Pochettino believes Brest triumph gives PSG confidence for Real Madrid tie

By Sports Desk January 15, 2022

Mauricio Pochettino believes that Paris Saint-Germain's win over Brest can give them confidence for their Champions League tie with Real Madrid.

Runaway Ligue 1 leaders PSG sit 11 points clear at the summit after cruising to a 2-0 victory over Brest at Parc des Princes on Saturday.

Kylian Mbappe opened the scoring with his 10th Ligue 1 goal of the season, meaning he has now hit double figures in six straight league seasons – in that period, no other player has managed to do so more than three times – before Thilo Kehrer sealed the three points.

With Madrid to come in the Champions League last-16 in February, Pochettino insisted that his side can use the triumph as a base to build confidence.

"Every game, every competition is different," he told reporters at his post-match news conference. "But this performance, especially in the second half, gives us confidence. 

"It reaffirms certain ideas and concepts that we must work on. It's true that the team was good and did what we expected.

"We started well but then we lost a few balls and we got into trouble. In the second half we made better decisions. 

"We saw good collective play, we controlled the match. I am happy with the involvement of all the players. We had better circulation by being aggressive. Yes, I am satisfied, because it was not an easy game.

"We would have liked to win more broadly so that it corresponds to the number of chances we created. But the most important thing is to get chances. 

"We know that we have players who have the goals in their legs. If they didn't score today it will be next time."

Pochettino also had time to introduce centre-back Sergio Ramos for his home debut after the hour mark.

And the former Tottenham head coach suggested that the Spain international could offer him a different dimension with his team, with the option of playing a three-man defence.

He responded to reporters when asked about deploying three defenders: "It is an option. Everything is possible in football. We can consider it. We have already done this during the match. 

"It's not just putting in players but yes, it's an option."

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  • Mbappe stays at PSG: Renewal is 'better than any signing' – Evra Mbappe stays at PSG: Renewal is 'better than any signing' – Evra

    Kylian Mbappe's decision to stay on at Paris Saint-Germain is "better than any signing" for the Ligue 1 champions, according to Patrice Evra.

    Mbappe was widely expected to leave PSG as a free agent and sign for Real Madrid but, in a sensational twist, the 23-year-old signed a new three-year contract with the French side.

    The striker's mother and agent confirmed on Friday that Mbappe had agreed terms with both clubs and would make a decision over the weekend.

    On Saturday, reports in France and Spain suggested Mbappe would remain at PSG and reject Madrid's offer, and the news was confirmed just before Mauricio Pochettino's team took on Metz.

    And for ex-Manchester United, Juventus and Marseille defender Evra, that news is wonderful for not only PSG, but French football as a whole.

    "I'm really surprised because I genuinely thought he was going to Real Madrid," Evra told Stats Perform.

    "But great news, what news for PSG, for France. Even if I played for Marseille, I really want a French team to win the Champions League.

    "Now I think they really want to win the Champions League, keeping Kylian Mbappe – what great news, this is amazing. It's better than any signing for PSG."

    Evra added to reporters after a team of United legends took on a team of Liverpool legends in a charity game at Old Trafford: "The project, they're going to focus on a player like Mbappe.

    "He's professional, he's hungry, he wants to win the Ballon d'Or, win the league, win the Champions League. What a win for all the French league."

    Evra's former team-mate Louis Saha added: "Football is crazy, nobody could predict [this]. It's the only situation in the world to see such a player be a free agent.

    "It's amazing. It's up to him to make those decisions. It's what we want, that's for sure. Keep on going, wherever he is playing."

    Jamie Carragher, meanwhile, was surprised by Mbappe's decision, though is sure the World Cup winner will end up playing in LaLiga eventually.

    "I'm surprised, I thought he would go to Real Madrid," the ex-Liverpool defender told Stats Perform.

    "It's a big surprise that one, actually. But I'm sure he'll make that move at some stage. Real Madrid or Barcelona or one of the big giants. 

    "I'd love to see him in the Premier League I really would, but he looks like he's got a few more years before he moves to Spain."

  • Mbappe stays at PSG: LaLiga claims deal shows 'state clubs' ignore spending rules, demands UEFA probe Mbappe stays at PSG: LaLiga claims deal shows 'state clubs' ignore spending rules, demands UEFA probe

    LaLiga has demanded an investigation into how Paris Saint-Germain have been able to fund a blockbuster new contract for Kylian Mbappe.

    The Spanish league body, headed by president Javier Tebas, said it would ask UEFA and authorities in France and at the European Union to investigate the financial affairs of the Ligue 1 champions.

    Mbappe's new deal was confirmed on Saturday just before PSG's final Ligue 1 match of the season against Metz

    The World Cup winner has signed a deal until 2025, turning down an offer from Real Madrid. It can be reasonably assumed the 23-year-old has penned one of the most lucrative deals in the sport's history.

    PSG have been able to attract the likes of Neymar, Lionel Messi and Sergio Ramos away from LaLiga clubs, and Tebas said in a Twitter comment that the French club's president Nasser Al-Khelaifi had become "as dangerous as the Super League".

    LaLiga later issued a statement that made savage comments about PSG's business model.

    It said a deal such as the agreement with Mbappe "threatens the economic sustainability of European football, putting hundreds of thousands of jobs and sporting integrity at risk in the medium term, not only from European competitions, but also from our domestic leagues".

    The statement added: "It is scandalous that a club like PSG, which last season lost more than 220million euros, after having accumulated losses of 700million euros in recent seasons ... with a cost of sports staff of around 650million for this 21-22 season, can reach an agreement of these characteristics while those clubs that could accept the arrival of the player without seeing their wage bill compromised, are left without being able to sign him.

    "For all of the above, LaLiga is going to file a complaint against PSG before UEFA, the administrative and tax authorities in France and before the competent bodies of the European Union, to continue defending the economic ecosystem of European football and its sustainability."

    PSG have previously denied breaching financial fair play rules.

    LaLiga's statement also directly attacked Al-Khelaifi, saying it hoped that "he would refrain from carrying out these practices knowing the serious damage they cause", given he holds down senior administrative roles in European football.

    "This type of behaviour led by Nasser Al-Khelaifi... is a danger to European football at the same level as the Super League," the Spanish league's statement said.

    It added that PSG's spending "undoubtedly implies non-compliance with the current economic control regulations not only of UEFA, but of French football itself".

    Al-Khelaifi has been president at PSG since October 2011, with Qatar Sports Investments orchestrating dramatic change at the French club, bringing a host of global superstars to the Parc des Princes.

    Manchester City, under Abu Dhabi-led ownership, are another club who have spent heavily and achieved a level of success in recent years that had been unprecedented in their history. Newcastle United, meanwhile, are now majority owned by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund.

    LaLiga said of PSG's spending: "These behaviours denote even more that the state clubs do not respect or want to respect the rules of an economic sector as important as football, key to the sustainability of hundreds of thousands of jobs."

  • Mbappe stays at PSG: Real Madrid reeling but still have options to net a superstar striker Mbappe stays at PSG: Real Madrid reeling but still have options to net a superstar striker

    Real Madrid will have been left shaken by Kylian Mbappe's decision to snub them in favour of a new contract at Paris Saint-Germain.

    It was common knowledge that Madrid wanted to bring in Mbappe and shape their team around the France striker for the next decade.

    The Spanish champions have been used to getting what they want, but this time they have failed to land their number one target, with PSG's financial muscle surely a major factor.

    Now Madrid president Florentino Perez must consider the club's next course of action. Do they rely on Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior next season, or has there been a back-up plan in case Mbappe reached this decision?

    Here, Stats Perform looks at players that Madrid could consider if they remain intent on bringing in a forward in the close season.

    Richarlison (Everton/Brazil)

    After five years spent fumbling around mid-table and the lower reaches of the Premier League with Watford and latterly Everton, Richarlison seems long overdue a move to a club where he might challenge for honours. The 25-year-old has previously been linked with Madrid and Barcelona, and more recently Manchester United, and he would bring a roving threat to any side he joins. Capable of playing wide or in the centre, or flitting between roles, Richarlison has reached double figures in Premier League goals in three of his four seasons with Everton, and in a World Cup year this could be the ideal time to move for the striker. Should he dazzle at Qatar 2022, that price tag could go skywards.

    Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain/Brazil)

    PSG were desperate to retain Mbappe, but would they feel the same way about Neymar? Five years into his PSG career, Neymar is now 30 years old and this is the first season when he has managed more than 20 league appearances for the Parisians. Injuries have disrupted his stay at the Parc des Princes, and while he remains a wonderfully gifted player and a joy to watch at times, if PSG want to recoup a chunk of the huge outlay that brought him to Paris from Barcelona, now might be the time for that. It would be an impudent approach for Madrid to make, and Neymar's Barcelona history adds a further complication, given the rivalry, but the player himself may be tempted.

    Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich/Poland)

    If Madrid have a statement signing in mind to ease the pain of missing Mbappe, then joining the race for Lewandowski and gazumping Barcelona would be one way of going about that. Lewandowski has told Bayern he wants to leave, and ideally before next season. Barcelona are certainly interested, but their financial problems are well known. Could Madrid be better placed to land the highest scorer from Europe's top five leagues this season? Lewandowski hit 50 goals in 46 games across all competitions for Bayern, with Madrid's Benzema second on the list and Mbappe third. Whether Madrid would want a player who turns 34 in August when they already have a 34-year-old frontman in Benzema is a moot point.

    Paulo Dybala (Juventus/Argentina)

    Mbappe would have arrived in Madrid on a free transfer, given his contract at PSG was coming to an end. If their priority is to pick up a forward without an initial transfer fee outlay, then Dybala becomes an option. Roma and a host of Premier League clubs have been linked with the Argentina international, whose Juventus contract is expiring. He has scored at least 15 goals in five of his seven seasons with Juve, and would bring a creative presence to Madrid, and bundles of trophy-winning experience.

    Christopher Nkunku (RB Leipzig/France)

    If Madrid cannot have Mbappe for now, then his and Benzema's France team-mate Nkunku looks like a strong alternative option. With 34 goals in 51 games for Leipzig this season (prior to Saturday's DFB-Pokal final), Nkunku has proven himself in Germany and in European competition, and the obvious next step is a move to a super-club. The 24-year-old PSG academy graduate pipped the likes of Lewandowski and Erling Haaland to be named the Bundesliga's player of the year, underlining his status as a growing force in the game.

    Mohamed Salah (Liverpool/Egypt)

    Would they want Salah, or would they prefer his team-mate Sadio Mane? Either way, a Madrid approach could be Liverpool's worst nightmare. Both Salah and Mane have contracts that run to the end of next season, and they have again been tearing it up this term for the quadruple-hunting Reds. They are hot property and are coming to the point where they are considering probably the last bumper contracts of their careers. Would they fit in at Madrid? Both have the flair and finishing class that suggest they would be ideal acquisitions, and Madrid will get a close-up look in the Champions League final.

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