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PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino responds to Lionel Messi rift talk

Paris St Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino has played down talk of a rift with Lionel Messi as the Argentina superstar faces a battle to be fit for the Champions League clash with Manchester City.

The 34-year-old was replaced during the second half of Sunday’s 2-1 Ligue 1 victory over Lyon, although appeared to be less than happy with the decision.

However, after PSG confirmed Messi had undergone a scan on his left knee and is awaiting a full assessment of the damage, Pochettino insisted there was no issue.

He told a press conference ahead of Wednesday night’s trip to Metz: “In order to explain, on the sidelines we observe all the players and everything that is happening during games. We saw that Leo Messi was checking his knee and made some gestures. We saw that when he took a shot.

“I was pleased with his performance. He did very well in the first half. I am pleased with his commitment and performance. All that was missing was a goal.

“In his 75 minutes on the pitch – as I have explained – with all the information that we had, we made the decision to substitute him.”

Messi’s bemused reaction sparked something of a controversy. Pochettino added: “Of course all top players want to be on the pitch at all times, that is understandable. I am calm about it.”

PSG, who host City next week, had earlier issued a statement on the former Barcelona star’s fitness.

The statement read: “Lionel Messi, who took a knock to his left knee against Lyon, underwent an MRI on Tuesday morning which confirmed signs of bruising of the bone. A follow-up examination will be carried out in 48 hours.”

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Marquinhos snubbed Chelsea

Meanwhile, Chelsea tried to sign Paris Saint-Germain defender Marquinhos this summer, according to a report.

Chelsea put £85m on the table for the Brazilian defender, so much was Thomas Tuchel’s desire to be reunited with the player.

The 27-year-old centre-back worked under Tuchel during the manager’s time in Paris.

Chelsea were hunting for a centre-back in the summer with Jules Kounde understood to be Tuchel’s top target. A move for the Sevilla star never materialised though with the LaLiga club moving the price on the France international.

Just where the club’s efforts to Marquinhos’ fit on the timeline is unclear. But French outlet RMC Sport claim Tuchel was actively chasing a deal for the PSG man.

Tuchel wanted to reunite Thiago Silva with Marquinhos and had set aside €100m. The outlet though, who refer to “English sources” say that both PSG and the player turned down the potential transfer.

READ MORE: Close friend of ‘worn out’ PSG star brands transfer ‘a mistake’

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