Paris Saint-Germain will be without Lionel Messi and Neymar away at Olympique Lyonnais in Ligue 1 on Sunday although the Argentine is back in France and training after recently testing positive for COVID-19.
Messi, 34, should be in contention from next week when Neymar will also be back in Paris after an extended period back in his homeland but the Brazil international remains about three weeks away from a return to training.
“The latest medical update has been issued and that is all we can say,” said PSG head coach Mauricio Pochettino about Messi’s status. “There was a date set for Neymar’s return before he left and he remains on course to recover.”
Pochettino is likely to be shorthanded in Lyon with Angel Di Maria, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Danilo Pereira, Julian Draxler and Lyavin Kurzawa all isolating after positive COVID tests and Achraf Hakimi, Idrissa Gueye and Abdou Diallo all on Africa Cup of Nations duty.
“All teams have missing players right now due to COVID, injuries and suspensions,” said Pochettino. It is the same for us and you just have to adapt.”
Asked about Mauro Icardi’s fitness after some recent photos circulated on social media suggesting some weight gain over the holidays, Pochettino rejected the idea that his compatriot is out of shape. “Which photo?” asked the South American. “Mauro is fine, training well and with discipline. He and Kylian (Mbappe) have not played together that much of late, but they can work well together. We will see how they get on.
Finally, Pochettino passed the buck when asked whether PSG’s proposed Winter Tour to Qatar later this month is reasonable considering the latest wave of the COVID pandemic impacting travel worldwide.
“I am not the right person to answer,” replied Pochettino of the tour which would see the squad visit Doha and play an exhibition match in Saudi Arabia over a few days in mid-January. “Those who decide will analyze and make the best choice.”