No rift with Messi, says Pochettino

Lionel Messi was substituted due to injury, said Paris St Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino.
Lionel Messi was substituted due to injury, said Paris St Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino.

Mauricio Pochettino, head coach of Paris St Germain, has denied there is a rift with Lionel Messi. He said Messi was substituted at the weekend substitution because of a knee injury which has put in doubt the Argentine's fitness for next week's Champions League tie with Manchester City.

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

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.

Speaking ahead of Wednesday night's trip to Metz he said: "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, but Pochettino added: "Of course all top players want to be on the pitch at all times, that is understandable. I am calm about it."

Australian Associated Press