Former Paris Saint-Germain manager Mauricio Pochettino is opening up about his experience in the French capital, giving an in-depth interview to Spanish media outlet Relevo about coaching Lionel Messi.
Pochettino had coached against Messi, but in 2021, the Argentine had the opportunity to have the former FC Barcelona star on his side of the pitch and compared it to when he had the late Diego Maradona as a teammate.
Additionally, the Argentine noted the veteran forward’s struggles in his first year in the French capital after arriving from Barcelona and unexpectedly leaving the Spanish club.
“It’s like when I had Maradona as a teammate,” Pochettino said. “I have the best next to me, let’s give the ball to him. In Paris, the first season especially, that was missing.
“Give it to Messi; there is no need to do certain things if you have a player as decisive as him. It was a satisfaction being his coach, despite the fact that he was his age, he came from the Copa América after a month and a half of a traumatic situation with his departure from Barça after 20 years.”
Under new manager Christophe Galtier, the Argentine has returned to the form many expect from him. But, whether it was Pochettino or perhaps needing time to adapt, regardless, PSG is seeing the best from Messi.
Comparing Messi to Maradona, the Spanish outlet asked the 50-year-old if Messi were to win the 2022 FIFA World Cup would push him to be the best Argentine footballer ever. However, rather than giving an opinion, Pochettino provided a political answer regarding this debate.
“For me, that debate never existed,” Pochettino added. “They are the best in their respective contexts. How do we measure it? According to results? If he won the World Cup? Ballon d’Or? Both are in the same place and it is in the first position.”