Mauricio Pochettino admits Lionel Messi remark caused Kylian Mbappe and Neymar “problem”

Neymar, Mbappe and Messi have yet to hit top form this season with PSG
(Image: NurPhoto/PA Images)

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Pochettino named his top three candidates for the award with Messi triumphing ahead of Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski and Cristiano Ronaldo, of Manchester United.

The Argentine coach said: "The Ballon d’Or should go to Messi without any doubt.

"And if I didn’t coach Messi, I would still say Messi. I answer with my heart. I always say what I feel. On the podium with him would have to be Lewandowski and Cristiano."

PSG's three forwards failed to click again during Sunday’s scoreless draw against Marseille in Ligue 1 – with Messi’s wait for a goal in the French top flight prolonged.

It was after this game that Pochettino revealed that his comment on Messi had caused a ‘problem’ in the dressing room in Paris.

Pochettino said, as per Diario Sport : "I had a problem saying that Messi should win the Ballon d'Or.

"Neymar and Mbappé told me why not them.

"In any case, it would be great for any player from Paris to win it, but Leo deserves it."

The record six-time Ballon d’Or winner is many people’s favourites to add another title to his collection.

After all, Messi scored 38 goals in 47 games last season in what proved to be his final season at Barcelona before winning the Copa America (where he was top scorer and top assister) with Argentina – his first international title.

Messi said in a wide-ranging recent interview with France Football when asked on who he would vote for: "In my team there are at least two players for whom I'll vote in Kylian and Neymar.

"Then [Robert] Lewandowski, who has had a great year. But there's also Benzema."

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Despite concerns over Messi’s role in Pochettino’s side, PSG are seven points clear at the top of the top-flight in France with nine wins from their 11 league matches to date.

They are also in a strong position to progress from their Champions League group having collected seven points from their opening three matches.

Messi has found the net three times in Europe’s premier club competition; a fine solo effort against Manchester City followed by a brace against RB Leipzig last time out.