football

Thierry Henry plays down Lionel Messi’s reaction to being substituted by PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino


Lionel Messi was less than impressed to be hauled off by PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino (Picture: Getty)

Thierry Henry has played down the significance of Lionel Messi’s reaction to being substituted in Paris Saint-Germain’s 2-1 victory over Lyon and backed the iconic forward come good in France.

Messi, 34, who stunned the footballing world by swapping Barcelona for PSG in the summer transfer window, was taken off with 14 minutes remaining of Sunday’s Ligue 1 clash and was visibly upset with Mauricio Pochettino’s decision.

The Argentina superstar even appeared to refuse a handshake with his fellow countryman as he walked off the pitch to be replaced by Achraf Hakimi and cut a frustrated figure in the dugout as Mauro Icardi found a late winner for the hosts.

The result saw PSG tighten their grip at the top of the French top flight but Messi’s behaviour was understandably a hot topic of conversation after the match, with Pochettino coming out and defending his bold substitution.

‘Everyone knows we have great players in the squad, we have 35 players, but we must make decisions for the good of the team,’ the PSG head coach told reporters.

‘Sometimes they lead to a positive result and sometimes not.

‘These are decisions we need to take. Sometimes it pleases people, or it doesn’t. I asked him how he was, and he said he was fine.’

Messi is yet to register a goal or an assist in the French top flight (Picture: Getty)

Henry was not surprised by Messi’s behaviour and urged the Argentine’s critics to avoid ‘starting controversy’ so early into his PSG spell.

Asked whether he was shocked by Messi’s reaction, Henry told Amazon Prime: ‘No, not really. It does not surprise me.

‘Maybe he didn’t want to go out. We don’t know what they’re saying to each other.

‘Let’s not start the controversy. He surely wanted to stay on the pitch so he could score.’

Messi will adapt to life at PSG, according to Henry (Picture: Getty)

Henry has no doubts his former Barca team-mate will find his feet at PSG despite a slow start to the season, with the six-time Ballon d’Or winner yet to register a goal or assist in Ligue 1.

The ex-Arsenal and France striker added: ‘It will come, it will come quietly.

‘It takes time to adapt even for the best player in the world.’

Henry hopes Messi can drive PSG to Champions League success this term (Picture: Getty)

Henry is relishing the chance to watch Messi play alongside Kylian Mbappe and Neymar at PSG and hopes the club can bring an end to French football’s long wait for Champions League success.

‘Even if you know I will always be an Arsenal fan, let’s be a bit chauvinistic here – seeing Messi at the Parc is fantastic,’ he went on.

‘We all want to see the fantastic trio, with Mbappe and Neymar, play together and show us great things on the pitch.

‘We’re expecting a lot of PSG, we’d like for it to all come together, for it to work. Especially in the Champions League.

‘PSG have been getting closer to it for two years now.

‘They’re the likeliest French club to win it and succeed Marseille, nearly 30 years on. It would be great for Ligue 1 and French football in general.’


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