Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe were unleashed together for the first time but Paris Saint-Germain had to settle for 1-1 Champions League draw at Club Brugge.

Mauricio Pochettino started with his formidable attacking trio at Jan Breydel Stadion on Wednesday, with Mbappe teeing up Ander Herrera for the opener after a mazy run on the left flank.

Many may have expected Brugge to crumble, however, they responded through Hans Vanaken's fifth goal in eight games in the competition.

Mbappe was forced off in the second half with a slight foot problem as PSG, despite their embarrassment of attacking riches, failed to kick-off their Group A campaign with a win.

The visitors started brightly, Mbappe dancing past Clinton Mata before finding Herrera, who opened the scoring after 15 minutes with a first-time left-footed strike into the bottom-left corner.

Mbappe should have added a goal of his own after being rolled through by Messi but his right-footed drive was beaten away by Simon Mignolet.

Brugge then stunned the star-studded away side, with Eduard Sobol driving down the left flank before cutting back to the penalty spot, where Vanaken powered past Keylor Navas for his seventh goal in the Champions League - the most in his club's history.

Messi looked to respond immediately but his left-footed strike smashed against the crossbar before Vanaken and Charles de Ketelaere were both denied by smart Navas saves.

Brugge almost took the lead after the break through Jack Hendry but Presnel Kimpembe produced an important last-ditch block, with Mbappe limping off moments later following a challenge from Stanley N'Soki.

Noa Lang acrobatically volleyed wide in another fright for PSG before substitute Nuno Mendes found Messi, who spurned a glorious opportunity to win the game as he blasted over.

Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe could feature together for the first time when Paris Saint-Germain tackle Club Brugge, Mauricio Pochettino has confirmed.

How the superstar trio perform as a unit could define PSG's season and Pochettino's reign with the French giants, after Messi's shock switch from Barcelona.

Some observers harbour concerns that fielding three such forwards together could leave PSG exposed in other areas. Yet if they click, then PSG could be a rampant force in the Champions League, the tournament they dearly want to win.

Asked if he would select all three on Wednesday in PSG's European opener, Pochettino said: "Maybe, yes. It is possible."

There is little doubt PSG have three of the world's best forwards, but developing a winning team around them is the challenge facing their Argentine head coach.

Speaking in the pre-game news conference, Pochettino was asked whether he was excited about the prospect of the three front players teaming up.

"I will have to get on board all the excitement because I know how excited everyone is," he said. "I would be crazy to think otherwise."

Across the last four Champions League campaigns, only six players have been directly involved in 30-plus goals in the competition, and Pochettino can call on three of those in Mbappe (37 involvements), Messi (36) and Neymar (31).

If Messi plays a part, he will be making his 150th Champions League appearance after previously turning out 149 times for Barcelona, scoring 120 goals and providing 35 assists so far.

However PSG eventually line up, their Belgian hosts may be privately fearing the worst. That is because the last time Club Brugge hosted the Parisians, they were beaten 5-0 in the 2019-20 Champions League – this remains Brugge's heaviest home defeat in European competition. Mauro Icardi scored twice, while Mbappe came on as a substitute and grabbed a hat-trick.

Pochettino knows many expect his team to be major challengers for Champions League glory this season, but he believes holders Chelsea will take some stopping. He also rates the London outfit, coached by former PSG boss Thomas Tuchel, as a model that PSG should look to follow.

"Chelsea are the holders and they are the team to beat, if there is one," Pochettino said. "They have also strengthened by signing good players and have spent a lot more money than Paris Saint-Germain.

"We are not a team yet. We are a club that has recruited many players this summer. There are some very big names, but we have to turn into a team in the way that Chelsea did last season.

"Chelsea are the team to beat because they achieved their targets. We are a group of players that need to achieve the target of becoming a solid team in order to get the results that we want.

"There are no timeframes. At Paris Saint-Germain, you will be judged on the results that you achieve. There is always pressure at every club and in this case at PSG the club has been targeting a dream for many years of winning the Champions League, and that is something that we cannot deny."

Lionel Messi will be the highest-rated player on FIFA 22 after EA Sports revealed the upcoming game's top 22.

The latest edition of the long-running title will be released at the start of October and will see Messi representing a team other than Barcelona for the first time.

Messi joined Paris Saint-Germain in August and will give gamers the chance to line up with him, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe all in the same front three.

With a rating of 93, Messi will be the game's best player, excluding icons and special Ultimate Team cards.

 

The ratings of Neymar and Mbappe were also among those revealed on Monday, with the pair among five players on 91 – the other three are Cristiano Ronaldo, Jan Oblak and Kevin De Bruyne.

Of course, the game will give Manchester United fans the chance to include Ronaldo in their Red Devils side after he completed his return to the club following a 12-year absence.

Messi aside, the only other player to be rated higher than Ronaldo is Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski.

He broke Gerd Muller's long-standing record of 40 Bundesliga goals in a single season in 2020-21 as he netted 41 times en route to the title.

 

But it was not enough to topple Messi.

Even in a season that was largely underwhelming for Barcelona, Messi still managed to score 30 LaLiga goals and he set up another nine – only four players had more assists.

This perhaps goes some way to explaining why the six-time Ballon d'Or winner just pips Lewandowski to top-billing despite the latter's historic campaign.

FIFA 22's top 22 players:

Lionel Messi, Paris Saint-Germain – 93

Robert Lewandowski, Bayern Munich – 92

Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United – 91

Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester City – 91

Kylian Mbappe, Paris Saint-Germain – 91

Neymar, Paris Saint-Germain – 91

Jan Oblak, Atletico Madrid – 91

Harry Kane, Tottenham – 90

N'Golo Kante, Chelsea – 90

Manuel Neuer, Bayern Munich – 90

Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Barcelona – 90

Mohamed Salah, Liverpool – 89

Gianluigi Donnarumma, Paris Saint-Germain – 89

Karim Benzema, Real Madrid – 89

Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool – 89

Joshua Kimmich, Bayern Munich – 89

Son Heung-min, Tottenham – 89

Alisson, Liverpool – 89

Thibaut Courtois, Real Madrid – 89

Casemiro, Real Madrid – 89

Ederson, Manchester City – 89

Sadio Mane, Liverpool – 89

Mauricio Pochettino has confirmed Lionel Messi and Neymar will not play against Clermont, while reaffirming that Kylian Mbappe is perfectly happy at Paris Saint-Germain.

Messi, who made his PSG debut at Reims before the international break, and Neymar both played as late as Thursday in respective World Cup qualifiers for Argentina and Brazil.

While Neymar scored and provided an assist in Brazil's 2-0 win over Peru, Messi netted a hat-trick against Bolivia, surpassing Pele as the all-time leading goalscorer for a South American nation in the process. Argentina subsequently celebrated their recent Copa America triumph with fans finally allowed back into the stadium in Buenos Aires.

Angel Di Maria and Leandro Paredes also featured for Argentina and Pochettino said a common-sense approach dictated none of the players would be involved in Saturday's home match against newly promoted Clermont.

"Di Maria, Paredes, Neymar and Messi, due to common sense, they are not going to be involved in the squad tomorrow," Pochettino told a news conference, though PSG's coach is hoping to have Mauro Icardi, Presnel Kimpembe and Mbappe – who suffered a calf injury while on France duty – will be fit to feature.

 

Mbappe was at the centre of one of the biggest stories of the recently closed transfer window, with PSG rejecting three bids from Real Madrid for their star striker.

The 22-year-old only has a year left to run on his contract and reports have suggested Madrid are confident he will sign for them as a free agent in 2022. For now, though, he remains at PSG, where Pochettino insists he is content.

"Mbappe is happy. He is emotionally stable. Before the end of the transfer window and now, he has stayed in the same positive mindset with the desire to play and enjoy himself," he said.

"So we are happy with how he is feeling. He has been training and recovering from the injury that he picked up on international duty. We hope he can be available tomorrow."

While PSG have incredible star power in attack, Pochettino has been keen to point out there is a balance to be struck. Indeed, his side conceded five goals across their opening three Ligue 1 fixtures and though they sit pretty on 12 points from four matches, the former Tottenham boss knows there is work to do.

"I think all the players at PSG are stars. Some might play more or less, but they are all stars," added Pochettino, who is also set to be shorn of Marco Verratti on Saturday.

"PSG as a club is bigger than any individual. We have a squad of around 35 players, they all need to feel important. In terms of managing the squad, which is our job, we need the tools so that the 35 players can feel at home and accept their place but at the same time, there are some fantastic names.

"We have to make sure they work as a team because this is a team sport and that is a big challenge that we face. I have been saying that since the start, so we are going to work hard so that it is not just about the names of Kylian, Neymar or Messi, but so that everyone feels comfortable.

"They all need a team, a structure and an organisation to win games so that has to be our main thought. We all drive towards that."

Two of PSG's latest arrivals are yet to make their debuts. Euro 2020 winner Gianluigi Donnarumma has been on the bench for the last two games, while Sergio Ramos is still working his way back to fitness.

Asked if Donnarumma could make his bow against Clermont, Pochettino replied: "We haven't decided yet who is going to be in goal. We have different options – Donnarumma is one of those options."

Pochettino also confirmed Saturday's game, as well as next week's Champions League meeting with Club Brugge, would come too soon for former Madrid captain Ramos.

"Ramos is still undergoing recovery and will not be available for that match," he explained.

"He is following the steps. We want all the players to be available as quickly as possible but it is not something that worries me. I am sure Sergio will recover well and be available soon."

Neymar complained he does not get the respect he deserves after breaking another record to help Brazil remain perfect in their World Cup qualifying campaign.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward scored a tap-in having earlier set up Everton Ribeiro as Brazil saw off Peru 2-0 in Recife on Thursday.

That was the Selecao's eighth win from eight matches on the road to Qatar 2022 and ninth qualifying victory in a row overall, which equalled the longest streak in CONMEBOL history.

Neymar's strike saw him overtake Romario and Zico as Brazil's highest scorer in World Cup qualifiers on 12 goals, half of those coming in the current campaign.

He is also now just eight behind legendary forward Pele's all-time record of 77 goals for Brazil, scoring his 69 goals in 113 appearances.

But after coming in for more criticism following Brazil's 1-0 win over Chile last week, with some suggesting he was overweight, Neymar has hit back at his critics.

"Obviously, the team is the most important," he told TV Globo. 

"I'm very happy to be the top scorer in the qualifiers, have the most assists for the national team and soon, if all goes well, it will be an honour to pass Pele as the all-time scorer.

"I don't know anymore what I have to do for people to respect me. This is normal, it's been a long time. Reporters, commentators, others too.

"Sometimes I don't even like to talk in interviews anymore, but at an important moment I come to show up. I leave it to the guys to think a little bit."

 

With their latest victory, Brazil are the first South American team in qualifying history to keep nine consecutive clean sheets at home.

Tite's men remain six points clear of second-placed Argentina, who beat Bolivia 3-0 thanks to a Lionel Messi hat-trick, and are on the verge of sealing a spot at Qatar 2022.

"It's another good result and our winning sequence continues but we haven't mathematically qualified yet," Casemiro added. 

"We have to continue to work hard but we know that we're on the right track."

Brazil, whose high-profile match with Argentina last Sunday was farcically suspended early in the game, return to action in early October with a trip to bottom side Venezuela.

Neymar scored one and set up another as Brazil maintained their perfect record in CONMEBOL 2022 World Cup qualifying with a 2-0 victory over Peru in Recife on Thursday.

Playing for the first time since Sunday's qualifier against Argentina was controversially suspended mid-game, Selecao netted twice in a lively first half to set up the win.

Brazil's opener came in the 14th minute when Neymar laid off for Everton Ribeiro, who scored the winner in last week's 1-0 triumph in Chile.

Neymar grabbed the second goal five minutes before the break, the Paris Saint-Germain star tapping home from close range as Brazil made it eight wins from eight games on the road to Qatar 2022.

On a night when Argentina's Lionel Messi overtook Pele as the leading goalscorer in South American history with a hat-trick, Neymar's strike took him to 69 for Brazil, moving within eight of the Brazil great.

Both sides had early chances in a lively opening, with Gabriel 'Gabigol' Barbosa having an effort blocked while Gianluca Lapadula shot over for Peru.

Peru goalkeeper Pedro Gallese made a strong save with his left arm as Gerson broke forward, firing on target on his left.

Brazil broke the deadlock in controversial circumstances after Neymar bundled over Anderson Santamaria and raced down the byline to centre for in-form team-mate Ribeiro to side-foot home – Peru's protests fell on deaf ears.

Lucas Paqueta almost doubled Brazil's advantage with a 34th-minute chance, before Neymar scored Selecao's second goal six minutes later.

Danilo passed for Gabigol, whose cutback fell to Ribeiro. The Flamengo midfielder's shot was blocked into Neymar's path for a point-blank finish.

Peru substitute Gabriel Costa's 72nd-minute cross-cum-shot tested Brazil goalkeeper Everton as the depleted hosts, missing several key players unable who were not released by their Premier League clubs, seemed content with the victory.

Veteran Brazil substitute Hulk rounded Gallese late but blasted wide on his preferred left foot.

Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman believes new signing Luuk de Jong is more dangerous than Neymar from crosses.

LaLiga giants Barca raised eyebrows when they signed Dutch forward de Jong from rivals Sevilla on loan at the end of the transfer window.

De Jong had been linked with a potential return to former club PSV in the Eredivisie and was shunted down to third choice at Sevilla following the signing of Rafa Mir from Wolves.

But late on deadline day, cash-strapped Barca – who already lost superstar Lionel Messi on a free transfer – allowed Antoine Griezmann to depart for Spanish champions Atletico Madrid and the Blaugrana replaced the Frenchman with de Jong on a temporary deal for 2021-22.

Koeman hailed countryman de Jong, who he feels is superior to Paris Saint-Germain star and former Barca forward Neymar in one department.

"When there's a cross coming in, Luuk is more dangerous than Neymar," Koeman told NOS.

"He's a different kind of forward to what we have, and I think all teams should have one like him."

De Jong averaged 1.1 headed shots per 90 minutes in LaLiga last season, a figure bettered by only four strikers (minimum 900 minutes played).

Similarly, just four forwards bettered his 0.36 headed shots on target per 90 minutes as well.

What makes that figure slightly more impressive is the fact Sevilla would not be considered a 'direct' team. According to Opta data, Julen Lopetegui's men only recorded 35 'direct attacks' last season, the second-fewest in the division, whereas Barcelona's 67 was the third-highest.

A direct attack is defined as a sequence that begins just inside the team's own half and has at least 50 per cent of movement towards the opposition's goal and ends with a shot or touch in the box, so while that does not necessarily mean Barca smash long balls to the front man constantly, it does suggest Koeman's setup will provide de Jong with chances to be useful.

Koeman added: "I told the club last year [that I wanted to sign de Jong].

"I wanted to be able to change my forwards. If the game calls for someone like Luuk, then he'll play.

"We lost Antoine Griezmann on the last day of the window and only had three forwards.

"I first made contact with Luuk on August 8 and, even before that, I wondered why Barcelona didn't have a guy like that."

Paris Saint-Germain's star-studded 25-man Champions League squad does not feature Juan Bernat, Sergio Rico or Rafinha.

PSG made some outstanding additions in the recent transfer window, signing Achraf Hakimi, Georginio Wijnaldum, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Sergio Ramos and, of course, Lionel Messi, before adding full-back Nuno Mendes on deadline day.

The Ligue 1 giants also kept hold of Kylian Mbappe, reportedly rebuffing three offers from Real Madrid. Madrid's final bid for Mbappe, whose contract runs out at the end of the season, was rumoured to be in the region of €200million, but PSG did not blink.

A major factor in their resolve may well have been the desire to win the Champions League.

Thomas Tuchel guided PSG to the final in 2020 before Mauricio Pochettino saw his team slip to a semi-final defeat to Manchester City last term, but with Mbappe, Messi and Neymar leading their attack, the Parisians are big contenders to finally end their wait for European glory.

PSG have been drawn against Manchester City in Group A, alongside RB Leipzig and Club Brugge.

Pochettino's 25-man squad for the competition was released on Friday, with a wealth of options at his disposal.

Bernat, who was a key player under Tuchel but missed most of last season with a severe knee injury, is not included, with Layvin Kurzawa and Mendes the left-back options, while Abdou Diallo has been filling in there.

Goalkeeper Rico also fails to make the cut, as does former Barcelona midfielder Rafinha, who at one point looked set to move out before the transfer deadline.

Messi, Neymar and Mbappe spearhead a fearsome list of attacking options that also includes Mauro Icardi and Angel Di Maria, while Donnarumma takes his place as one of four goalkeepers. PSG have included eight youth players as reserves, taking the total count to 33.

Ramos is yet to feature since his arrival from Madrid, but the veteran centre-back is due to return to action this month.

PSG kick off their Champions League campaign against Brugge on September 15.

A whirlwind day last Friday saw Manchester United reach an agreement with Juventus to bring Cristiano Ronaldo back to the club.

The deal was confirmed just hours after it had looked likely the Portugal star would be heading to Premier League champions Manchester City instead.

According to reports, United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer encouraged the club to enter the race when it began to seem inevitable Ronaldo would head to the Etihad Stadium. Contact from Bruno Fernandes, Rio Ferdinand and even Alex Ferguson helped persuade Ronaldo that a return to Manchester could mean only one thing.

It all made for a short-lived but extraordinary transfer saga that ended with United re-signing a player who made history with the club between 2003 and 2009, winning three Premier League titles, the Champions League and the first of his five Ballons d'Or.

Here, Stats Perform looks at some other deals that caused a shock in the sporting world...

 

Lionel Messi: Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain, 2021

In the most sensational free transfer of all time, PSG again laid down a marker to the football world with the signing of Lionel Messi on a two-year contract. Just as he looked to sign a new Barcelona contract, the club informed him that their dire financial situation meant they could not bring their greatest ever player back under LaLiga's salary restrictions after his previous deal expired in June. A tearful Messi said farewell to the only club he had ever played for before heading to the fanfare of Paris and a reunion with Neymar.

Neymar: Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain, 2017

The Brazilian had formed a potent attacking trio with Messi and Luis Suarez at Camp Nou but a move to PSG was inevitable when the French side met his world-record buyout clause of €222million. He has played an important role in their continued dominance of French domestic football but has so far been unable to guide them to Champions League glory. He was reduced to tears by his side's 1-0 defeat to Bayern Munich in the 2020 final and then failed to inspire the team in the 2021 semis as Manchester City knocked them out.

LeBron James: Cleveland Cavaliers to Miami Heat, 2010

Basketball icon James announced he would sign with the Miami Heat instead of returning to his hometown team, the Cleveland Cavaliers. Then a two-time NBA Most Valuable Player and a six-time All-Star, James added to the spectacle of the stunning move by announcing it on a special television broadcast called The Decision. He enjoyed four years in Miami, where he won a pair of NBA titles, before returning to the Cavaliers in 2014. 

Tom Brady: New England Patriots to Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2020

Few people expected Brady to leave the Patriots after 20 years and six Super Bowl victories. Not only did one of the game's greatest ever quarterbacks leave, but he joined one of the least successful franchises in NFL history and instantly guided them to glory, leading the Buccaneers to the franchise's second Lombardi Trophy with a 31-9 triumph over the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV.

Luis Figo: Barcelona to Real Madrid, 2000

Should Messi ever return to Camp Nou as an opposition player it is unlikely he will be on the receiving end of the kind of abuse that greeted Figo. Barca fans threw bottles, lighters and even a pig's head at the Portuguese star when he went back to Camp Nou with Los Blancos in the seasons following his controversial move.

Wayne Gretzky: Edmonton Oilers to Los Angeles Kings, 1988

In 1988, the Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings agreed a deal that shook the NHL to its core. The trade left Canada in disbelief, with a member of the country's parliament even proposing the federal government block the trade or buy Gretzky's contract and sell it to another Canadian team. "The Great One" would go on to enjoy eight successful years in Los Angeles before spells with St. Louis Blues and New York Rangers.

Manchester City top FIFA's list of the biggest spenders on internationals transfers in the past decade.

The world governing body on Monday revealed $48.5billion worth of player trading was done between 2011 and 2020.

Premier League champions City have spent big on the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Ruben Dias during that period, so it is no surprise they top the list.

Chelsea and Barcelona are second and third respectively on the list - which does not state how much each club spent in total.

Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid make up the top five, while 12 of the top 30 clubs, who alone have spent €19.3billion in the time period, are from England.

Neymar's move from Barcelona to PSG was for a world record fee of €222m, while Madrid brought in Eden Hazard from Chelsea for a deal that could reportedly climb to €175m (£150m).

Barcelona have the next two largest transfers, with Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele joining from Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund respectively.

Argentina forward Angel Di Maria also holds two slots in the top 10 of the highest individual transfers, his deal to join Manchester United from Madrid in 10th with his subsequent move to PSG a place higher.

Players of 204 different nationalities have been transferred since 2010-11, Brazil way out in front with 15,128 moves.

Agents have played a hugely increasing role in international transfers, with their involvement growing 69.1 per cent from 2011 to 2020.

From €131.1m worth of commissions in 2011 to €640.5m in 2019, a total of €3.5bn was paid for agents' commissions in international transfers over the course of the decade. 

Lionel Messi is poised to make a brief Paris Saint-Germain debut after being left on the bench for their Ligue 1 game at Reims.

Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, the latter heavily linked with a move to Real Madrid, were both included in Mauricio Pochettino's starting XI at the Stade Auguste-Delaune.

Pochettino opted to leave Messi out of PSG's win over Brest last time out despite the former Barcelona star training with his new team-mates following his sensational exit from Camp Nou.

However, he confirmed to Amazon Prime on Sunday that Messi would at least play a cameo role against Reims.

He said: "He's [Lionel Messi] is going to be on the bench.

"He arrived late in the pre-season. He's working hard, he can have a few minutes today to start helping the team."

Kylian Mbappe is at the centre of one of the biggest transfer stories as the deadline approaches, but he was still named in Paris Saint-Germain's squad on Sunday as Lionel Messi looks set for his debut.

Mbappe has been the subject of two bids from LaLiga giants Real Madrid, though PSG are reportedly refusing to enter negotiations for the 22-year-old, who only has a season left to run on his deal.

Whether PSG buckle before Tuesday's deadline remains to be seen, but Mbappe trained as usual this week and Mauricio Pochettino insisted on Saturday that the France star had not told him he wished to leave the club.

Pochettino also confirmed Mbappe, along with Messi and fellow superstar forward Neymar, would travel for the clash with Reims and all three were subsequently named in the 22-man squad revealed on Sunday.

Mbappe scored his first goal of the Ligue 1 season in last week's 4-2 win over Brest, while Messi is still awaiting his debut since a shock move from Barcelona earlier this month.

Neymar, who guided Brazil to the Copa America final – a clash that Messi's Argentina won 1-0 – also makes his return to the fold having missed PSG's first three matches this season.

Angel Di Maria scored Argentina's winner against Brazil and also netted on his comeback against Brest, and with Mauro Icardi injured, Pochettino seems likely to pick three of the aforementioned players to start at Stade Auguste-Delaune.

"Kylian Mbappe is working very hard and is preparing for [Sunday's] game," Pochettino said on Saturday.

"In terms of communications with our president and sporting director, they have made it clear what the club's stance is in this regard."

Asked for an update on the situation after Madrid's win over Real Betis, Carlo Ancelotti told reporters: "We should stick to talking about the game because the rest is a matter for the club, who are working on it.

"I don't know the details at this stage."

Lionel Messi could be in line to make his Paris Saint-Germain debut as Mauricio Pochettino confirmed the former Barcelona star will be in the squad for Sunday's meeting with Reims.

PSG, who have won their opening three Ligue 1 fixtures, travel to Reims for their final match before the international break.

Messi, signed on a free transfer from Barcelona earlier this month, did not feature against Brest last time out despite having trained with his new team-mates, while Neymar was also absent.

As speculation continues over the future of Kylian Mbappe amid interest from Real Madrid, Pochettino confirmed that Messi, Neymar and the aforementioned France star would all be involved in some capacity on Sunday.

"They will certainly all be in the squad, so we will see if they are in the starting 11 tomorrow," Pochettino told a news conference.

"We will assess how he is doing and then see if he is in the squad or not. I haven't given a precise answer yet, so I think it is normal for there to be doubts about that.

"When we sign a player, we try not to have big expectations, but to discover and find out information when we are together. Every club is different so you cannot make comparisons.

"What we are finding out about Leo is that he is a professional and a great player, although we do not need to say that. He is adapting very well to his new club, new team-mates and a new environment."

 

Asked how Messi will fit into PSG's style of play, Pochettino said: "We are a team that likes to play on the front and keep possession. So, I think that is also what he is used to doing.

"For a player like him, he will certainly play a key role in the French league – regardless of the different attributes that the league has compared to England and Spain – because we are talking about one of the best if not the best player in the world.

"I don't think there will be any issues of him settling in, and he is looking forward to making his debut and helping the team reach its objectives."

With Messi and Neymar waiting to feature, Mbappe opened his account for the season in the 4-2 win over Brest. The 22-year-old has been involved in four of PSG's past seven goals against Reims in Ligue 1 (two goals, two assists).

While goals had escaped him until last week, Mbappe has attempted (25) and completed (13) the highest tally of dribbles in Ligue 1 so far this term, as PSG look to extend an unbeaten run on the road in the league to 11 matches.

Paris Saint-Germain "must build a team" from their vast array of talent, so says Mauricio Pochettino.

Lionel Messi has headlined five new star recruits at PSG this transfer window, with Gianluigi Donnarumma, Achraf Hakimi, Sergio Ramos and Georginio Wijnaldum also linking up with Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Co.

Messi has trained this week, but he and Neymar were not involved as PSG beat Brest 4-2 on Friday.

However, it was once more the absence of Marquinhos - who was on the bench after his break following the Copa America - and Ramos, who will not be available until September, which was felt the most as PSG conceded twice for the second match running. In total, they have now let in five goals across their three games.

Though it has not stopped them taking all nine points on offer so far, Pochettino knows he has to strike a balance.

"It was a very close match. We started well, we led 2-0 by dominating the match," he told a news conference.

"We should have scored one more goal, it was an open game that gave the opponents some chances. We suffered in the last 10 minutes. I'm very happy to take three points on difficult ground, against a team that has started the season well. 

"We are at the start of the season, we can see how difficult it is for all the teams to win a game. There are things to improve. In defence, we have to prevent the transition play which can hurt us.

“We have a lot of names of players that shine, but we have to build a team, that's the challenge. It won't be easy, we have to find a balance between the talents that we have. It will take time."

It was a sentiment echoed by Presnel Kimpembe, who put in a disjointed display at the back while wearing the captain's armband.

"We know that we were playing an away game against a team not easy to play," the France international told Amazon Prime Video.

"The team is not yet complete, we still have links to create. There are new players, we have to adapt."

One major bonus from Friday's win was Mbappe getting his first goal of the campaign, nodding in what was just his fourth headed goal in Ligue 1, and his first in the competition since March 2017.

Angel Di Maria also made a goalscoring return, with the Argentina playmaker lobbing in PSG's fourth to settle the contest just nine minutes after his introduction.

Mauro Icardi trudged off injured late on, which may well open the door for the formidable front three of Messi, Neymar and Mbappe to start against Reims next week.

"The week [of training] has been very good for Leo, so we hope that next week he will already be part of the team," said Pochettino, who also confirmed Icardi would undergo scans over the weekend.

Kylian Mbappe opened his account for the 2021-22 season as Paris Saint-Germain, still without Neymar or Lionel Messi, defeated resilient Brest 4-2.

With Messi and Neymar not judged ready for Friday's game by Mauricio Pochettino, Mbappe scored his first of the season with what was just his fourth headed goal in Ligue 1.

Mbappe put PSG 2-0 up, with Ander Herrera having opened the scoring, but Keylor Navas' error handed Brest a reprieve.

Idrissa Gueye's long-range strike seemed to have settled the contest, though it was ultimately substitute Angel Di Maria who had to wrap up the points after Steve Mounie had pulled another one back.

Mbappe's six attempts across the opening two Ligue 1 games failed to yield reward and the France star might have done better in the fourth minute, with his close-range shot saved well by Marco Bizot, though an expected goals (xG) figure of 0.065 suggested it was a difficult chance.

With Marco Verratti also going close, PSG's dominance told when Herrera tried his luck with a volley which crept in under Bizot, who did better to stop Achraf Hakimi doubling PSG's tally.

Little blame could be attached to Bizot soon after, however, with Mbappe charging in to get his head on a loose ball and divert a looping effort into the right-hand corner.

Navas had to hold his hands up at the other end before half-time, with PSG's shot-stopper failing to prevent Franck Honorat, the benefactor of Romain Faivre's exquisite flick, scoring despite getting a hand on the shot.

PSG's frustrations grew as they looked to add to their lead, yet Bizot's vulnerability from long shots came to the fore again as Gueye's dipping effort from 35-yards out evaded his grasp.

Navas atoned for his earlier mistake by denying Ronael Pierre-Gabriel, though Mounie did set up a grandstand finish with a cool 85th-minute finish.

There would be no fairytale comeback, however, with Di Maria – just nine minutes into his return – lobbing Bizot on the break to seal the points.

What does it mean? Defence a major concern for Pochettino

It is hard to imagine PSG not storming to the title this season, given the supreme quality at Pochettino’s disposal, yet first the former Tottenham boss simply has to get things sorted at the back.

PSG were, once more, all at sea defensively. Without Marquinhos, who has only just returned to the squad, Presnel Kimpembe delivered a performance hardly representative of his experience, while Thilo Kehrer looked out of his depth in the middle.

Five goals conceded in three games is a huge warning sign, and while Marquinhos and Sergio Ramos will no doubt help matters, Pochettino has to get the balance right.

Mbappe gets his head up

Mbappe thought he had opened his account for the season last week, only for his goal to be retrospectively put down as an own goal from Strasbourg's Ludovic Ajorque.

However, he got on the goal trail on Friday with what was his first headed goal for PSG since October 2019, and his first in Ligue 1 since March 2017, when he nodded in for Monaco.

Navas feeling the pressure?

Given Navas has been such an excellent signing for PSG, it was no surprise to see eyebrows raised when they moved to secure Gianluigi Donnarumma. However, the Italy goalkeeper was on the bench on Friday, and his hopes of immediately usurping the Costa Rican as first choice may have been boosted.

Though Honorat's chance for Brest's goal late in the first half was a good one (an xG of 0.353 means that, at that stage, it was the second-best opportunity in the game), Navas got down to what was a relatively weak shot, only to flap at it. With such an exceptional goalkeeper in reserve in the form of Donnarumma, the former Real Madrid man must do better to keep his place.

Fortunately for Navas, his blushes were somewhat spared by Bizot, who should have done far better for two of PSG's strikes. Indeed Gueye's winner had an xG of just 0.015 – the lowest of any attempt all game.

What's next?

PSG are away again – at Reims – before the international break, meaning Messi's debut may still well come on the road. It seems likely, with Mauro Icardi having gone off injured late on. Brest face Strasbourg in their next outing.

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