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Pochettino never expected to sign Messi but believes Argentine will produce his best at PSG

A stunning deal was pulled off by the Ligue 1 heavyweights over the summer when the all-time great became a free agent

Mauricio Pochettino admits he never expected to be a position where signing Lionel Messi was a realistic option, but the Paris Saint-Germain boss is expecting the Argentine to produce his best after settling quickly in French football.

A stunning coup for the Ligue 1 giants was secured over the summer when financial difficulties at Barcelona led to Messi becoming a free agent.

Pochettino was stunned a fellow countryman could join him at Parc des Princes and is looking to make the most of the opportunity.

What has been said?

The PSG manager told UEFA’s official website of Messi: “I may not be the most appropriate person to describe him. There are many more people who have a wider vocabulary to describe him closer to the reality Leo deserves. 

“He will always be considered among the best in the world. Since he arrived, he has really adapted very quickly and he’s been training very well, trying to achieve his highest level as soon as possible to compete at his best.

“I didn’t think it was possible [that he would sign for us], and when an opportunity appears and everything goes so fast, you can’t immediately process it. 

“However, there’s that connection: we both are Argentinian, we both support Newell’s [Old Boys], we both come from Rosario. I have also admired him for a long time when facing him as an opponent, so having him now training with us is really nice. We hope that, together, we will be able to achieve what the club desires.”

What about PSG’s other new signings?

Georginio Wijnaldum, PSG 2021-22

The last transfer window was a particularly productive one for PSG, with multiple deals done without having to splash out on big-money transfer fees.

Four proven international performers were snapped up as free agents, while Achraf Hakimi was lured away from Inter following their Serie A title triumph in 2020-21.

Pochettino said of capturing ex-Real Madrid captain and World Cup-winning centre-half Sergio Ramos: “Sergio is also a player that we think can, given the possibility, convey his experience, his competitiveness. 

“He’s a player that has also won everything, just like Leo. It’s good having him at the club for all that he can share with his team-mates: all that experience he gained at Real Madrid.”

He added on Dutch midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum: “He’s been captain of the Netherlands national team, he won everything at Liverpool, but he still has a lot of football left to play.

“He can play in several positions, but without losing his competitiveness, deeply understanding the game, deploying a great level in terms of technique and [strength].”

On Italy international goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, who headed to France after severing ties with AC Milan, Pochettino said: “We have already seen him crowned Euro 2020 Player of the Tournament and winning Euro 2020 with Italy. I think that his profile as a goalkeeper and his age make him one of the best goalkeepers in the world, right?”

On Hakimi, the PSG boss said: “Achraf is a young player [I have] been following since [I was] at Tottenham. 

“We were on the edge of signing him for Tottenham, but then he went to play for Dortmund. He has a great capacity to run, his physical potential is huge. He is young, he’s maturing at the defensive level, but he makes a lot of contributions in attack.”

PSG, with Messi and Neymar back at their disposal, are set to open their Champions League group stage campaign for 2021-22 on Wednesday away at Club Brugge.

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