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September 22, 2021

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Injured Messi out of Metz clash today

Lionel Messi will miss Paris Saint-Germain’s game away to Metz today due to a knee injury which coach Mauricio Pochettino has said was the real reason behind his surprise decision to take the six-time Ballon d’Or winner off against Lyon at the weekend.

The Argentine star underwent an MRI yesterday after taking a knock to his left knee during Sunday’s 2-1 win. Results showed signs of bone bruising, the club said in a statement.

Messi was replaced by Achraf Hakimi, a full-back, after 76 minutes against Lyon, on his first home appearance as a PSG player since arriving from Barcelona.

The 34-year-old appeared to reject Pochettino’s hand as he walked past his coach towards the Paris bench but the former Tottenham Hotspur boss later defended his decision to take Messi off without mentioning the injury.

Yesterday he admitted that Messi’s fitness was the reason he made the change with the scores level at the time.

“On the touchline we are always observing the players, seeing what is happening during the match, and we saw that Leo was looking at his knee,” Pochettino told reporters.

“We are pleased with the way he played. He played very well in the first half, and the only thing missing was a goal.

“He played for 76 minutes and with all the information we had we decided to take him off,” added Pochettino, who said he accepted that substituting a player of Messi’s status might surprise observers.

“Of course I understand the situation and I accept it as it is.

“It is not a surprise for me, but the priority is always the well-being of the player and in this case we thought it was the best thing for him to take him off.

Stoppage-time headed goal

“All great champions always want to be on the pitch and that is understandable.”

Mauro Icardi’s stoppage-time headed goal secured victory for PSG against Lyon, leaving the team with six wins out of six in Ligue 1 this season and already five points clear of second-placed Marseille, albeit having played a game more.

It will be expected to keep its run going away to a Metz side which is winless and props up the division, although Pochettino may heavily rotate his squad.

PSG is at home to Montpellier at the weekend, when it remains to be seen if Messi will return. The club then hosts Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League next Tuesday.

“We have a squad of 35 players. They all deserve to play but there are not enough places,” admitted Pochettino.

The Argentine manager has also come in for criticism for the way his all-star team played against Lyon and in last week’s 1-1 draw at Belgium’s Club Brugge in the UCL.

Those were the first two matches in which Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe had all played together, but Pochettino says he needs time to get his ideas across.

“In general, in the past, in normal times, you had six or seven weeks in preseason, lots of friendly matches to work on things.

“Now we need to try things as we go along, during games. It is not a situation we like much but we have to get used to it.”

There is a full round of games in France today with Jorge Sampaoli’s Marseille aiming to continue its unbeaten start away at Angers.


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