Lionel Messi set for Paris Saint-Germain debut, Kylian Mbappe in squad to face Reims amid Real Madrid interest

Lionel Messi set for Paris Saint-Germain debut, Kylian Mbappe in squad to face Reims amid Real Madrid interest

Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe have been named in Paris Saint-Germain’s 22-man squad to face Reims on Sunday night.

It could be Messi’s first appearance as a PSG player since arriving at the Parc des Princes earlier this month, while Mbappe could feature despite feeling he is being kept at the club against his will, following Real Madrid’s two bids for the forward.

Messi concluded his 21-year association with Barcelona at the start of August and left as a free agent because the Catalonia club were unable to fulfil their offer of a new contract. The Argentina international then signed a two-year deal with PSG after an emotional farewell at the Nou Camp.

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Lionel Messi was unveiled to the PSG fans at the Parc des Princes after completing his move to the Ligue 1 club. (Credit: PSG TV)

The 34-year-old did not undergo a pre-season but has been training with Mauricio Pochettino’s squad to regain his fitness after enjoying an extended summer break following his country’s triumph in the Copa America.

He was presented to supporters, along with PSG’s other summer signings Achraf Hakimi, Sergio Ramos, Gianluigi Donnarumma and Georginio Wijnaldum, at their first home game of the season, a 4-2 win over Strasbourg.

Messi joined PSG on a contract until the summer of 2023 in one of the most sensational football transfers of all time
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Messi joined PSG earlier in August in one of the most sensational football transfers of all time

In his pre-match press conference, PSG boss Pochettino said he would not rush Messi into action as the 34-year-old built up his strength.

Pochettino said: “He [Messi] is very motivated. He’s a great professional who is adapting very fast to his new team-mates and to a new context.”

Mbappe, who scored in the Parisians’ victory over Brest last Friday, is subject to continued interest from Real Madrid as the summer transfer window draws to a close.

The La Liga club have submitted a second bid of €170m (£145.6m) plus €10m (£8.6m) in add-ons for the France international forward and given PSG a deadline of midnight on Sunday to respond.

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Kaveh Solhekol reports a deal which would see Kylian Mbappe move from PSG to Real Madrid is not close, and the Spanish club are beginning to feel it may be better to wait until January before re-approaching the France star.

Real Madrid could also wait until January when they have the opportunity to sign Mbappe on a pre-contract agreement which would see him join Los Blancos for free next summer when his PSG contract expires.

The World Cup winner, 22, has rejected PSG’s attempts to tie him down to a new deal and told the French side his dream is to play for Real Madrid.

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French football expert Jonathan Johnson says Real Madrid must return with a better offer if they are to sign Kylian Mbappe from Paris Saint-Germain.

PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi and sporting director Leonardo have stood firm following the two bids, the first of which (worth £137m) was rejected, with Leonardo saying that the forward will only be sold on the club’s terms.

Mbappe has helped the club to 11 major domestic honours and scored 133 goals in 174 matches for PSG since joining from Monaco in 2017.

Pochettino’s side are looking to reclaim the Ligue 1 title after Lille won the French top-flight last season, and have begun their 2021/22 campaign strongly with three wins from three.

They face Reims on Sunday (kick-off 7:45pm), who played out a stalemate with Nice in their opening game, drew 3-3 with Montpellier, and then 1-1 with Metz at the start of the season.

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