten 5-0 in the 2019-20 Champions League – this remains Brugge's heaviest home defeat in European competition. Mauro Icardi scored twice, while Mbappe came on as a substitute and grabbed a hat-trick.

Pochettino knows many expect his team to be major challengers for Champions League glory this season, but he believes holders Chelsea will take some stopping. He also rates the London outfit, coached by former PSG boss Thomas Tuchel, as a model that PSG should look to follow.

"Chelsea are the holders and they are the team to beat, if there is one," Pochettino said. "They have also strengthened by signing good players and have spent a lot more money than Paris Saint-Germain.

"We are not a team yet. We are a club that has recruited many players this summer. There are some very big names, but we have to turn into a team in the way that Chelsea did last season.

"Chelsea are the team to beat because they achieved their targets. We are a group of players that need to achieve the target of becoming a solid team in order to get the results that we want.

"There are no timeframes. At Paris Saint-Germain, you will be judged on the results that you achieve. There is always pressure at every club and in this case at PSG the club has been targeting a dream for many years of winning the Champions League, and that is something that we cannot deny."

Mauricio Pochettino admitted he is lost for words when it comes to describing Lionel Messi but said the six-time Ballon d'Or winner has settled in quickly at Paris Saint-Germain ahead of his Champions League debut for the club.

PSG signed Messi in August when financial issues left Barcelona unable to retain him, and he played 24 minutes of his new club's Ligue 1 victory over Reims before the international break.

Messi, who won the Champions League four times with Barcelona, is set to make his bow in the competition for PSG against Club Brugge on Wednesday, and Pochettino told UEFA.com that he is preparing well.

When asked to describe his compatriot, Pochettino said: "I may not be the most appropriate person to describe him. There are many more people who have a wider vocabulary to describe him closer to the reality Leo deserves.

"He will always be considered among the best in the world. Since he arrived, he has really adapted very quickly and he's been training very well, trying to achieve his highest level as soon as possible to compete at his best.

"I didn't think it was possible [that he would sign for us], and when an opportunity appears and everything goes so fast, you can't immediately process it. However, there's that connection: we both are Argentinian, we both support Newell's [Old Boys], we both come from Rosario.

"I have also admired him for a long time when facing him as an opponent, so having him now training with us is really nice. We hope that, together, we will be able to achieve what the club desires."

Messi's experience in the Champions League is matched by team-mate Sergio Ramos, who won the competition four times before joining PSG from Real Madrid in July.

Pochettino, who admitted that most of the players in his squad deserve to be in his starting line-up, said Ramos would be able to guide younger colleagues through the pressurised environment of Europe's top competition.

"Sergio is also a player that we think can, given the possibility, convey his experience, his competitiveness," said Pochettino.

"He's a player that has also won everything, just like Leo.

"It's good having him at the club for all that he can share with his team-mates: all that experience he gained at Real Madrid."

Mauricio Pochettino insisted Kylian Mbappe has plenty of love for Paris Saint-Germain after the speculation surrounding a move to Real Madrid last month.

PSG reportedly rejected three bids - the last one said to be worth up to €200million - from Madrid for the 22-year-old, whose contract with the Ligue 1 giants runs out at the end of the season.

Mbappe has so far turned down the opportunity to sign a new deal, though the speculation has not affected his form, and he scored with a typically composed finish in PSG's 4-0 rout of Clermont on Saturday.

The France forward has now scored against 26 of the 27 teams he has faced in Ligue 1, while he has also directly contributed to a goal in each of his last 10 appearances in the competition.

Mbappe, who was taken off with 11 minutes remaining, ended Saturday's match with a game-leading five attempts, with three of those on target, including a shot that was parried out to Idrissa Gueye for PSG's fourth goal.

However, prior to his strike against Clermont, there appeared to be something of a mixed reaction from the PSG faithful at Parc des Princes, with some sections of the home fans appearing to whistle and jeer the youngster.

Pochettino claimed not to have heard anything untoward, but was adamant that Mbappe has nothing but respect for PSG.

"I didn't hear the whistles, but I heard the ovation he received when he went to take a corner in the second half with the affection of all the supporters of Paris," Pochettino told a news conference.

"He is a great professional, a great player and a good boy, he has a lot of love for this club. He has shown it since he got here.

"He is focused on improving every day, helping the team and fulfilling the club's goals. He shows great respect every day for this club, you have to salute him."

Next up for PSG is a Champions League encounter with Club Brugge. Lionel Messi and Neymar, who were both absent for Saturday's match, are likely to return and may well start in a front three with Mbappe for the first time.

Mauricio Pochettino has confirmed Lionel Messi and Neymar will not play against Clermont, while reaffirming that Kylian Mbappe is perfectly happy at Paris Saint-Germain.

Messi, who made his PSG debut at Reims before the international break, and Neymar both played as late as Thursday in respective World Cup qualifiers for Argentina and Brazil.

While Neymar scored and provided an assist in Brazil's 2-0 win over Peru, Messi netted a hat-trick against Bolivia, surpassing Pele as the all-time leading goalscorer for a South American nation in the process. Argentina subsequently celebrated their recent Copa America triumph with fans finally allowed back into the stadium in Buenos Aires.

Angel Di Maria and Leandro Paredes also featured for Argentina and Pochettino said a common-sense approach dictated none of the players would be involved in Saturday's home match against newly promoted Clermont.

"Di Maria, Paredes, Neymar and Messi, due to common sense, they are not going to be involved in the squad tomorrow," Pochettino told a news conference, though PSG's coach is hoping to have Mauro Icardi, Presnel Kimpembe and Mbappe – who suffered a calf injury while on France duty – will be fit to feature.

 

Mbappe was at the centre of one of the biggest stories of the recently closed transfer window, with PSG rejecting three bids from Real Madrid for their star striker.

The 22-year-old only has a year left to run on his contract and reports have suggested Madrid are confident he will sign for them as a free agent in 2022. For now, though, he remains at PSG, where Pochettino insists he is content.

"Mbappe is happy. He is emotionally stable. Before the end of the transfer window and now, he has stayed in the same positive mindset with the desire to play and enjoy himself," he said.

"So we are happy with how he is feeling. He has been training and recovering from the injury that he picked up on international duty. We hope he can be available tomorrow."

While PSG have incredible star power in attack, Pochettino has been keen to point out there is a balance to be struck. Indeed, his side conceded five goals across their opening three Ligue 1 fixtures and though they sit pretty on 12 points from four matches, the former Tottenham boss knows there is work to do.

"I think all the players at PSG are stars. Some might play more or less, but they are all stars," added Pochettino, who is also set to be shorn of Marco Verratti on Saturday.

"PSG as a club is bigger than any individual. We have a squad of around 35 players, they all need to feel important. In terms of managing the squad, which is our job, we need the tools so that the 35 players can feel at home and accept their place but at the same time, there are some fantastic names.

"We have to make sure they work as a team because this is a team sport and that is a big challenge that we face. I have been saying that since the start, so we are going to work hard so that it is not just about the names of Kylian, Neymar or Messi, but so that everyone feels comfortable.

"They all need a team, a structure and an organisation to win games so that has to be our main thought. We all drive towards that."

Two of PSG's latest arrivals are yet to make their debuts. Euro 2020 winner Gianluigi Donnarumma has been on the bench for the last two games, while Sergio Ramos is still working his way back to fitness.

Asked if Donnarumma could make his bow against Clermont, Pochettino replied: "We haven't decided yet who is going to be in goal. We have different options – Donnarumma is one of those options."

Pochettino also confirmed Saturday's game, as well as next week's Champions League meeting with Club Brugge, would come too soon for former Madrid captain Ramos.

"Ramos is still undergoing recovery and will not be available for that match," he explained.

"He is following the steps. We want all the players to be available as quickly as possible but it is not something that worries me. I am sure Sergio will recover well and be available soon."

Paris Saint-Germain's star-studded 25-man Champions League squad does not feature Juan Bernat, Sergio Rico or Rafinha.

PSG made some outstanding additions in the recent transfer window, signing Achraf Hakimi, Georginio Wijnaldum, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Sergio Ramos and, of course, Lionel Messi, before adding full-back Nuno Mendes on deadline day.

The Ligue 1 giants also kept hold of Kylian Mbappe, reportedly rebuffing three offers from Real Madrid. Madrid's final bid for Mbappe, whose contract runs out at the end of the season, was rumoured to be in the region of €200million, but PSG did not blink.

A major factor in their resolve may well have been the desire to win the Champions League.

Thomas Tuchel guided PSG to the final in 2020 before Mauricio Pochettino saw his team slip to a semi-final defeat to Manchester City last term, but with Mbappe, Messi and Neymar leading their attack, the Parisians are big contenders to finally end their wait for European glory.

PSG have been drawn against Manchester City in Group A, alongside RB Leipzig and Club Brugge.

Pochettino's 25-man squad for the competition was released on Friday, with a wealth of options at his disposal.

Bernat, who was a key player under Tuchel but missed most of last season with a severe knee injury, is not included, with Layvin Kurzawa and Mendes the left-back options, while Abdou Diallo has been filling in there.

Goalkeeper Rico also fails to make the cut, as does former Barcelona midfielder Rafinha, who at one point looked set to move out before the transfer deadline.

Messi, Neymar and Mbappe spearhead a fearsome list of attacking options that also includes Mauro Icardi and Angel Di Maria, while Donnarumma takes his place as one of four goalkeepers. PSG have included eight youth players as reserves, taking the total count to 33.

Ramos is yet to feature since his arrival from Madrid, but the veteran centre-back is due to return to action this month.

PSG kick off their Champions League campaign against Brugge on September 15.

The transfer window does not close. It slams shut, and on Tuesday, it slammed shut with a flurry of late activity.

LaLiga champions Atletico Madrid were heavily involved, with Antoine Griezmann re-joining the club on loan from Barcelona while Saul Niguez left for Chelsea.

It marked the end of a difficult window for Barca, who of course lost Lionel Messi to Paris Saint-Germain, who rounded off a stellar three months by not only keeping Kylian Mbappe, but also adding promising left-back Nuno Mendes.

Earlier in the day, Cristiano Ronaldo's sensational return to Manchester United had been confirmed, perhaps putting the Red Devils right in the mix for the Premier League title, while Chelsea - buoyed by Romelu Lukaku's comeback - cannot be ignored.

Here, Stats Perform looks at the winners, and losers, of what has been a chaotic transfer window.

 

THE WINNERS

Paris Saint-Germain

Let's start with the obvious. Achraf Hakimi, Mendes, Sergio Ramos, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Georgino Wijnaldum and, of course Messi. Oh, and PSG kept hold of Mbappe, too, rebuffing three bids - the final one reportedly worth €200m - from Real Madrid for the 22-year-old superstar who is out of contract next year. Speaking of out of contract players, Ramos, Donnarumma, Wijnaldum and Messi were all brought in for combined fees of €0, although their wages are sure to be astronomical even by PSG's standards. In Mbappe, Neymar and Messi, PSG have, on paper, what could be the most feared attacking trident of the modern era, not to mention Angel Di Maria in reserve. Mauricio Pochettino's side look suspect defensively but have Ramos to come in, while Donnarumma will compete with Keylor Navas. If they do not win the Champions League this season, will they ever manage it?

Manchester United

It remains to be seen whether United really needed to go out and buy Ronaldo, but the temptation – and reportedly, the requirement to get one over on noisy neighbours Manchester City – was just too much. However, there is no doubting Ronaldo brings a focal point you could argue was still missing from the Red Devils' attack, though with so much quality at his disposal the pressure will be on Ole Gunnar Solskjer to deliver a trophy. United spent big on Jadon Sancho and also brought in a world class defender in Raphael Varane. A title tilt might not be expected just yet, but silverware in some form must be the goal now. After fan protests during the botched Super League proposals earlier this year, the Glazer family seem to have gone all out to prove they want success.

Chelsea

When it comes to Premier League title contenders, Chelsea have surely put themselves well in the running. The European Champions have brought in two major additions in the form of Lukaku and Saul, both players with a wealth of experience at the highest level, and both on the back of title-winning campaigns last season. The Blues did sell Tammy Abraham, Olivier Giroud and Kurt Zouma, among others, but the strength in depth Thomas Tuchel has to play with is remarkable. A deadline day move for Sevilla's Jules Kounde did not materialise, but Saul adds another fantastic option in midfield to go alongside N'Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic and the in-form Jorginho.

Tottenham

For a long while, it looked as though Tottenham would be one of the big losers from this window. A prolonged managerial search eventually resulted in Nuno Espirito Santo's appointment, but the main saga was over Harry Kane's future. City reportedly made one bid, during Euro 2020, which was dismissed out of hand. The champions never did return with an improved offer, despite huge speculation, and Kane ultimately stayed put. Older players such as Joe Hart, Toby Alderweireld, Erik Lamela and Moussa Sissoko were moved out, while Bryan Gil, Pierluigi Gollini, Cristian Romero and Emerson Royal – a deadline day arrival from Barca – arrived to fill the gaps. Serge Aurier's contract was terminated, while three wins from three means Spurs sat top of the league heading into the international break.

Atletico Madrid

While Saul was a deadline day exit, Atleti have given themselves a great chance of retaining their LaLiga title. With rivals Madrid failing to land Mbappe, as well as losing two of their stalwarts, and Barca seemingly in disarray, there has never been a better opportunity for Diego Simeone's team to really assert themselves as top dogs in Spain. Griezmann's arrival, on a season-long loan with the option for either club to extend the switch, has bolstered a fearsome attack that already included Luis Suarez, Angel Correa, new signing Matheus Cunha and Joao Felix - though the latter may now find chances to play in his preferred position, nominally off the front man, even harder to come by. Saul was struggling to nail down a regular spot in the first team, but Atleti showed greater desire to keep Kieran Trippier, who stayed despite interest from the Premier League. Rodrigo de Paul also arrived from Udinese.

 

THE LOSERS

Barcelona

The chickens have finally come home to roost at Camp Nou. Years of mismanagement, and the impact of COVID-19, has left the club's finances in a shambolic state. Barca had agreed to a new deal with Messi only to then announce the deal could not be completed due to "financial and structural obstacles". Barca ended the window by selling promising youngster Ilaix Moriba to RB Leipzig and shipping off Emerson to Spurs. Then, late on Tuesday, Griezmann, who cost Barca €120m in 2019, was sent back to Atleti. Luuk de Jong, a target man Ronald Koeman worked with during his stint as the Netherlands' coach, was drafted in from Sevilla as a replacement. Memphis Depay seems ready to step up after his arrival from Lyon, while Eric Garcia and Sergio Aguero also came in on free transfers, though Gerard Pique, Sergi Roberto, Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets were among the players who took pay cuts in order for Barca to register their latest acquisitions.

Inter

Serie A champions Inter were dealt a blow when, just after ending their 11-year trophy drought, coach Antonio Conte left the club. Financial difficulties meant the Nerrazurri had to cash in on prized assets, and Hakimi and subsequently Lukaku followed Conte out of the door. Lautaro Martinez did stay, however, with Inter reinvesting some of the funds to sign Netherlands right-back Denzel Dumfries, Roma striker Edin Dzeko and Lazio forward Juan Correa. Hakan Calhanoglu, meanwhile, joined from rivals Milan on loan, though it is difficult to see that being enough for Inter to challenge on all fronts this season.

 

Juventus

While Inter were weakened, it has to be said that Juventus – surely their closest rivals in the Scudetto hunt – also had a disappointing window. Like many European clubs, they have been hit hard by COVID-19, though appeared well set to challenge again after reappointing Massimiliano Allegri. However, Ronaldo decided he wanted out late in the window, and Juve did not stand in his way. An initial fee of £12.86m (€15m), payable over five years, was agreed with United, and Ronaldo left just like that. Moise Kean returned from Everton on a two-year loan with an obligation to buy as a replacement, while Manuel Locatelli was their other major acquisition and Weston McKennie's move from Schalke was made permanent. Based on the performance in Sunday's defeat to Empoli, however, Juve are far from the force they were during Allegri's last spell in charge.

Real Madrid

For a time last week, it really did look as though Madrid were going to end the window in sensational fashion. Three bids were lodged for Mbappe, but PSG did not buckle. Madrid did move for another French youngster – Edouardo Camavinga, who joined from Rennes on Tuesday – but overall it must be considered a poor window. Los Blancos allowed Ramos to leave on a free and sold long-time defensive partner Varane - just the eight Champions League winners' medals between them. Martin Odegaard was deemed surplus to requirements by Carlo Ancelotti and sold to Arsenal, though no buyers were found for fringe players Luka Jovic or Dani Ceballos. David Alaba's arrival on a free transfer from Bayern Munich at least softened the blow of Ramos' departure, and Mbappe may well be on board in 2022.

Manchester City

City broke the British transfer record to sign Jack Grealish from Aston Villa, who in turn have made smart acquisitions such as Danny Ings, Leon Bailey and Emiliano Buendia. While another attacking midfielder was more of a luxury than a necessity, City did miss out on Kane and then seemingly saw Ronaldo snatched from under their noses by United, though the club have claimed it is they who pulled out of the deal. Pep Guardiola went into the window wanting an out-and-out number nine following Aguero's departure, but for now the Premier League champions will have to carry on with makeshift forwards, it seems. Not that it did them much harm in 5-0 routs of Norwich City and Arsenal last month. Meanwhile, wantaway playmaker Bernardo Silva is still at the club, though he will remain a first-team regular.

Liverpool 

Unlike their league rivals, Liverpool never seemed focused on spending big. The Reds instead turned their attention to tying down the futures of key players, with Jordan Henderson, Virgil van Dijk, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Alisson, Fabinho and Andrew Robertson signing new deals. Ibrahima Konate came in from RB Leipzig to boost the defence – a clear area of weakness last season during an injury crisis – though Jurgen Klopp's squad does seem weaker. They have started the season well, but it remains to be seen how they cope without Wijnaldum and even Xherdan Shaqiri should injuries trouble them again.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.