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Lionel Messi: PSG ‘cannot be a counterattack team’ with him in the lineup, scolds Anelka

PSG ‘CANNOT be a counterattack team’ with Lionel Messi in the lineup, believes Nicolas Anelka … as he says that Mauricio Pochettino cannot ‘base his entire team’ around Kylian Mbappé

  • Lionel Messi means PSG cannot be a counterattack side, says Nicolas Anelka
  • The Argentinian generally conserves his energy and is often reluctant to track
  • Former Arsenal and Chelsea striker Anelka says he totally alters PSG’s approach


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Including Lionel Messi in the lineup means that Paris Saint-Germain cannot be an elite counterattack team, according to Nicholas Anelka.

The former Arsenal and Chelsea striker has not been impressed with Messi since he switched from Barcelona to Paris in the summer and his anger flared again on French television following a 2-1 loss to Man City in the Champions League.

PSG started with their famous three forwards of Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappé at the Etihad Stadium and Anelka feels that boss Mauricio Pochettino has his hands tied trying to mold a team into his counter attack image.

PSG cannot be a counterattack if he continues to play with Lionel Messi, says Nicolas Anelka

PSG cannot be a counterattack if he continues to play with Lionel Messi, says Nicolas Anelka

Former PSG striker Anelka believes his former team is limited in their focus with Messi playing

Former PSG striker Anelka believes his former team is limited in their focus with Messi playing

Former PSG striker Anelka believes his former team is limited in their focus with Messi playing

‘With Messi, PSG cannot be a team against,’ said Anelka RMC.

“You can’t base the whole team on Kylian Mbappé.”

Messi inadvertently set up Mbappé for PSG’s goal when his center was deflected in the young Frenchman’s path, but the unwillingness of two-thirds of the three forwards to defend is problematic.

On CBS Sports, Thierry Henry echoed sentiments similar to Anelka’s that Pochettino’s current setup, while dictated by the talent at his disposal, will not bring success in Europe.

Messi is seen conserving his energy and has shown little willingness to do his defensive work

Messi is seen conserving his energy and has shown little willingness to do his defensive work

Messi is seen conserving his energy and has shown little willingness to do his defensive work

Henry said: ‘If you want to win the Champions League, you can’t defend with seven players.

It’s impossible, I don’t care who you are. The wings are exposed, so it is practically a three against one, three against two on the field.

L'Equipe's full ratings for the game saw them dish out six 4/10 ratings, including for Messi and coach Mauricio Pochettino.

L'Equipe's full ratings for the game saw them dish out six 4/10 ratings, including for Messi and coach Mauricio Pochettino.

L’Equipe’s full ratings for the game saw them dish out six 4/10 ratings, including for Messi and coach Mauricio Pochettino.

‘The team that wins titles, and the Champions League even more, has its three forwards facing the ball.

‘That way, the runners will feel more comfortable with what’s going on behind them. But right now they are too exposed. Teams from France can’t expose them, but Manchester City can.

Anelka has previously shown that she doesn’t beat around the bush when it comes to Messi, having said last month that she believes the Argentine has not looked “that extraordinary.”

He said: ‘Today we demand Neymar, but we can do the same with Messi.

“Since the beginning of the season it is not extraordinary either. There is a player who has six Ballons d’Or and in the end he is not so extraordinary ”.

Messi drew the ire of famous French newspaper L’Equipe on Thursday after his off-color display against Man City on Wednesday night, calling the Argentine a “hit and miss” in the 2-1 loss.

Despite all of PSG’s attacking talents, they offered little to threaten Pep Guardiola’s men after moving on, recording just two shots on goal, with Messi singled out for a near-anonymous performance as L’Equipe gave him a four out of ten.

Anelka feels counterattack football suits Kylian Mbappé (left) but with Neymar and Messi on the wing, Pochettino (right) has no capacity to take the approach with PSG

Anelka feels counterattack football suits Kylian Mbappé (left) but with Neymar and Messi on the wing, Pochettino (right) has no capacity to take the approach with PSG

Anelka feels counterattack football suits Kylian Mbappé (left) but with Neymar and Messi on the wing, Pochettino (right) has no capacity to take the approach with PSG

The French media are notoriously tough on their ratings and the star did not impress them, stating that he was “overwhelmed by the defenders” at the Etihad.

‘Yes, he delivers the almost decisive pass to Mbappé [for the goal], yes, he initiates some situations because of his work as a pivot between the lines, but we have the right to expect more [from] a six-time Ballon d’Or [winner]’the newspaper said. ‘At [build up] of the game, must [do] plus.

‘Some of his [final third] the options were hit or miss. More worrying sometimes [looked] overwhelmed against defenders. ‘

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