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‘Sooner the better’: PSG hope to wrap up title but Messi misses out

Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino reacts during the French L1 match against Olympique de Marseille (OM) at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, April 17, 2022. — AFP pic

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PARIS, April 19 — Mauricio Pochettino is hoping Paris Saint-Germain can clinch the Ligue 1 title tomorrow despite being without the injured Lionel Messi, as the Argentine coach batted away questions about his future in the French capital beyond this season.

PSG are 15 points clear of Marseille with six games left in the season after beating their rivals 2-1 on Sunday.

That means they could be crowned champions tomorrow, provided Marseille fail to beat Nantes and PSG better their nearest challenger’s result when they travel to Angers.

If Marseille do not slip up, PSG will have another chance to secure their eighth title in 10 seasons — and a record-equalling 10th French crown overall — when they play host to Lens on Saturday.

“The sooner the better,” Pochettino said when asked if he would prefer to win the league away from home or in front of the PSG fans at the Parc des Princes, where supporters angry with club management and at the manner of their Champions League exit have decided to stay silent during remaining games this season.

“For me it would be an immense source of joy to be involved in winning the club’s 10th league title.

“That should be a great source of motivation for everyone but we still need to go out and win it as soon as possible.”

Despite their strong position in the league, the end of the season is proving to be something of an anti-climax for PSG after they started the campaign by signing Messi and targeting Champions League glory.

Having also exited the French Cup early, the Champions League collapse against Real Madrid in the last 16 in March left the Qatar-owned club with the sole remaining aim of reclaiming the domestic title they lost to Lille last season.

Messi has contributed just three Ligue 1 goals and will play no part against Angers because of an inflamed Achilles tendon, PSG said.

Meanwhile Neymar, who has belatedly come to life this season and has scored six times in the last three matches, will also be absent due to suspension.

“For a long time I have said that winning the Champions League is a fundamental objective for Paris Saint-Germain so it will always be a big disappointment for the club if we don’t win it,” admitted Pochettino.

His own future remains up in the air, with speculation linking him to Manchester United dying down now that Erik ten Hag is the favourite for the Old Trafford job.

Pochettino added: “I have a year left on my contract and so it is not a matter of wanting to continue or not, it is a contractual matter.”

“Obviously there are always expectations. Any coaching staff wants to do better than last season and we still have that desire to improve.” — AFP

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