Mauricio Pochettino explains why he hooked Lionel Messi at half-time
He was replaced by Mauro Icardi at half time
Mauricio Pochettino has explained his decision to substitute Lionel Messi after just 45 minutes in Paris Saint-Germain's 2-1 win over reigning champions Lille on Friday night.
Messi started the game in the middle of PSG's front line, with Kylian Mbappé absent through illness, but appeared to be struggling with a muscle problem and failed once again to break his duck in Ligue 1.
Trailing 1-0 to a Jonathan David goal in the 31st minute, Pochettino took the brave decision to replace Messi at half time with their compatriot Mauro Icardi replacing him, providing more of a physical presence in attack.
PSG improved in the second half, with captain Marquinhos levelling the score with 15 minutes remaining before Angel Di Maria's 88th minute goal stole all three points for the league leaders.
Speaking after the game, Pochettino admitted he was unsure about Messi's condition, but explained he was taken off as a precaution.
"We have to wait," Pochettino said.
"We were with the doctors at half-time, it’s a precaution, he couldn’t continue. We hope that’s not a big deal."
PSG may therefore have to play without the six time Ballon d'Or winner on Tuesday when they take on RB Leipzig away from home in the Champions League.
The last time the two sides met, just a couple of weeks ago, a Messi brace was required to secure the victory and keep PSG top of their group.