Monday, September 27, 2021

Pochettino praises influential Messi after PSG debut in win over Reims

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 29 Aug 2021

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Mauricio Pochettino revealed how Lionel Messi has already had an impact on his Paris Saint-Germain team-mates after the new superstar signing made his long-awaited debut for the club.

Messi was introduced as a 66th-minute substitute during PSG’s 2-0 win over Reims on Sunday, coming on to replace former Barcelona colleague Neymar in the Ligue 1 fixture.

His brief cameo saw him complete 20 of his 21 attempted passes while he was also fouled three times, the six-time Ballon d’Or winner having received a rousing reception upon his introduction from both the home and away fans inside the stadium.

Pochettino was pleased to see his fellow Argentinian settle in quickly to life in French football, revealing how the 34-year-old’s presence has lifted his squad as they bid to reclaim the league title.

“He brought serenity to the team. It’s important to get off to a good start, even for him,” the PSG head coach said after Messi’s maiden appearance.

“He was happy and he is well integrated into the group. It was a matter of common sense not to start him in this game.

“The welcome was something very beautiful to see and hear, from our supporters but also from the fans of Reims. Messi was very happy about it.

“The motivation for competition is there for everyone, but his presence brings optimism. Everyone feels it, he has an influence on the other players.”

While Messi may have been the main attraction heading into the fixture, Kylian Mbappe stole the show with both goals.

His brace amid speculation over his future helped PSG make it four wins from four at the start of the new league campaign, leaving them top of the table heading into the international break.

Pochettino was particularly pleased to keep a first clean sheet this term too, albeit they benefited from a VAR check that ruled out a possible Reims equaliser for offside.

“It is a significant success for us. We didn’t concede a goal, which was one of our main targets before this match,” the former Tottenham boss told the media.

“This is not always obvious because the fitness levels are very different from one another. Some players were returning today.

“We are at 12 points. I’m happy before these two weeks of international break.”

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