PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino plays down talk of rift with Lionel Messi after substitution

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 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino has dismissed suggestions he is already at loggerheads with Lionel Messi following the forward’s arrival from Barcelona this summer.

Pochettino substituted the 34-year-old - who appeared to be struggling with a knee problem - during Sunday’s 2-1 victory over Lyon in Ligue 1 but Messi’s reaction suggested he was not pleased with the decision.

However, after PSG confirmed Messi had undergone a scan on his left knee and is awaiting a full assessment of the damage ahead of next week’s Champions League clash with Manchester City, Pochettino insisted there was no issue.

He told a press conference ahead of Wednesday night’s trip to Metz: “In order to explain, on the sidelines we observe all the players and everything that is happening during games. We saw that Leo Messi was checking his knee and made some gestures. We saw that when he took a shot.

“I was pleased with his performance. He did very well in the first half. I am pleased with his commitment and performance. All that was missing was a goal.

“In his 75 minutes on the pitch - as I have explained - with all the information that we had, we made the decision to substitute him.”

Messi’s bemused reaction sparked something of a controversy, but Pochettino added: “Of course all top players want to be on the pitch at all times, that is understandable. I am calm about it.”

PSG, who host City next week, had earlier issued a statement on the former Barcelona star’s fitness.

The statement read: “Lionel Messi, who took a knock to his left knee against Lyon, underwent an MRI on Tuesday morning which confirmed signs of bruising of the bone. A follow-up examination will be carried out in 48 hours.”

Additional reporting by PA.

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