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Written by Martin Graham | May 3, 2022

Mauricio Pochettino has defended his compatriot Lionel Messi after the criticism the striker received in his first spell with Paris Saint-Germain.

Messi joined the French champions for free in the summer following budget cuts at Barcelona and has continued to produce average numbers at the club. In 23 league games due to injuries, bouts of COVID-19 and other illnesses, the mercurial Argentine scored just four goals while making 13.

The combined numbers (17 contributions in 23 matches) mask the fact that Messi has been significantly underperform at the Parc des Princes. Unlike Barcelona, ​​he had the talent of Neymar and Mbappe to count on for goals and as a result, Paris Saint-Germain broke the record for Ligue 1 titles with a draw against RC Lens two weeks ago. By the way, the only goal of Paris Saint-Germain in the match came from Messi.

The club’s fans did not take his offers kindly, booing him for most of the season. Many came to his defense, including Pochettino. The manager once again spoke in defense of the ex-Barcelona striker as the season drew to a close.

“Judging Messi in this way is unfair,” Pochettino said.

“You can’t talk about Messi like that. It’s like talking about Maradona. I’m not talking about an ordinary player. Messi is on the same level as Diego Maradona.

“I have no doubts about his quality. Messi has enough talent to do what he has to do. And he will do it. Next season will be completely different for him. It has been a year of learning, and not just on a professional level, as I came to Paris Saint-Germain, in A new league and with new teammates, but also on a family level.

“You have to take that into account. It is a major disruption that can affect the player.”

Rumors of Messi’s return to the Camp Nou have been circulating since the player began being booed by fans at the Parc des Princes, but the player’s camp came out to debunk the reports.

His contract expires in 2023 and Messi intends to stay at the club. It is also understood that he is open to the club’s choice to extend his stay for another year.

Meanwhile, Pochettino trained Messi for the last time in his career, as Paris Saint-Germain prepares to dismiss the Argentine coach from the club after disappointments in the Coupe de France and especially in the UEFA Champions League, which was the beginning of hostility among the fans. towards Messi.

Martin Graham is a sports writer for the MFF Forum

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