Monday, September 27, 2021

Messi leaves Barcelona: PSG working hard to improve the team – Pochettino

SoccerNews in La Liga 6 Aug 2021

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Mauricio Pochettino admits Paris Saint-Germain are “working hard” to improve the team amid strong links to free agent Lionel Messi.

PSG open a new Ligue 1 season with a trip to Troyes on Saturday, though Pochettino’s pre-match media conference understandably saw a focus on the possibility of a big-name arrival in the French capital.

Messi is looking for a new team after Barcelona confirmed they will not be signing the Argentina superstar to a new deal on Thursday, ending his long association with the club as they grapple with financial issues and LaLiga salary restrictions.

The 34-year-old was said to be a target for PSG a year ago when he wanted to leave Camp Nou, only to end up staying put to play out the final year of his contract.

Pochettino confirmed sporting director Leonardo and president Nasser Al-Khelaifi are looking into making further additions to the first-team squad.

“As I said before, we are focused on the start of the season,” the PSG boss said.

“At the same time, the club is working hard and discreetly in the transfer window to improve the team in order to reach the goals set for this year.

“Regarding Messi, we know what happened yesterday, but we are focused on the Troyes game and the desire to have a good game to start the season.

“Leonardo and our chairman are working to improve the team.”

When the subject of Messi was raised again later, Pochettino replied: “In Messi’s case, it’s the quality of a player of this caliber that counts.

“The club works hard, assesses options and of course Messi is one. But our priority is to prepare well for the match against Troyes.”

PSG have already had a busy window, bringing in goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, centre-back Sergio Ramos and midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum on free transfers, as well as signing Achraf Hakimi from Inter.

Not all the new faces will be involved against Troyes, with Pochettino confirming Ramos will have to wait to make his debut as the Spaniard recovers from a calf injury.

Kylian Mbappe could feature from the outset, however, having missed the Trophee des Champions defeat to Lille last weekend.

The France international’s own future at PSG is the subject of much speculation as he moves into the final year of his current deal, with Real Madrid reportedly determined to sign the former Monaco star.

“He is at the disposal of the team,” Pochettino said. “There is a high percentage chance that he will start the game.”

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