Lionel Messi will be absent when Paris Saint-Germain attempt to wrap up the Ligue 1 title during Wednesday’s trip to Angers, Mauricio Pochettino has confirmed.
Messi, who has recorded eight goals and 13 assists in 29 games since moving to the French capital last summer, is receiving treatment for inflammation in his left achilles tendon, and will sit out PSG’s potentially decisive match.
Pochettino’s men will seal the 10th Ligue 1 title in the club’s history by bettering Marseille’s result against Nantes, equalling St Etienne as the competition’s most successful club.
However, having already lost Neymar to suspension, Pochettino confirmed Messi is among several players who will miss the match, potentially handing an opportunity to some of PSG’s younger players.
“Some players like Leo Messi, Marco Verratti and Presnel Kimpembe will be missing tomorrow because they are still undergoing treatment,” Pochettino said. “Neymar will be suspended.
“It will be an opportunity for the players who don’t play much to get some game time and it will allow the youngsters to gain experience.
“Players such as Xavi Simons and Edouard Michut, they have been gaining experience. They are the ones who could really play a key role in the club’s future.”
PSG beat Marseille 2-1 last time out to inch closer to regaining the French crown, and are seeking to confirm top spot by recording a 12th consecutive league win over Angers.
Despite boasting a 15-point lead at the Ligue 1 summit with just six games remaining, Pochettino refuted suggestions that PSG’s dominance of the competition would mean they struggled to motivate themselves on Wednesday, saying their aim was to seal the title “as soon as possible”.
“This match will be important because it could allow us to win a 10th title if we win,” he added. “The goal is to continue the momentum from our last few games. We’ve had a string of successes and we want to continue that momentum.
“For the moment, the title is not secured yet, we are focused on the trip to Angers and on winning. The sooner the better. Personally, it would be an immense joy to win this 10th French championship title for Paris Saint-Germain.
“Motivation is always there because it is necessary to win. We have to respect football and our opponents until the last day because that is the best way to perform well. We hope to win the title as soon as possible!”
Despite the attacking trio of Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, and Messi scoring each of PSG’s last 13 league goals, the latter two have been jeered by their own supporters in recent weeks after the team fell to a humiliating Champions League last-16 collapse against Real Madrid.
While Pochettino respected the right of PSG’s fans to have an opinion on the state of the team, he emphasised his hope that supporters would come together to celebrate their title when it is confirmed.
“Everyone has the right to have their say,” Pochettino added. “[But] I hope that we can celebrate a 10th title in the club’s history together, it’s important. For the future, I hope there will be a good relationship, it is crucial for any club that aspires to win all the trophies.”