Mauricio Pochettino has insisted PSG have shown no lack of respect by talking about their desire to sign Lionel Messi from Barcelona on a free transfer in the summer.
Messi handed in a transfer request in the summer of 2020 following Barcelona’s chaotic season on and off the pitch. His lofty release clause meant he was unable to force an exit, but the Argentinian’s contract expires in June 2021, enabling him to leave the club for nothing.
PSG are considered one of the few clubs in world football who possess the financial muscle to land the six-time Ballon d’Or winner, and both players and members of the club’s hierarchy have discussed the possibility of signing Messi in recent weeks. This has been criticised by Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman and presidential candidate Joan Laporta.
Pochettino himself has always remained diplomatic regarding the rumours, and insists no harm was meant by his colleague’s comments.
“When a player speaks, he is talking out of affection, excitement and friendship,” the PSG boss said (via ESPN). “There’s no controversial issue that has been generated by the club. At no time has there been a lack of respect or gone against a situation that is not the correct one.
“Players can talk and can say what they want. They do so from feelings, just as Real Madrid and Barcelona players do. They can talk about teammates that are at other clubs.”
PSG sporting director Leonardo began stoking the flames in January when he stated that players like Messi ‘will always be on PSG’s list’. Laporta – who has had the future of Messi front and centre of his presidential campaign – hit back with a dig at PSG’s financial fair play record.
Messi’s international teammate Angel Di Maria admitted that he ‘hopes’ the diminutive forward signs for PSG – comments that Koeman criticised for having a ‘lack of respect’.