Paris Saint-Germain on Saturday omitted superstars Neymar and Lionel Messi from their squad for the Ligue 1 meeting with Strasbourg in the evening.
For the second game of the season, coach Mauricio Pochettino has again not selected any of the players who returned to the club late from the Euros or the Copa America. Messi, who played in the South American final against Neymar and Brazil, only signed for PSG on Tuesday.
The 34-year-old Messi didn’t start training with his new teammates until Thursday. Pochettino said the coaching staff would be taking it “step by step” with the Argentine striker so that he “is in the best possible condition when he starts.”
“It was a great opportunity to see him in action,” said Pochettino. Also still out of the squad are Brazilian Marquinhos, Argentines Angel Di Maria and Leandro Paredes, who all started the Copa final on July 10, and Italians Gianluigi Donnarumma and Marco Verratti, who started in the Euro final victory over England the next day.
They are continuing the physical preparation they began when they returned to the training centre on August 6.
Another big name summer signing Sergio Ramos is injured and not expected to make his debut until after the international break in early September.
Messi will still be the star attraction at a gala evening being prepared for PSG’s first home league game of the season when Parc des Princes will be full for the first time in more than 17 months.
Messi, like the other new signings from a busy summer at PSG, will be presented to the public before kick-off. Kylian Mbappe, who was part of the France team that went out of the Euros to Switzerland in the round of 16 and who played in the opening week win at Troyes, is in the squad.
Pochettino could field the same starting XI which won at Troyes last Saturday.