Mauricio Pochettino defends Lionel Messi substitution in late PSG win

The No30 is still seeking his first goal for his new club - though came close to doing so before being subbed off

Karl Matchett
Monday 20 September 2021 13:39
comments

Lionel Messi cut a frustrated figure after being substituted for Paris Saint-Germain at the weekend, with manager Mauricio Pochettino opting to remove the star summer signing despite the need to find a late winner against Lyon on Sunday night.

Earlier in the match the former Barcelona star had struck the frame of the goal directly from a free-kick, before PSG had to come from behind following Lucas Paqueta’s fine finish. Neymar then won a contentiously given penalty which he dispatched himself for the equaliser.

Messi was then subbed off for fellow summer arrival Achraf Hakimi with 15 minutes to play as PSG sought a winner and he appeared disenchanted with his manager’s decision, offering a short word as he walked past Pochettino and seeming to ignore the head coach’s attempted handshake.

It was another substitution that ultimately swung the points PSG’s way, as Kylian Mbappe’s cross was headed in by Mauro Icardi deep into stoppage time to seal the 2-1 win.

Asked after the game about his decision to remove the six-time Ballon d’Or winner while his team needed a goal, Pochettino defended his call by explaining many players in the squad have a big role to play - and played down any talk of discontent from his compatriot.

“Everyone knows we have great players in the squad, we have 35 players,” he said.

“But we must make decisions for the good of the team. Sometimes they lead to a positive result and sometimes not.

“These are decisions we need to take. Sometimes it pleases people, or it doesn’t. I asked him how he was, and he said he was fine.”

PSG are top of the table with a 100 per cent record after six games, but were held to a draw in the Champions League by Club Brugge in midweek.

Messi has played three times for PSG since signing from Barcelona, with upcoming games against Metz, Montpellier and Manchester City across the next eight days.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments