Friday, January 21, 2022

Messi remains absent for Brest clash, confirms Pochettino

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 14 Jan 2022

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Paris Saint-Germain will continue to be without Lionel Messi for their Ligue 1 clash with Brest, with the Argentinian due to rejoin the squad next week, the club has confirmed. 

Messi was ruled out of PSG’s 1-1 draw at Lyon after testing positive for COVID-19, and the Parisians managed just three shots on target in his absence, struggling to make their dominance of possession count.

“Having made good progress, Lionel Messi is continuing to work with the club’s medical and performance staff, and will gradually rejoin the squad next week”, read a fitness update issued by the club.

Head coach Mauricio Pochettino also addressed Messi’s fitness in his pre-match press conference, but refused to comment on whether Messi would leave Paris to represent Argentina in their World Cup Qualifiers at the end of January.

“No, Leo is not available for Saturday”, the former Tottenham boss said. “Leo is better, but he is still under the supervision of the medical department.

“We hope he can be back in the squad as soon as possible.”

When it was asked whether Messi had made a decision not to represent the national team in their forthcoming fixtures, Pochettino was non-plussed, responding: “I don’t know what decision you are referring to.

“He is being assessed daily, and we can’t get ahead of ourselves. We hope everyone is back as soon as possible, to be available for the team.”

Messi has endured a frustrating season in Paris, and has produced the largest underperformance in Ligue 1 when looking at Expected Goals and Expected Assists figures. The Argentine has accumulated 4.93 Expected Goals and 4.4 Expected Assists in Ligue 1 this season, but registered just five goal involvements (1 goal, 4 assists). 

Meanwhile, Pochettino refused to be drawn on Neymar’s recovery, but admitted that the Parisians have missed the Brazilian, with the league leaders winning just one of their five Ligue 1 matches since the winger suffered ankle ligament damage in November.

“Neymar is following his recovery plan.

“He is a very important player. He has tremendous quality, and I think that any team would miss a player like Neymar”. 

Reports from RMC Sport suggest that Neymar could make his long-awaited return when PSG travel to French champions Lille on February 6, giving him time to get up to speed ahead of PSG’s huge UEFA Champions League clash with Real Madrid on February 15.

Neymar has produced three goals and three assists in 10 Ligue 1 appearances this term, and will be crucial to Pochettino’s hopes of bringing the Champions League trophy to Paris.

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