Is Pochettino under huge pressure at PSG after Messi arrival?
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Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino has revealed what Lionel Messi told him after the legendary forward was surprisingly substituted during the club’s win over Lyon. PSG were chasing a late goal when Pochettino chose to withdraw Messi, who incredibly appeared to snub a handshake from his coach.
The iconic former Barcelona player was starting a Ligue 1 match for the first time, having previously only appeared from the substitutes’ bench.
He started in a devastating front three alongside Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.
However, it was Lyon who took the lead. Lucas Paqueta scored nine minutes into the second half.
Neymar then equalised from the penalty spot before Messi was surprisingly withdrawn. Video footage captured the frustrated Argentine appearing to decline a handshake from Pochettino as he departed the field.
Messi exchanged words with Pochettino before taking his place on the bench. The 34-year-old watched on as Mauro Icardi scored the winning goal in added time.
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Pochettino was quizzed on the incident after the game but has insisted that Messi told him he was fine with the decision.
The former Tottenham head coach told journalists that he withdrew Messi to protect the striker from injuries.
“I took the decision to take Leo off to protect him from possible injuries. We have important games coming up and we want to protect him,” Pochettino said.
“These are decisions that we make for the good of the team. Everyone knows we have great players.
“We have a very rich squad of 35 players. Then we have to make choices. With the 11 who must start and then we have to make decisions during the game.
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“Sometimes these choices pay off and sometimes they don’t. But that’s why we’re standing in front of the bench thinking about what to do. And those decisions that you have to make, whether things go well or not. Whether you like it or not.
“Afterwards, Messi told me he was fine with the decision.”
Messi sensationally joined PSG in the summer after he was blocked from signing a new contract with Barcelona.
His contract with the La Liga side, with whom he had spent 21 years, expired at the end of June. He would therefore technically have been a new signing and Barca have struggled to register their fresh arrivals.
Barca have accrued huge debts and a La Liga rule prevents its clubs from spending over a certain percentage of their turnover on wages.
Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets accepted wage cuts to allow the likes of Sergio Aguero, Memphis Depay, Eric Garcia and Luuk De Jong to play in the Spanish top-flight.
Messi joined PSG on a free transfer but is yet to score for his new club.
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