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Mauricio Pochettino reveals what Lionel Messi told him after bemused reaction to PSG substitution
21/09/2021 11:00:11

Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino insists there are no issues between himself and Lionel Messi after the former Barcelona star’s disgruntled reaction to being subbed off against Lyon.

The six-time Ballon d’Or winner made his first home start for the French giants on Sunday evening against Lyon but was taken off in the 76th minute with the scores tied at 1-1 and PSG searching for a late winner.

They eventually got it thanks to Mauro Icardi’s stoppage-time header, but it was Messi’s reaction to being substituted which created all the post-match headlines.

The 34-year-old looked bemused when his number was shown, shrugging his shoulders at his manager and barely acknowledging him as he left the pitch.

Pochettino – who has overseen six wins out of six games to start the new Ligue 1 season – has played down the exchange and says his decision to withdraw Messi was not controversial, particularly with PSG boasting such a big and talented squad.

‘I think everybody knows we have many great players in this 35-man squad,’ said the former Spurs boss afterwards.

‘Only 11 can play, we can’t play more. We have to make choices, within the matchday squad and then during the game. The decisions in the game are made for the good of the team and each player.

‘Every coach thinks about that. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes players like it and sometimes they don’t. At the end of the day, that’s why we’re here.

‘These are decisions that have to be made by the coach. As for his reaction, I asked him how he was, he said he was OK. That was it. That was our exchange. No issues.’

On the performance against Lyon, Pochettino continued: ‘It’s very positive for us. After the difficult game in Bruges, this was important for us. Lyon are a very good team that play well.

‘We conceded that goal in the second half. The team needed to show some character. We’re in a period where we’re trying a lot of things. We have to work on it in training, but it’s difficult because we have a game every three days, and the priority is that the players recover. We can only do video sessions. It’s not an excuse, we need to improve.’

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