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Sergio Ramos targeting ‘four or five more years’ at the top

Sergio Ramos says he has “four or five more years” left at a high level despite struggling for game time since his move to Paris Saint-German. 

The 36-year-old has endured an injury-hit first campaign in the French capital, playing 392 minutes across his seven appearances in all competitions, just four of which were starts. 

However, the former Real Madrid defender impressed on his return to the line-up in PSG’s 6-1 thrashing of Clermont last time out, as Neymar and Kylian Mbappe each netted hat-tricks and Lionel Messi claimed three assists. 

Ramos completed 99 of his 105 attempted passes – both of which were game highs – during the Ligue 1 leaders’ dominant win. 

The defender now says he believes he can play at the highest level into his forties, insisting he feels back to his physical best. 

“I see myself playing four or five more years at a high level, and then [I’ll have] another experience,” Ramos told Amazon Prime Video in France. 

“Here in Paris, I have two more years [on my contract], I’ll try to make it three, [with] one more, we’ll see.  

“As long as my physique holds up, I think my head is very focused. Now, I’m very well, very happy and eager to play.” 

Ramos’ excellent distribution from the back contributed to PSG completing 93.6 per cent of their passes against Clermont, the highest percentage managed by any Ligue 1 team since Opta began recording such data in the 2006-07 season. 

Meanwhile, Ramos refused to say whether he preferred international football to the club game, having won an incredible 180 caps for Spain during a glittering career that has seen him win one World Cup and two European Championships. 

He never formally retired from international duty despite being left out of Luis Enrique’s squad for Euro 2020 and could yet look to fight his way back into the coach’s plans for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. 

“It’s a difficult question to answer,” Ramos added. “The feeling of your homeland and your country is always something very big. [The feeling] that your team is to whom you owe yourself, [that] you have to play well in your [club] team to be selected.  

“They are both a unique feeling, I can’t keep [only] one, although with the national team you can aspire to be a world champion.” 

PSG have a 12-point lead over second-placed Marseille in Ligue 1, and Mauricio Pochettino’s team can take a huge step towards securing the French title when they face their nearest rivals on Sunday. 

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Neymar labels Messi and Mbappe ‘geniuses’ after PSG trio star in win

Neymar hailed fellow hat-trick hero Kylian Mbappe and Paris Saint-Germain assists king Lionel Messi as “geniuses” after the 6-1 win over Clermont.

The Brazilian also echoed Mbappe’s verdict that it was a “shame” the superstar trio had not been able to link up more often this season.

Messi claimed three assists in the Ligue 1 leaders’ rampant away victory on Saturday night, becoming the first player to claim three assists on two separate occasions in the French top flight since Opta data for the competition began in 2006-07, having previously assisted three goals against Saint-Etienne in November.

The former Barcelona captain has averaged an impressive 0.73 assists per 90 minutes on the pitch during his first season in Ligue 1, a team-high.

Meanwhile, the trebles scored by Mbappe and Neymar meant they became the first Ligue 1 team-mates to net hat-tricks in the same game since Mbappe and Edinson Cavani did so against Guingamp in January 2019. Prior to that, the last team to achieve the feat were Bordeaux against Valenciennes in August 1979.

Speaking after reaching double figures for Ligue 1 goals this season, Neymar was delighted with PSG’s performance and said the relationship between the front three is improving with every match.

“I am very pleased to have scored my first hat-trick of the season,” Neymar said.

“And [I’m] even happier with the win and our attitude. It’s important that the chemistry between us get stronger in every match.”

The win represented just the 14th occasion across all competitions when all three attackers have started together this season, leading Mbappe to say it was a “shame” PSG fans had been forced to wait until now to see them perform regularly together.

Neymar delivered a similar sentiment, while labelling his attacking partners “extraordinary”.

“Unfortunately, everyone has gotten to pretty much 100 per cent only at the end of the season,” Neymar said, quoted on the official Ligue 1 website.

“It’s a shame, but I am very happy with everything that we are showing on the pitch. It’s a lot easier to play with players who are very intelligent.

“Leo and Kylian are extraordinary, they are two geniuses.”

PSG’s last 11 Ligue 1 goals have been scored by Mbappe (five), Neymar (five) or Messi (one), and Mauricio Pochettino’s men are closing in on the French title.

Neymar, meanwhile, has now scored against 24 of the 25 opponents he has faced in Ligue 1, the exception being Brest, and the treble was his first since January 2018, when he scored four goals against Dijon.

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Real Madrid fans started the evening by applauding Kylian Mbappé and ended it by cheering Karim Benzema and celebrating another epic Champions League night the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium.

Benzema responded to another goal by Mbappé by scoring a hat trick in less than 20 minutes in the second half Wednesday as Madrid came from behind to defeat Paris Saint-Germain 3-1 and advance to the quarterfinals of the Champions League.

It was yet another frustrating result in Europe for PSG, which won the first leg 1-0 and doubled its advantage through Mbappé in the first half but again failed to live up to the massive expectations after adding Lionel Messi to its star-studded team this season.

“It turned out to be a spectacular night for us,” Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said. “It was a difficult match and it got even more complicated after their first goal. We suffered a lot. But after we scored the atmosphere in the stadium changed and the fans began to push us again and the players began to believe that they could finish the comeback.”

Mbappé opened the scoring in the 39th minute to increase PSG’s aggregate lead after the France striker also netted in stoppage time to secure the first-leg win in Paris.

Mbappé has been widely linked with a move to Madrid after his contract expires at the end of the season and was cheered by part of the Madrid fans when his name was announced in the PSG lineup before the match. His family was also at the Bernabéu.

But when it was all over the ovation was for Madrid and Benzema, who at 34 years, 80 days became the oldest player to score a Champions League hat trick. He surpassed Olivier Giroud, who was 34 years, 63 days when he hit a treble for Chelsea at Sevilla in 2020.

Benzema also reached 309 goals with Madrid to surpass Alfredo Di Stéfano for third place on the club’s all-time scoring list, and 67 in the Champions League to surpass Raúl González’s 66 with the club and become second-best to Cristiano Ronaldo.

“We needed the fans and they were behind us until the end,” Benzema said. “This victory is for them.”

More than 60,000 were on hand for the biggest crowd at the Bernabéu since the coronavirus pandemic started. The stadium, which remains under renovation, remained packed several minutes after the final whistle as players stayed on the field celebrating with the fans.

Benzema’s third Champions League hat trick started in the 61st after a blunder by PSG goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma. He then scored again in the 76th and 78th minutes to give the 13-time European champions a 3-2 aggregate win. Madrid reached the last eight for the second straight season after consecutive eliminations in the round of 16.

PSG, seeking its first Champions League title, had advanced past the round of 16 the last two seasons, losing the final to Bayern Munich in 2020 and being eliminated by Manchester City in the semifinals in 2021.

In the other last-16 match on Wednesday, Manchester City advanced past Sporting Lisbon 5-0 on aggregate after a scoreless draw in England.

PSG appeared in control after Mbappé, who had been doubtful to play after picking up a knock in training on Monday, scored in the 39th after collecting a long pass by Neymar and making a run into the area before firing a low shot past goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

It was the 27th Champions League goal for the 23-year-old France forward with PSG, leaving him three shy of Edinson Cavani’s club record in the competition. He has scored 14 goals in his last 14 Champions League appearances.

Mbappé had already had a few chances before opening the scoring, including a goal disallowed for offside in the build-up. He also had one goal called back for the same reason in the second half.

Neymar and Lionel Messi also threatened for PSG after Madrid looked in control early.

Vinícius Júnior and Benzema threatened the most for Madrid, and the French striker scored the equalizer off a pass from Vinícius after Donnarumma gave the ball away while being pressured by Benzema inside the area.

“The goalkeeper waited and waited, he lost the ball and it was a goal,” Benzema said. “He should have cleared it, simple as that.”

PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino complained that Benzema had fouled Donnarumma.

“It was a clear foul and it wasn’t called,” Pochettino said. “We became nervous after that goal and things got complicated. We didn’t manage it well after that.”

Benzema added the second after a pass from Luka Modric and a couple of minutes later sealed the team’s spot in the quarterfinals with a one-time finish after another run by Vinícius down the left flank.

Madrid was without Ferland Mendy and Casemiro because of yellow-card suspensions, but Toni Kroos started after being doubtful because of muscle injury. Federico Valverde replaced Casemiro, while Nacho Fernández started at left back instead of veteran Marcelo.

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Kylian Mbappe struck in the fourth minute of injury time to give Paris Saint-Germain a precious 1-0 win over Real Madrid in the first leg of their heavyweight Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday. It looked as though Real would escape with a draw after weathering a first-half onslaught from PSG before Lionel Messi had a penalty saved by Thibaut Courtois just after the hour mark at the Parc des Princes.

Then, in the last minute of stoppage time, Mbappe burst into the box from the left and between two defenders before finishing past Courtois for his 22nd goal this season.

“I got myself into some space and then it was one against two in the box, and in the box the attacker is always in control,” Mbappe told broadcaster Canal Plus.

“The defenders were going back and I could decide where I wanted to go, and then I managed to put it between the legs of Courtois.”

Tipped to move to Madrid when his contract in Paris expires at the end of the season, Mbappe’s last-gasp strike means his current club have the edge heading into the return at the Santiago Bernabeu on March 9.

He added: “We are very pleased to have this slight advantage but there is a return leg to come and we need to make sure we prepare well in our upcoming league matches.”

The France World Cup-winning striker may have focused much of the attention coming into this tie amid the speculation about his future but the array of attacking talent elsewhere could not be overlooked.

Messi was coming up against Madrid for the first time since leaving Barcelona, for whom he scored a record 26 goals in the ‘Clasico’ over his years at the Camp Nou.

Real also knew all about the threat of Angel Di Maria, who won the Champions League with the Spanish giants in 2014.

He started because Neymar was only deemed fit enough for a place on the bench having not played since late November due to an ankle injury.

The fragile Brazilian may have wondered how he might fit back into Mauricio Pochettino’s team as he watched the way they played without him in the first half.

PSG showed a hunger that has been lacking for most of the campaign in Ligue 1 even as they built a huge lead at the top of the table.

PSG’s pressing game suffocated their opponents, although Real were seemingly quite happy to defend deep and give up possession, aware that a 0-0 draw would do just fine with the away goals rule scrapped from this season.

That meant Karim Benzema, Real’s top scorer making his return after a three-game spell out injured, saw practically none of the ball along with the two players flanking him, Vinicius Junior and Marco Asensio.

For most of the first half, PSG played perhaps their best football since the arrival of Messi last August. Yet Courtois only really had to make one save of note in that time, to deny Mbappe in the 18th minute.

The visitors would have tried to regroup at half-time, but less than five minutes after the restart Mbappe forced Courtois into an excellent save low to his right.

Courtois then topped that by diving to his left to keep out Messi’s 62nd-minute penalty, awarded after Mbappe was chopped down by Dani Carvajal, who he had tormented all evening.

The French club failed to score when on top in the first half and had now squandered a glorious chance to go in front. The miss summed up Messi’s underwhelming PSG career so far.

Pochettino sent on Neymar, the world’s most expensive player unmistakeable with his peroxide blonde hair.

However, Mbappe had scored a last-minute winner for his team against Rennes in the league last weekend and he again had the last word, leaving the side he might be representing next season up against it in the return in three weeks.

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“We are confident because we will be playing at home so we will have the stadium behind us,” Ancelotti told Canal Plus.

“Paris have a stronger chance but our hopes of going through are not lost.”



Paris Saint-Germain were eliminated from the French Cup on Monday as Marcin Bulka, a goalkeeper they loaned to Nice, saved twice in a penalty shootout to put his new team into the last eight.

Nice, second to PSG in Ligue 1, won 6-5 on penalties after a scrappy 0-0 draw. That set up a grudge quarter-final against Marseille, third in the league.

“It’s madness,” Bulka said.

The last-eight draw, made before Monday’s kickoff, also paired the two surviving fourth-tier clubs, Bergerac and Versailles.

In both the other ties, a Ligue 1 team will host a Ligue 2 side as Monaco face Amiens and Nantes entertain Bastia.

At the Parc des Princes, both teams struggled to create clear chances, although Kylian Mbappe, who came on for the last 30 minutes, hit the bar in added time.

“We were better than Nice,” said PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino. “We deserved better, we deserved to win. But we did not create enough to win. We should have been more efficient.”

“The penalty shootout is a lottery,” he added.

In the shootout, Bulka, who PSG loaned to Nice for the season after Gianluigi Donnarumma arrived last summer, had the final word.

The Pole saved the third PSG penalty from Leandro Paredes, but Donnarumma responded by parrying from Andy Delort.

Bulka, making a rare start for Nice, then ended the contest by diving to his left to save from 18-year-old Xavi Simons.

“I have all the respect for PSG because I am on loan from this club that I love,” he said, adding that his familiarity with some players was not an advantage.

“I know the players but it’s more the feeling, I chose the correct sides and stopped them,” he said.

It was Bulka’s first appearance at the Parc des Princes, where he had never played for PSG.

“My family was here, I’m very happy because it was the first time they saw a game,” he said.

Nice will next host nearby Marseille in a rematch of a Ligue 1 game on August 22 that was abandoned after home fans invaded the pitch and then a brawl broke out between the sides.

Nice had a point deducted as punishment.

The quarter-finals are scheduled for midweek on 8-9 February.

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Messi: PSG want Champions League title after drawing Madrid

Lionel Messi insisted Paris Saint-Germain’s objective is to win the Champions League after being paired with Real Madrid in the round of 16.

LaLiga leaders Madrid stand in the way of PSG and the quarter-finals following a chaotic redraw due to a technical glitch on Monday.

PSG – initially drawn against Manchester United – were Champions League runners-up in 2019-20, however, the French giants have never conquered Europe.

As former Barcelona superstar Messi prepares to reunite with Madrid – the first leg will be held on February 15 – the Ballon d’Or winner reinforced PSG’s ultimate pursuit.

“The objective for PSG is to win the Champions League, that’s everyone’s aim,” Messi said at the Dubai Expo 2020 via Marca.

“The team has been very close before. It’s an essential competition for all teams. We’ll try to win it.”

Messi swapped Barca for PSG in a blockbuster switch ahead of the 2021-22 season.

The 34-year-old was set to sign a new deal with Barca, but left Camp Nou after the Catalan giants announced that “financial and structural obstacles” had left them unable to retain his services.

Messi has scored one goal in 10 Ligue 1 appearances this season, while he has managed five goals in as many Champions League games.

“It was a very big change after so much time in the same place, so it wasn’t easy,” Messi said.

“But, we’re all doing well in what is a spectacular city and at one of the best teams in the world.”

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Real Madrid and PSG still interested in Man Utd’s Pogba

Paul Pogba’s club future continues to be a major topic of speculation.

The 28-year-old is into the final year of his Manchester United contract.

Pogba has flirted with the idea of an extension but has been stalling on a decision.


Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain are both ready to ramp up the race to sign Paul Pogba from Manchester United, claims Marca.

Pogba is running down his United contract, meaning he will be a free agent in mid-2022.

Real and PSG will rekindle their interest after new United interim manager Ralf Rangnick said Pogba should not need to be convinced to stay.


– Manchester United forward Edinson Cavani has offered his services to Juventus, according to Calciomercato. The Uruguayan veteran has also been linked with Barcelona.

Barcelona are plotting moves for Chelsea’s trio Cesar Azpilicueta, Christian Pulisic and Antonio Rudiger, reports Mundo Deportivo.

Milan are circling to sign Liverpool’s super-sub Divock Origi as they seek a long-term replacement for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, claims Tuttomercato. Atalanta are also interested.

– Calciomercato reports that Roma are considering a move for Spezia midfielder Jiulio Maggiore. The 23-year-old is out of contract in 2023 and valued at €8m (£6.8m).

Roma are also interested in a move for Norwich City’s Max Aarons, according to Corriere dello Sport. Tottenham and Everton are also in the race.

Lyon are interested in a move for Villarreal’s Arnaut Danjuma, claims Todofichajes. Manchester United and Barcelona are also tracking the ex-Bournemouth winger.

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Mbappe hits milestone as leaders soar

Kylian Mbappe joined a ton-up club with a first-half double against his former team as Paris Saint-Germain extended their lead at the top of Ligue 1 with a 2-0 victory over Monaco.

PSG were held to consecutive draws by Nice and Lens in their previous two league games, and they almost fell behind at the Parc des Princes on Sunday when Sofiane Diop struck the woodwork in the opening stages.

However, the hosts were soon in control when Mbappe rolled in a penalty before adding a second in the first half – the 22-year-old forward reaching 100 goals for PSG in the French top flight. He is the youngest player to hit that landmark for any French top-flight team since at least 1950-51, Opta said.

Rennes slipped up with a 2-1 loss to Nice earlier, meaning Mauricio Pochettino’s PSG side moved 13 points clear of second spot, which is now occupied by Marseille after their 2-0 win at Strasbourg.

Diop was denied by the left post after just two minutes, before a VAR review resulted in a 12th-minute penalty at the other end for an apparent trip by Djibril Sidibe on Angel Di Maria.

Mbappe duly converted into the bottom-left corner from the spot, before a wayward Youssouf Fofana pass allowed PSG’s France striker to double his account in the 45th minute.

Lionel Messi intercepted before driving forward and unleashing Mbappe, who curled with pinpoint accuracy into the bottom-right corner to reach his century of goals with PSG.

Messi whipped narrowly over the bar with a free-kick after the interval and then dragged just wide minutes later, while Monaco rarely looked like troubling Gianluigi Donnarumma in an otherwise uneventful second half as PSG cantered to victory.

Pochettino’s side, despite previously disappointing with draws in successive league games, are unbeaten in their last nine French top-flight outings.

PSG had won just four of their 19 home games against Monaco in Ligue 1 this century, but this time they managed to overcome Niko Kovac’s in-form side. Monaco had been in great shape, with a 3-1 win over Angers and a 4-0 drubbing of Metz ahead of this game.

Mbappe will take all the plaudits for yet another brilliant attacking display, but attacking partner Messi’s role should not go under the radar.

The former Barcelona man has now been involved in goals in consecutive games for the first time in his PSG career, having scored twice against Club Brugge in the Champions League, and he provided a joint team-high two chances – including an assist – in a delightful display.

Sidibe opened the door for the hosts when he carelessly stood on Di Maria’s foot to offer PSG the early penalty.

Alongside earning a caution, Sidibe has now conceded nine spot-kicks since his top-flight debut in 2012-13, and no current player has given away more in that period.

PSG visit fifth-tier outfit SC Feignies in the Coupe de France next Sunday, while Monaco travel to Red Star on the same day. Mauricio Pochettino’s side return to league action away at Lorient on 22 December, when Kovac’s team host Rennes.

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Lionel Messi inspired Paris Saint-Germain to a 3-1 comeback victory at Saint-Etienne with a hat-trick of assists as Sergio Ramos made his long-awaited debut for the club.

Ramos was making his first appearance for PSG since joining them on a free transfer from Real Madrid this summer.

However, it was Messi who stole the show with three assists as PSG extended their lead at the top of the table to 12 points.

There was a big concern for PSG late on as Neymar had to be stretchered off the pitch with an ankle injury.

Saint-Etienne went ahead after 23 minutes with a Denis Bouanga strike but were controversially reduced to 10 men after Timothee Kolodziejczak brought down Kylian Mbappe when he was through on goal.

Messi took the resulting free kick and set up Marquinhos to equalise with a well-placed header just before the break.

The visitors went ahead with 11 minutes remaining when Messi put Angel Di Maria through on goal and he produced a clinical finish.

Messi grabbed his third assist of the afternoon in stoppage time to set up Marquinhos for another header to seal the three points for Mauricio Pochettino’s side.

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Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus struck as Manchester City came from behind to sink Paris St Germain 2-1 and reach the Champions League last 16.

The Premier League champions produced a superb response after falling behind to a goal from Kylian Mbappe against the run of play early in the second half at the Etihad Stadium.

Sterling levelled just after the hour and substitute Jesus popped up to claim a winner 14 minutes from time that also confirmed City as winners of Group A.

It was a disappointing night in Manchester for PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino in a week that has seen him heavily linked with the managerial vacancy across the city at United.

Yet City’s victory was thoroughly deserved as, despite lacking three of their most inventive players in Kevin De Bruyne, Jack Grealish and Phil Foden, they produced an energetic and dominant display.

PSG’s much-vaunted forward trio of Mbappe, Lionel Messi and Neymar were also denied the chance to wreak havoc by City’s disciplined defence.

There was still some consolation for PSG, however, with Leipzig’s victory over Club Brugge meaning the French side would still go through.

City had early opportunities when Rodri’s powerful header was cleared off the line by Presnel Kimpembe and Riyad Mahrez fired into the side-netting.

Mahrez went even closer with a curling effort that looked destined for the top corner but Achraf Hakimi did brilliantly to get back and divert the ball over the crossbar.

Ander Herrera almost turned the ball into his own net as he stretched to intercept a Bernardo Silva cross but Keylor Navas saved, as he did again shortly afterwards to keep out another Mahrez attempt.

As the first half drew to a close, City were completely dominant and at their fluid best but the ball would still not go in. Ilkay Gundogan hit a post, although a flag suggested it may not have counted.

PSG were restricted to occasional counter-attacks but Neymar and Nuno Mendes both failed to get any power behind shots.

Mbappe, who overcame a fitness test to start, had their clearest chance but leant back and blazed over after being played through by Neymar.

The World Cup-winning striker made amends for that miss five minutes into the second half as the visitors suddenly burst into life.

Messi and Neymar were both involved in a slick attack but a deflection off a City defender presented Mbappe with a chance he did not waste, firing through Ederson’s legs.

PSG immediately went looking for more but Ruben Dias blocked from Messi and another promising attack was also snuffed out.

City manager Pep Guardiola responded by sending on Jesus for Oleksandr Zinchenko and the hosts were soon back in the ascendancy with Navas sticking out a glove to deny Mahrez.

Pressure paid off just after the hour as Rodri’s deep cross into the box was cut back by Kyle Walker and Sterling poked home after a deflection off Jesus.

PSG almost hit back as Neymar played a clever one-two with Angel Di Maria but shot wide.

City made them pay for that miss by claiming the lead 14 minutes from time.
Mahrez picked out Silva with a deep ball into the box and the Portuguese neatly laid off for Jesus to turn home first time.

It was enough to ensure City, last season’s runners-up, will be in the knockout stages for a ninth successive year.