Subbed off after 75 minutes in the game against Lyon on Sunday, Lionel Messi sparked a heated debate after apparently not agreeing with Mauricio Pochettino’s decision. Messi put on a puzzled face as he was passing by Pochettino, with the media around the world questioning his integration into the team.
The Paris Saint Germain manager defended his choice, saying Messi needed to be protected. Pochettino also said that he’s in the PSG hot seat to make decisions, adding that he spoke to Messi and there are “no issues” between them. “We need to think of what’s best for the team and each player. Decisions can be positive or not, they can be liked or disliked,” Pochettino said. “I asked him how he was and he said he was fine, no issues,” the PSG boss assured.
On Tuesday, PSG announced that Messi will miss the team’s next league game vs Metz because of an injury. Medical tests confirmed Messi had a bone contusion. “Lionel Messi, following a blow received to his left knee, had an MRI which confirms the signs of bone contusion,” PSG stated.
Further tests will determine how long he needs to stay out before returning on the pitch.
PSG has a busy schedule ahead, with games against Montpellier (Sept. 25), Manchester City (Sept. 28), and Rennes (Oct. 3) in addition to the match vs Metz on Wednesday. That makes four games in just 12 days.
Messi is yet to score in the PSG shirt. He featured in three games since his transfer in August, but hasn’t contributed with goals or assists to his new team.
— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_inside) September 20, 2021
Pochettino: ‘We saw he was checking his knee and we acted’
On Tuesday, in a press conference before the Metz match, Pochettino came back with fresh words regarding Messi’s situation.
“The club already released a statement about what he had and I think it’s quite clear,” the coach said. “We saw he was checking his knee on the sidelines with gestures and you could also notice he had an issue when he took a shot.”
Pochettino’s intuition was right. His decision to sub Messi off prevented a potential aggravation of his injury.
“He’d had a good first half and we were happy with his performance, but we decided to take him off based on the information we had,” Pochettino said. “I understand the media reaction, but our priority is always to look out for the player. The best players always want to be on the pitch, so I’m not surprised Messi wanted to continue.”
PSG is at -385 to win against Metz on Wednesday, with the hosts at +900. A draw stands at +500. PSG won the maximum number of points after six games, 18, as they sit top of the French Ligue 1. The Paris giants are already five points clear of second-placed Marseille.