Paris Saint-Germain coach Mauricio Pochettino has said his club and players have not created any controversy or shown “a lack of respect” by talking up their interest in signing Lionel Messi on a free transfer from Barcelona.
PSG sporting director Leonardo and players Neymar and Angel Di Maria have spoken about the club’s desire to sign Messi, who is out of contract in June.
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“When a player speaks, he is talking out of affection, excitement and friendship,” Pochettino said. “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.”
Di Maria, an Argentina teammate of Messi, recently said there was a “big chance” that the Barca superstar would move to Paris, prompting Barca coach Ronald Koeman to brand PSG “disrespectful” and accuse the French club of creating tension ahead of the Champions League round-of-16 first leg between the sides at the Camp Nou on Feb. 16.
Lionel Messi’s future is the subject of intense speculation. Eric Alonso/Getty Images
France Football this week even published an image of Messi wearing a PSG jersey and calculating how much it would cost the Ligue 1 giants to have Messi in the team.
“We are talking about a magazine that has nothing to do with Paris [PSG],” Pochettino said of France Football’s image.
Koeman, fed up with the subject of Messi’s future, said on Tuesday that if PSG wanted to speak about his player, to “let them do it,” but added he didn’t know “why they do it.”
Messi, 33, wanted to leave the club he has spent his entire career at last summer but he was forced to make a U-turn when the Catalan giants demanded his €700 million release clause instead of negotiating his departure.
Messi’s name has featured prominently during Barca’s upcoming presidential elections with all candidates stressing their desire for Messi to remain.
The Argentina captain is expected to wait until the end of the season to decide his future, giving him time to see how Barca perform on the pitch this season and what the new club president, who will be elected on March 7, will offer him.
PSG are not the only club interested in Messi, with Manchester City also monitoring his situation.