Saturday, January 29, 2022

More to come from PSG in 2022, promises Pochettino

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 21 Dec 2021

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Paris Saint-Germain will improve in 2022, says Mauricio Pochettino, who is satisfied with the progress he has made at the club so far.

PSG head into their final Ligue 1 game of the year, against Lorient, 13 points clear at the top of the table.

It has been a mixed bag for Pochettino since he took over in January, replacing Thomas Tuchel.

He took PSG to the Champions League semi-finals, where they were eliminated by Manchester City, who would go on to lose to Tuchel’s Chelsea in the final.

Pochettino celebrated his first trophy as a coach, winning the delayed 2020 Trophee des Champions, and won the Coupe de France last season, but PSG finished second in Ligue 1 behind Lille.

They are firmly on course to regain that crown this season, with superstar Lionel Messi having arrived to form a formidable attacking trident with Neymar and Kylian Mbappe. Sergio Ramos, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Georginio Wijnaldum, Achraf Hakimi and Nuno Mendes also signed in a sensational transfer window.

However, doubts linger over Mbappe’s future, with PSG rejecting Real Madrid’s advances, but the 23-year-old is out of contract at the end of the season. Pochettino’s future is also up in the air, with links to Manchester United not going away.

Asked for his thoughts on his first year in the job, Pochettino told a news conference: “You could compare the first six months and the last six months.

“I think it has been positive, because in the first few months you have to settle in, although I already knew the club, it was still new and the start of a project.

“Joining a club that I wanted to be at, where I played, with incredible supporters, I think that is my best memory. We have also achieved some of the success we wanted but I feel the best is to come next year.

“There aren’t many bad memories. The most important thing is health, a key topic at the moment during this pandemic, so bad things in sport don’t affect us in the day-to-day.

“The bad things are this pandemic made us live in a different way and has caused so much harm to loved ones, in many cases.”

PSG have played 62 games in all competitions under Pochettino in 2021, with only two sides in Europe’s top five leagues – Chelsea (62) and Man City (65) – playing more.

Only City (51) and Bayern Munich (42) have managed more wins than PSG’s tally of 41, with Pochettino’s side also ranking third for goals scored (128), while they have lost 10 times in total.

Mbappe has played the most games under Pochettino, tallying 53 appearances, five more than second-ranked Danilo Pereira.

The forward’s 43 goals, at an average of one strike every 104 minutes, is way out in front of any other player, with Mauro Icardi next on 15.

Mbappe also leads the way for assists (16), but while Messi has gradually worked his way into consistency since signing from Barcelona, it has been a poor year for Neymar by his own standards.

The Brazil star came 16th in the Ballon d’Or voting and has played just 33 times, directly contributing to 19 goals (11 scored – six were penalties – and eight assists).

Neymar, who is injured, and the rest of PSG’s South American contingent will be given freedom to return home over Christmas, with Pochettino happy to give his squad a break.

“It has been a year of a pandemic and there have been very high levels of competition,” he said.

“Due to the competitiveness and the fact we are pleased with how we are doing, we are going to be back on January 1 to work hard.

“As for the South American players who are going to spend time with their families, they should be back on the 31st, so they have seven or eight days to recover with a specific plan. They will be ready to play at Vannes on January 3.”

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