Lionel Messi will be in the Paris Saint-Germain squad to face Manchester City on Tuesday after a knee problem, as Pep Guardiola admits he “doesn’t know how to stop” his Champions League rivals.
Messi has missed the last two PSG games, but returned to training on Monday.
PSG head coach Mauricio Pochettino declined to confirm whether the six-time Ballon d’Or winner will start against City in what is a replay of last season’s Champions League semi-final.
“It’s very good,” Pochettino said. “I think that tomorrow he will be in the team, but I have not yet decided on the starting eleven.”
Guardiola and Messi together won 14 trophies in Barcelona over a four-year period, including two Champions League titles.
When Barcelona were unable to renew Messi’s contract due to financial fair play rules, he was linked to a reunion with Guardiola at City, but instead joined PSG on a free transfer.
“It was a surprise to everyone (that Messi left Barcelona) but that’s what happened,” Guardiola said. “Everyone now accepts it.
“You couldn’t imagine it a long time ago, but it happened. In life itself you never know what happens. I’m pretty sure it will be happy in Paris.
“His career is exceptional. Hopefully tomorrow he can play for the benefit of the game.”
Poch: Messi is the best in the world, but he’s human
Since Guardiola left Barcelona, no player has scored more goals for his teams in the Champions League than Messi.
The 34-year-old Messi has yet to score for PSG, although he has had physical problems and injuries since his arrival.
He has appeared in just three games, completing the full 90 minutes only once, and did not shake Pochettino’s hand when he was substituted in the 75th minute in his last game against Lyon.
Pochettino said: “We are talking about the best player in the world but, in saying that, we still have to understand that he is a man, like us, who needs to adapt to the new club and the family needs to adapt to the new one.” society and new culture.
“Let people work, let the player adjust and start to feel at home.”
Pep: I don’t know how to stop them, they are so good
Messi started attacking alongside Kylian Mbappé and Neymar in their first Champions League group stage match, but the trio failed to impress when PSG drew 1-1 at Club Brugge.
However, Guardiola remains unconvinced that his City team can undo their threat.
“With this amount of quality I don’t know how to stop them, they are so good,” Guardiola said. “This amount of talent makes it so difficult.
“They were a fantastic team last season. It was a close game. And now they have Messi.”
Pochettino says Messi, Neymar and Mbappé “need time to work together.”
“They need time to work in different environments and connect in a different way than they did in the past,” he said.
“PSG is always under pressure and the big stars feel pressure for different things, but the most important thing is that we are very happy with the squad we have built. Now we need time.”
City produced a memorable two-game performance to beat PSG in last year’s semi-finals.
Since then, the French club has bolstered its already star-studded ranks with the additions of six-time world player of the year Messi, Gianluigi Donnarumma and Achraf Hakimi.
Pochettino said: “City have been under the best manager in the world, in my opinion, Pep Guardiola.
“They want to win the Champions League and are further ahead than PSG in that process, but we know that anything can happen in a football match.”