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Pochettino explains why he subbed off Messi

Pochettino explains reason behind subbing off Messi in PSG's comeback win vs Lyon

September 20, 2021 By Ali M.
The six-time Ballon d'Or winner made it into the headlines after being taken off in his home debut.

Lionel Messi made his home debut for new club PSG on Sunday but that game did not go down well for the Argentine. Despite all the fanfare, La Pulga is yet to impress for the French giants and in the showdown with Lyon, he was subbed off, sparking much controversy.

The French giants did not get off on the right foot, going 1-0 down short after the second half resumes. Fortunately, Neymar pulled one back from the spot kick just over the hour-mark, leaving Pochettino's men with 24 minutes to find the winner.

Despite chasing the three points, the head coach surprised everyone—including Leo himself—by taking off Messi in favour of Achraf Hakimi. The six-time Ballon d'Or winner was left upset by this move and appeared to have snubbed Pochettino's handshake as he made his way to the bench.

PSG did go on to find the winning goal, with countryman Mauro Icardi scoring in stoppage time to earn his side the three points, but this did not distract from all the headlines surrounding Messi's surprise substitution.

After the game, Pochettino was understandably grilled on his decision to take off the marquee summer signing. While Leo's poor display likely contributed, the former Tottenham boss stated that it was merely to protect thee 34-year-old for their upcoming fixtures.

"We made the decision to take Messi off because of a possible future injury," the South American tactician said, as per Marca.

"We have important matches coming up and we have to protect him.

"These are decisions made for the team and everyone knows we have many great players. We have to take these decisions.

"Sometimes they might be viewed favorably, sometimes a little less."

Was Pochettino being honest with his response or was the Argentine simply being diplomatic? That's remains unknown but what is clear is the need for Messi and Co.  to pick up their performance. The six-time Ballon d'Or winner started alongside Mbappe and Neymar for the second game in a row but struggled to establish great chemistry on the pitch. The wait for Leo's first goal continues!

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