Pochettino: Messi is at the same level as Diego Maradona
The PSG manager gave an interview in which he said criticism of Messi was unfair and that the former Barça player should be compared to Diego Maradona.
PSG manager Mauricio Pochettino has addressed criticism of Leo Messi’s first season at the Parc des Princes and backed the Argentina captain, stating that speaking of Messi is the same thing as speaking of Diego Maradona. In an interview with Europe 1, Pochettino declared his optimism that next season will be very different for the former Barcelona player, who failed to hit the same heights in his first campaign in Paris as had become customary during his lengthy Camp Nou career. The Argentinean coach also added that the boos aimed at his players by PSG fans in recent weeks after the side’s Champions League elimination against Real Madrid had affected the entire squad.
“Judging Messi in this way is unfair,” Pochettino said. “I have absolutely no doubts about his quality. Messi has enough talent to do what he needs to do. And he will. Next season will be completely different for him. This season has been one of adjustment, not just at the professional level after joining PSG, in a new league and with new teammates, but in terms of his family as well. You have to bear that in mind. It’s a big change that can affect any player.
Pochettino: “You can’t talk about Messi in this way. It is like talking about Maradona”
“You can’t talk about Messi in this way. It is like talking about Maradona. I’m not talking about an ordinary player. Messi is at the same level as Diego Maradona. It is obvious that moving from Barcelona to PSG was a change that requires a certain period of adaptation. There are circumstances that have not allowed him to feel as comfortable at PSG as he did at Barça, where he spent 20 years and where he was the flag-bearer for the club.”
Assessing PSG’s season, which reaped the Ligue 1 title but none of the Champions League, Coupe de France or Trophée des Champions, Pochettino said: “I think that merit has to placed on the Ligue 1 title because the history of the club has to be cemented with titles. I arrived last year and the team was third in the table, going through a lot of problems, with 12 players out injured and covid… we didn’t’ win the league and that was very frustrating. That is why value has to be placed on the Ligue 1 title, although it is true that there was a lot of disappointment because we didn’t win the Champions League.”
On the hostility of PSG fans towards the players after the Real Madrid defeat, Pochettino added: “Obviously it’s not a nice thing to go through. We have played games at the Parc des Princes and you feel sad because the fans are not backing the team. It’s something that affects you. We have always talked about the atmosphere here and this situation saddens me, it affects me because I was a player here and now I’m the coach at this club. I hope it gets resolved.”