Paris Saint-Germain coach Mauricio Pochettino hinted on Tuesday that new signing Lionel Messi would line up for the first time alongside Neymar and Kylian Mbappe in his side’s Champions League opener against Club Brugge.
The Argentine, who left Barcelona on a free transfer in the summer, has yet to appear for the French side alongside the two other big-name stars and Pochettino is hungry to share the excitement of the PSG fans.
“Messi, Neymar and Mbappe, together? I join this collective excitement, I’m like everyone else, I would be crazy not to want to see them play together,” Pochettino told a press conference ahead of Wednesday’s game.
“Will we see them together tomorrow? Maybe, yes…”
In more than a month Messi since he joined the club, Messi has been seen in a PSG jersey for just 24 minutes as a substitute in a Ligue 1 game at Reims.
The 34-year-old had been expected to make his full debut for the Qatar-owned club last weekend but in the end he was rested against Clermont after returning from international duty with Argentina.
Pochettino, however, now looks set to unleash the six-time Ballon d’Or winner from the start at the Jan Breydel Stadium against the Belgian champions in the Group A opener.
The coach, though, says that the arrival of Messi is no guarantee of the Champions League success that PSG crave.
“With those names, you can get the feeling that we are ‘the team to beat’ but it is Chelsea, the defending champions, who are the team to beat,” said Pochettino who led previous club Tottenham to the Champions League final in 2019.
“They have strengthened, spent much more money than PSG. But I don’t have a problem.
“We are a club that bought a lot of players this summer and recruited some very big names but we must convert all of this as a team, as Chelsea did last year.”
The Argentinian coach also warned against writing off Wednesday’s opponents.
“Club Brugge are dominating the Belgian league,” he said.
“Physically, it’s an enormous team, which can change systems, as I saw in their last two matches, from 5-3-2 to 4-3-3.
“You need absolute concentration and we have total respect for our opponent. There are only great teams in the Champions League.”