Mauricio Pochettino has admitted that he did not expect Paris Saint-Germain to complete the signing of Lionel Messi this summer.
The 34-year-old was informed by Barcelona that they could not afford to keep him, even if he took a 50 percent pay cut, and that opened the door for him to make the move to the Parc des Princes.
“I may not be the most appropriate person to describe [Messi],” Pochettino told uefa.com.
“There are many more people who have a wider vocabulary to describe him closer to the reality Leo deserves.”
“He will always be considered among the best in the world. Since he arrived, he has really adapted very quickly and he’s been training very well, trying to achieve his highest level as soon as possible to compete at his best.”
“I didn’t think it was possible [that Messi would sign for PSG], and when an opportunity appears and everything goes so fast, you can’t immediately process it.”
“However, there’s that connection: we are both Argentines, we both support Newell’s [Old Boys], we both come from Rosario.”
“I have also admired him for a long time when facing him as an opponent, so having him now training with us is really nice. We hope that, together, we will be able to achieve what the club desires.”
Sergio Ramos is another free-agent signing that PSG made this summer, following the expiration of his contract at Real Madrid, although he is yet to make his debut for the French club due to a niggling calf injury.
“Sergio is also a player that we think can convey his experience, his competitiveness. He’s a player that has also won everything, just like Leo,” Pochettino noted.
“It’s good having him at the club for all that he can share with his teammates: all that experience he gained at Real Madrid.”
Achraf Hakimi arrived at the Parc des Princes from Inter for 60 million euros and he has slotted in perfectly into Pochettino’s side, and the Argentine coach admitted that he tried to sign the exciting right-back when he was in charge of Tottenham Hotspur.
“Achraf is a young player [I have] been following since [I was] at Tottenham. We were on the edge of signing him for Tottenham, but then he went to play for [Borussia] Dortmund,” Pochettino confirmed.
“He has a great capacity to run, his physical potential is huge. He is young, he’s maturing at the defensive level, but he makes a lot of contributions in attack.”
PSG are one of the favourites to go on and win the Champions League this season, having reached the final and semi-final in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 campaigns respectively, but Pochettino pointed to the luck that you need in order to lift the famous trophy.
“This is a really [unpredictable] competition, but one of the most attractive in the world to play. However, you need to be lucky [to win it],” Pochettino explained.
“Because all the teams participating in the Champions League are strong, and all over Europe – England, Spain, Italy, even Germany and also France – great investments have been made to be able to win it.
“There isn’t anything better than being part of it. When the staff think about this [competition], we always say that we have the responsibility, the pressure, but we are also the ones that have the chance to be part of history, to live this experience and we are going to enjoy it.”