BRUGES: Paris Saint-Germain coach Mauricio Pochettino hinted on Tuesday that new signing Lionel Messi (Photo) would line up for the first time alongside Neymar and Kylian Mbappe in his side’s Champions League opener against Club Brugge.
The Argentine, who left Barcelona on a free transfer this summer, has yet to appear for the French side alongside the other two big stars and Pochettino is hungry to share the excitement of PSG fans.
“Messi, Neymar and Mbappé, together? I join this collective excitement, I’m like everyone else, I would be crazy not to want to see them play together, ”Pochettino said at a press conference ahead of Wednesday’s game.
“Will we see them together tomorrow?” Maybe yes … “
In more than a month since joining the club, Messi has been seen in the PSG jersey for just 24 minutes as a substitute in a Ligue 1 game in Reims.
The 34-year-old was due to make his full debut for the Qatari club last weekend, but he eventually rested against Clermont following his return from international duty with Argentina.
Pochettino, however, now looks set to release the six-time Ballon d’Or winner from the start at the Jan Breydel stadium against the Belgian champions in the Group A opener.
The coach, however, says Messi’s arrival is no guarantee of the Champions League success that PSG dreams of.
“With these names you can feel like we are ‘the team to beat’ but it’s Chelsea, the defending champions, who are the team to beat,” said Pochettino who led the former club from Tottenham to the Champions League final in 2019..
“They got stronger, spent a lot more money than PSG. But I have no problem.
“We are a club that bought a lot of players this summer and brought in some really big names but we have to convert it all as a team, like Chelsea did last year.”
The Argentina coach also warned against canceling Wednesday’s opponents.
“Club Brugge dominate the Belgian league,” he said.
“Physically, it’s a huge team, which can change systems, as I have seen in its last two matches, from 5-3-2 to 4-3-3.
“You need absolute focus and we have total respect for our opponent. There are only great teams in the Champions League.” – AFP