Pochettino Reacts To Lionel Messi Handshake Snub After Substitution Against Lyon
Pochettino Reacts To Lionel Messi Handshake Snub. Mauricio Pochettino has played down Lionel Messi’s handshake snub during Paris Saint-Germain’s 2-1 win over Lyon on Sunday night in Ligue 1.
Lionel Messi refused to shake hands with Mauricio Pochettino after being substituted as PSG came from behind to beat Lyon on his home debut.
While his eternal rival, Cristiano Ronaldo, has wasted little time in making Manchester his kingdom once more following his return to United from Juventus, the Argentine has experienced a more modest beginning to life in Paris.
Having arrived lacking fitness in mid-August after his shock Barcelona exit, Messi, 34, only made his first start in Wednesday’s Champions League opener in Bruges, as PSG were held to a 1-1 draw.
PSG kept up their 100 percent Ligue 1 record this season with a comeback victory at the Parc des Princes.
Lucas Paqueta gave Lyon the lead early in the second period, before Neymar levelled the scores from the penalty spot.
The game looked set to end in stalemate until substitute Mauro Icardi headed home a 93rd minute winner.
PSG’s perfect record sees them lead the Ligue 1 table, five points clear of bitter rivals Marseille.
However, with 15 minutes remaining in the game, Pochettino took off Messi who did little to hide his frustration, refusing to shake hands with the ex-Spurs boss as he trudged to the bench. Now, more than a month after being unveiled in Paris, Messi, 34, was granted a hero’s reception as he finally made his first appearance at the Parc des Princes, starting in attack alongside Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.
Messi started in a No.10 position with Neymar to his left, Angel Di Maria to his right and Mbappe leading the line.
Pochettino says he makes subs for the team after Messi hauled off v Lyon
The 34-year-old was at the heart of most of PSG’s attacks and had his moments during the first half, notably being denied by Anthony Lopes when clean through on goal just before the half hour mark.
There, Messi did little to hide his unhappiness.
Shortly afterwards, the former Barcelona superstar hit the crossbar with a 30-yard free kick, before PSG were hit by a sucker punch early in the second period.
Karl Toko Ekambi raced down the left wing and found a low cross, which Lucas Paqueta turned past a helpless Gianluigi Donnarumma.
Neymar would equalise shortly after, the Brazilian winning a penalty before coolly converting from 12 yards.
Messi had noticeably tired during the second half, but was surprised and noticeably unimpressed when his No.30 was shown on 75 minutes, as Pochettino brought on Achraf Hakimi.
Messi, frustrated, made his way to the touchline, and appeared to snub Pochettino, as the ex-Spurs boss went to shake hands.
Messi day cut an unhappy figure on the bench for the remainder of the game, which PSG duly won as another substitute, Mauro Icardi, headed home from close range in the 93rd minute, to continue their 100 percent start to the new Ligue 1 campaign.
Speaking post-game, Pochettino insisted there were no problems with Messi, saying his compatriot understood his decision.
“I took the decision to take Leo off to protect him for possible injuries. We have important games coming up and we want to protect him.
“These are decisions that we make for the good of the team. Everyone knows we have great players.
“We have a very rich squad of 35 players. Then we have to make choices. With the 11 who must start and then we have to make decisions during the game.
“Sometimes these choices pay off and sometimes they don’t.
“But that’s why we’re standing in front of the bench thinking about what to do. And those decisions that you have to make, whether things go well or not. Whether you like it or not.
Speaking after the game, Pochettino suggested that he withdrew Messi in order to protect him for future fixtures.
“I took the decision to take Leo off to protect him for possible injuries. We have important games coming up and we want to protect him,” he explained.
“These are decisions that we make for the good of the team. Everyone knows we have great players, we have to make choices. Sometimes it may appeal, other times a little less.
“Afterwards, Messi told me he was fine with the decision.”