LIONEL MESSI, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar’s ‘massive egos’ were to blame for Paris Saint-Germain’s Champions League collapse – not Mauricio Pochettino.
That is the view of legendary Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand.
Lionel Messi and Neymar were unable to see PSG through to the quarter-finalsCredit: Getty
Mauricio Pochettino is set to lose his job following the defeatCredit: Getty
PSG capitulated in spectacular fashion on Wednesday night, conceding a 17-minute Karim Benzema hat-trick to flip the last-16 tie completely on its head and ultimately send the French giants crashing out.
A catalogue of errors and a total lack of composure contributed to the pitiful display.
And Ferdinand pinpointed his frustration at the team having to ‘carry’ their all-star front three.
He told BT Sport: “I think it’s up to the manager to create that culture (where they don’t panic).
“But also this team, there have been massive egos, which is part of managing big clubs, and there are players that are genuine superstars.
“You’ve got Mbappe, you’ve got Neymar, you’ve got Messi now in this team playing upfront.
“And each of those players are players that you would probably allow as a one-off in your team to be a passenger and you all work for that player.
“To have three of them makes it near on impossible to do it at the top level. You can do it and get away with it in the French league like they do every year, they win the league.
“But at this level, to carry three players that aren’t gonna be able to work to the intensity that you probably need to win a tournament like the Champions League is very, very, very difficult.”
As well as offering little defensively, Messi has not been adding much in attack either with just seven goals in all competitions this season – and one in 2022.
His inability to score against Real Madrid yet again contributed to the European exit as PSG’s desperate hunt to lift the Champions League goes on.
And that is expected to be enough for PSG to sack Pochettino – most probably at the end of the season.
However, Ferdinand jumped to the defence of the Old Trafford target.
Asked if the criticism of Poch was fair, he continued: “I don’t think so given the history at PSG.
“Many managers have been there now and won the league and failed in the Champions League.
“We saw today how the team folded, and this isn’t just a one-season episode, this is something that continually happens every single year.
“You go, ‘Do you know what, PSG with the talent they’ve got, especially in attacking areas, with the experience that they’ve got, an array of international big players they’ve got, they’re gonna have a chance of winning it.’
“And they fall at the quarter-final, semi-final hurdles, they’ve lost in the final. This is something that just happens.
“[It is a] dysfunctional team, I think that sums it up quite well about the way that they play.
“So I don’t think you can really point the finger too much at Pochettino when this has happened season after season.”
Michael Owen, meanwhile, highlighted PSG being ‘soft’ at the core despite their superstar signings.
The former Los Blancos striker added: “If you’ve got the same things happening every year, and it’s a different manager every year, then I find it hard to say that manager’s [not good enough].
“That team is like that. I’ve stood on here a couple of weeks ago and said Paris Saint-Germain will not win the Champions League, because they’re soft and they always have been soft, for five, six, seven years.
“People get carried away and say, ‘Look at all those players, they’re gonna win the Champions League.’ It’s virtually impossible to do it.
“Real Madrid proved that years and years ago, get all the best players in the world and you think you’re gonna win it. It doesn’t happen like that, it’s much more about team work.”
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Karim Benzema exploited PSG’s soft underbelly with three quick-fire goalsCredit: Getty
Rio Ferdinand pinned the blame on PSG’s front three and not the managerCredit: PA