On Sunday, Lionel Messi could make his long-awaited debut for Paris Saint-Germain against Reims in Champagne country, but it is Kylian Mbappe who is the focus of all the attention right now since his destiny is still up in the air.
Messi has yet to play in either of PSG’s two Ligue 1 games since his arrival in Paris, as he continues to build up his fitness after returning to training late following Argentina’s Copa America triumph last month.
“It will be a long week, but if everything goes well we hope he can be in the squad and feature in the team,” Pochettino told ESPN after the Qatar-owned club beat Brest 4-2 last time out.
There is logic in giving Messi a run-out against Reims, so that he is not completely lacking in match sharpness before joining up with the Argentina squad for a series of World Cup qualifiers at the start of September.
The same can be said for Neymar, who has not played for his club this season after appearing in the Copa America final against Argentina and then taking a long rest over the summer.
With Brazil hosting Argentina in Sao Paulo on September 5, Neymar and Messi might face off again, however the international window is in jeopardy due to clubs throughout Europe refusing to allow players to go to represent their nations.
The match at the 21,000-capacity Stade Auguste-Delaune — with its statue of former Ballon d’Or winner Raymond Kopa, the ex-Reims and Real Madrid great, outside — is a sell-out, and the Champagne region is fizzing with excitement at the prospect of welcoming Messi.
In Paris, though, they are more concerned about Mbappe, after a week which saw Madrid put in an offer of 160 million euros ($188m) for the 22-year-old World Cup winner.
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