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.

Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino is unconcerned by recent wastefulness in front of goal and believes his star-studded attack will soon click.

PSG suffered just their second league loss of the season at Nantes last week, going down 3-1 despite creating plenty of chances and finishing the match with an expected goals (xG) of 3.8, with Neymar missing a second-half penalty after the Parisians had found themselves three goals down.

The Ligue 1 leaders also missed a penalty in their recent 1-0 Champions League win over Real Madrid, with Lionel Messi failing to beat Thibaut Courtois on a night where they had 1.88 xG to their opponents' 0.14.

However, Pochettino has faith that his attacking endeavours will be rewarded.

"I'm not worried when we don't score. I would worry if we didn't get chances," Pochettino told a news conference ahead of this weekend's game with Saint-Etienne.

"We have talented players, who can score at any time. 

"This week, we emphasised work. We must improve the balance in our play, the defensive transitions, controlling space. 

"With the team we have, there is no doubt in my mind that we'll find that clinical streak."

 

Although PSG boast a 13-point lead at the top of Ligue 1, they have won just five of their last 10 league games, drawing four and losing one. 

Meanwhile, with defender Sergio Ramos close to resuming training after a calf injury, Pochettino expressed his frustration at the injury woes which have blighted the Real Madrid legend this season, with Ramos making just two Ligue 1 starts since joining the club last summer.

"The person who suffers most from him not being available to play is him," the PSG boss added.

"We are trying to help him. We have great medical staff who are trying to give him the best possible treatment to deal with this type of situation. We're here to give him moral and psychological support. 

"It's always difficult for an injured player. A footballer needs to be part of the competition, of the squad too, on big days. All of that creates cohesion with the squad."

PSG are looking to defend a proud record against Saint-Etienne in their next outing, having won 42 of their 80 Ligue 1 games against them (25 draws and 13 losses). Only against Metz have they won more top-flight matches (43).

Carlo Ancelotti has refuted suggestions that he could use Real Madrid's upcoming league games to prepare for their crucial Champions League second leg clash with Paris Saint-Germain, for which Casemiro and Ferland Mendy will be suspended.

Casemiro and Mendy picked up decisive yellow cards in the LaLiga leaders' 1-0 first-leg defeat to PSG, ruling them out of the crucial second leg in Spain next month. 

Brazil midfielder Casemiro has appeared in all seven of Real's Champions League games this season, while left-back Mendy has made five appearances, both establishing themselves as key parts of Ancelotti's attempts to bring the Spanish and European crowns back to the Bernabeu.

Speaking ahead of a trip to Rayo Vallecano, Ancelotti insisted that he will not use upcoming games to find the right balance for Real's reunion with PSG, highlighting the importance of their league fixtures.

"What can I tell you? It would be a good idea [to experiment] if we had friendly games," he said.

"But we have two really important games, finals, against Rayo Vallecano and Real Sociedad.

"Two victories would mean a lot in order to win LaLiga, [so] I will play my best starting 11 in the games before Paris Saint-Germain.

"Toni Kroos can replace Casemiro, but he doesn't need to get used to playing that [deeper] position, he has played it many times.

"I have experienced players, I don’t need to try new things. I Haven't thought yet about who will replace Casemiro and Mendy, as we have two really important matches before that."

Gonzalo Higuain is hopeful his former Argentina team-mate Lionel Messi will one day join him in Major League Soccer.

Higuain is preparing for his second full season in MLS with Inter Miami, having joined from Juventus in September 2020.

Although the striker's goalscoring exploits had regressed slightly towards the end of his time in Europe, Higuain was still regarded as a major coup for both Inter and MLS, where his older brother Federico has plied his trade since 2012.

MLS has previously been considered a competition where fading stars from Europe went to see out the remainder of their careers, with the likes of Thierry Henry, Andrea Pirlo, David Villa and Steven Gerrard all doing just that.

But the perception is changing slightly – it is becoming a proving ground for young talent, a viable stepping stone to Europe for South American players and even a place for established European stars who are still at the height of their powers.

Napoli forward Lorenzo Insigne highlighted the shift last month by agreeing an end-of-season move to Toronto despite being virtually in his prime. While any MLS switch for Messi, already 34, would look a little more like a final pre-retirement move, Higuain reckons he would enjoy himself.

"It is a very important league and it is growing a lot," Higuain told Stats Perform.

"Important players are coming and I think that in the future it will continue to grow much more.

"I hope [Messi goes to MLS] because it would be a benefit for MLS and for the country, and if he so wishes he would have fun and be happy here."

Inter begin their 2022 MLS campaign at home to Chicago Fire on Saturday, with the David Beckham-backed franchise hoping to enjoy a major improvement from last season.

Phil Neville's side finished 11th in the 14-team Eastern Conference in 2021, a place above Saturday's opponents, while their points total of 41 was better than only six teams across the two MLS divisions.

It would seem Inter may have struggled even more were it not for Higuain, who scored 12 times. His haul of nine non-penalty (np) goals matched up well with his np-xG (expected goals) of 8.7, suggesting the team could really profit from dependable finishing if the service to him improves.

And bettering that return in front of goal is high on Higuain's list of priorities.

"We are fine, looking forward to [the start of the season] and very excited," he said. "It's so close now, let's hope it goes better than last year and we learn from the mistakes made so that this year it doesn't happen again. We are excited to have a good year.

"I want to improve my numbers, which I did my whole career, improve year after year. I hope that this year I can do better to help the team qualify [for the playoffs] and be able to compete for MLS.

"I hope I can improve my numbers, that's my goal and that's what I've prepared this pre-season."

Kylian Mbappe to Real Madrid has often felt like a never-ending transfer saga, but it appears a resolution might now be in sight.

Los Blancos are apparently confident of getting the Paris Saint-Germain star in 2022 even though their performance did not impress him in the Champions League.

However, Madrid do have a back-up plan.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID CONFIDENT ON MBAPPE BUT MANE IS PLAN B

Real Madrid believe they will win the battle to sign Kylian Mbappe on a free transfer from Paris Saint-Germain in 2022.

Carlo Ancelotti's side are preparing to announce the deal at the end of the season, according to Goal.

However, should their efforts to sign Mbappe or Erling Haaland fail, Madrid have a back-up plan: Fichajes claims they will submit an offer for Sadio Mane.

ROUND-UP

Arsenal are interested in signing Joao Felix from Atletico Madrid, according to television show El Chiringuito.

Manchester United have been quoted €75million (£62.5m) for RB Leipzig star Christopher Nkunku, Bild says.

- Meanwhile, United striker Edinson Cavani is ready to listen to an offer to join Botafogo when his contract expires, Goal claims.

- According to Sport, Tottenham have submitted the firmest offer to sign Paulo Dybala from Juventus, but Barcelona and Inter are also interested.

Milan are resigned to losing Franck Kessie after this season and could replace him with Renato Sanches, Tuttosport says.

UEFA has decided to move the Champions League final from St Petersburg, according to the BBC. The game could be held in London.

Neymar has suggested he could move to Major League Soccer before hanging up his boots, rather than return to play in his native Brazil.

The 30-year-old has a contract with Paris Saint-Germain until 2025, and has scored 91 goals in 132 games since moving to the French capital in a world-record transfer from Barcelona in 2017.

He scored his first goal since returning from an ankle injury, but also saw a tame penalty saved by Alban Lafont in PSG's shock 3-1 defeat at Nantes on Saturday.

Speaking to the Fenomenos podcast, Neymar said: "I don't know if I'll play in Brazil again. I have some doubts about that.

"I'd love to play in the US actually. I'd love to play there at least for a season."

Neymar joked that he would benefit from the shorter regular season in MLS, adding: "Their season is shorter, so I'd get three months' vacation."

He has previously been linked with a move to Inter Miami, with co-owner David Beckham jokingly offering him a contract in an interview for Otro two years ago.

Neymar also said he remains unsure how long he will go on playing for, but that he intends to do so as long as his mental health will allow.

"I joke with my friends that I will retire when I'm 32. But it's just a joke. I don't know," he said.

"Honestly, I will play until I'm mentally tired. If my mental health is ok and my body as well. Physically, I think I'll still last a few years. But my mental health is the most important thing."

Neymar has criticised the connection between the Brazil national team and their fans as he questioned whether the Selecao are as important now.

Brazil became the first South American team to qualify for the 2022 World Cup, with Neymar set to take part in Qatar in November.

However, the Paris Saint-Germain forward, who missed a penalty in a 3-1 defeat to Nantes in Ligue 1 on Saturday, believes the Selecao's games are not talked about enough and there is no hype around their outings.

"Today the national team has distanced itself from the fans, I don't know why, but I see it through the games," Neymar told Ronaldo Nazario on the Fenomenos podcast.

"There is little comment, few people know when we are going to play. And that's bad, it's sad. In this generation of mine, when the national team plays, it's no longer important.

"When I was a child, the national team match was an event. You put the Brazilian flag in the window. There was a barbecue, there was cake and there was everything at home. It was quite an event. 

"Today it no longer has that importance, I don't know how we got to this stage. I hope that everything will come back, that the fans will once again support the Brazilian team. 

"That we'll be together to go in search of the World Cup, which is what everyone wants."

Neymar has endured a tumultuous relationship with Brazil, revealing last year that he was unsure whether he could manage another World Cup with the national side due to the mental stress it imposes on him.

Brazil remain unbeaten in their 15 CONMEBOL qualifiers for the World Cup, in which they next face Chile on March 24.

Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo hit out at the officials after the Parisians slipped to a 3-1 loss at Nantes, claiming referee Mikael Lesage favoured the hosts throughout their second loss of the Ligue 1 season.

PSG found themselves 3-0 down at half-time in an absorbing contest, during which both teams were awarded penalties, Ludovic Blas scoring from the spot for the hosts before Neymar's inexplicable second-half penalty miss halted a potential comeback from the visitors.

Meanwhile, home defender Dennis Appiah saw a first-half red card correctly overturned by VAR, before being fortunate to avoid a second booking when giving away PSG's spot-kick, and the visitors were enraged by Nicolas Pallois' tackle on Kylian Mbappe.

Speaking to Canal+ after the contest, Leonardo admitted the French league leaders did not perform well, but fumed at the officiating of the match.

"It was a tough game for us," the Brazilian said. "After a Champions League match, we knew we were the team to beat. We conceded two goals and it was deserved. 

"[But] afterwards, all the choices [of the officials] were against us. He announced a minute of added time [at the end of the first half] and then the [Nantes] penalty [eventually taken six minutes into injury-time] comes four minutes later. 

"I think there is an urge to whistle against us. The referee doesn't even whistle [for Pallois' challenge]. You risk players having three months out with an injury.

"Afterwards, Appiah concedes a penalty, and he does not give yellow when it would have been red [for two bookable offences].

"The match was no longer controlled, for us as well as for Nantes, it was completely out of control."

 

PSG's Italian midfielder Marco Verratti was one of the eight players booked during an ill-tempered affair, and was also incensed by the decision not to award Appiah a second booking for his 58th-minute foul on Mbappe.

"Sometimes the referee says we can talk to him, this evening, we couldn't at all," the 29-year-old told Canal+. "He's the only referee in the world who does things like that. 

"Normally, a penalty is a yellow card and therefore a red card. How is it possible not to show a yellow card [to Appiah]? I think the referees have to take responsibility because there, we were s*** on by the refereeing."

Despite holding a 13-point lead at the Ligue 1 summit, Mauricio Pochettino's team have only won three of their last nine away league matches (drawing four and losing two), after winning 11 of their previous 12.

Paris Saint-Germain fell to just their second defeat of the Ligue 1 season as Mauricio Pochettino's side were beaten 3-1 by Nantes at Stade de la Beaujoire.

Goals from Randal Kolo Muani, Quentin Merlin and a Ludovic Blas penalty handed the home team an incredible 3-0 half-time lead, with goalkeeper Alban Lafont starring for the hosts.

Neymar pulled one back immediately after the restart before seeing a soft penalty effort saved on the hour and Nantes held on for the win, moving into fifth place in the French top-flight.

PSG remain well clear at the top of Ligue 1, but this was not how Pochettino will have envisaged following up their impressive 1-0 win against Real Madrid in the Champions League in midweek.

Nantes took a shock lead just three minutes into the game with Kolo Muani rounding off an efficient break by flicking home just seconds after Juan Bernat had forced a good save from Lafont.

The Nantes stopper made an excellent save from Lionel Messi moments later, before Merlin fired a stunning left-footed strike into the top corner from the edge of the area on 15 minutes, his first goal of the season.

Lafont denied Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, and Idrissa Gueye in an inspired performance, before Dennis Appiah had a red card correctly overturned after a VAR check. 

Another VAR intervention gave Nantes a penalty before half-time that Blas hammered home after Georginio Wijnaldum's clumsy handball.

Lionel Messi is set to make the 800th senior appearance of his illustrious club career after being named in Paris Saint-Germain's squad to face Nantes.

The Argentina maestro is joined by Neymar in Mauricio Pochettino's 22-man travelling party for the trip to Stade de la Beaujoire, where the Ligue 1 leaders would move 16 points clear at the top with victory on Saturday.

Should he feature, as would be expected, Messi will reach the latest milestone of his glittering career, over 17 years after Frank Rijkaard handed him his Barcelona debut against Espanyol in October 2004.

The seven-time Ballon d'Or winner would make his 22nd appearance for PSG since joining from Barca on a free transfer, having scored seven times so far.

Messi, the Blaugrana's record appearance maker and scorer, played 778 times for Barca in all competitions, netting 672 goals.

Under Pep Guardiola, Messi played more games (219) and scored more goals (211) than with any other coach, while he is one of only two players to have netted 100 Champions League goals, with his tally of 125 behind only Cristiano Ronaldo's 140.

The 34-year-old is also approaching 1,000 career appearances, having won a record 158 caps for Argentina since his debut in 2005.

Meanwhile, Neymar is in contention to make his first start since suffering an ankle injury against Saint-Etienne in November.

The Brazil international, who returned as a substitute during Tuesday's Champions League win over Real Madrid, has endured a series of injury issues since his own move from Barcelona to Paris in 2017.

Indeed, he has failed to make over 20 Ligue 1 starts in a single season to date. 

Paul Pogba's future with Manchester United remains up in the air.

Pogba is out of contract at the end of this season and deferred contract talks with United.

The midfielder is reportedly open to offers with Pogba's agent Mino Raiola shopping him around.

 

TOP STORY – NEWCASTLE ENTER POGBA PURSUIT

Newcastle United have entered the race to sign Manchester United's Pogba, reports Fichajes.

The Magpies are hoping to land the 28-year-old France international on a free transfer, although it is unclear if he would entertain the move to a club that is currently battling relegation, albeit Newcastle will hope that will be different next season.

Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid and Juventus have also been linked with Pogba, who could also opt to stay at Old Trafford.

ROUND-UP

- Tottenham's Harry Kane will not decide on his future until the end of the season, after trying to join Manchester City last year, reports The Standard. Kane is currently not interested in discussing a contract extension with Spurs.

- Madrid have tabled a final offer for Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland claims Sport. Haaland has been pursued by several top clubs including PSG, Barcelona, United, Chelsea and Manchester City.

- Marca claims that Barcelona will swoop for Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen should he become a free agent this upcoming off-season.

- The Daily Star claims that Donny van de Beek will push for a permanent move away from Manchester United to Everton if his loan spell goes well.

- Milan are interested in Tottenham winger Steven Bergwijn, reports Calciomercato.

Mauricio Pochettino has moved to defend Lionel Messi after the Paris Saint-Germain forward's missed penalty against Real Madrid.

Although Kylian Mbappe's superb late winner put the Parisians on the brink of the Champions League quarter-finals, Messi's performance in the first leg drew criticism.

Since his first season in the competition (2004-05), no player has missed more Champions League penalties than Messi, who has failed with five spot-kicks.

But speaking ahead of PSG's Ligue 1 trip to Nantes on Saturday, Pochettino launched a strong defence of his fellow Argentinian.

"Messi is the best in the world," said former Tottenham boss Pochettino. "A player like him, with his experience, and what he means, is the essence of football.

"If you want to explain to someone what football is all about, it is Leo Messi.

"In no way will missing a penalty affect his confidence, that is impossible. If anyone thinks that, they do not understand this sport. 

"I am pleased with his performance. He played well [against Madrid], which was down to his ability to link difference pieces together on the pitch.

"Leo Messi is football."

Messi has struggled for consistency during a stop-start first season in French capital, netting just two league goals from an expected goals tally of 5.82, a notable underperformance of over three goals.

The former Barcelona captain was joined on the pitch against Real Madrid by Neymar, as the substitute provided the assist for Mbappe's match-winning strike with a sumptuous backheel.

Pochettino has confirmed the Brazilian is now in contention to make his first start since suffering an ankle injury against Saint-Etienne last November.

"Neymar could start [against Nantes]," Pochettino said on Friday.

"He has been doing well in training, and he has been very focused at every stage of his recovery, showing his commitment to get back to his best level and help the team.

"We hope that he is over these problems now, and through playing competitive games, that he can reach his best level."

Neymar has suffered a plethora of injury issues since making his own move from Barcelona to Paris in 2017, failing to make over 20 Ligue 1 starts in a single season to date. However, he has managed 59 goals and 34 assists in his 80 league appearances for the capital club.

Kylian Mbappe's name continues to dominate the transfer columns as he nears the end of his Paris Saint-Germain contract.

While Mbappe's future beyond this season remains uncertain, PSG appear to already have plans in place should he depart.

And if one superstar forward leaves the French capital, another could arrive in his place.


TOP STORY – PSG TO BRING IN RONALDO

According to The Mirror, PSG are looking to bring in Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United should they be unable to convince Mbappe to sign a new big-money deal.

Ronaldo only returned to Old Trafford last August, but the 37-year-old is said to be considering his future after an underwhelming campaign.

Should Ronaldo be tempted to move to Ligue 1, having already plied his trade in the Premier League, LaLiga and Serie A, he would get the chance to link up with Lionel Messi.

The pair have 12 Ballons d'Or between them and are regarded as two of the greatest players of all time.

ROUND-UP

- United are not expecting Paul Pogba to make a U-turn on his future by signing a new deal, according to the Manchester Evening News. The France international is set to become a free agent in four months' time and has been linked with PSG and former side Juventus.

- El Nacional claims that Chelsea are plotting a bid for Barcelona youngster Gavi. The Blues will reportedly have to pay £42million (€50m) to land the teenage midfielder, with other teams across Europe also showing an interest.

- Tottenham striker Harry Kane wants assurances that boss Antonio Conte will be backed in the next transfer window, suggests The Sun, after the Italian questioned the club's recruitment policy. That comes amid fresh rumours that Kane is considering his own Spurs future.

- According to Calciomercato, Real Madrid are ready to push ahead with plans to sign Kieran Tierney from Arsenal. Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti previously tried to sign Tierney during his time in charge of Napoli, but the Scottish left-back instead opted for the Gunners. 

- Manchester City are on the verge of getting a £5.4m deal over the line for Brazilian winger Savinho, says Fabrizio Romano. A medical is rumoured to have already been scheduled for the 17-year-old, who has impressed for Atletico Mineiro.

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