Messi PSG shirt "provocation" sparks Pochettino and Rivaldo disagreement

Mauricio Pochettino says Paris Saint-Germain's conscience is clear over the controversial France Football front cover featuring Barcelona icon Lionel Messi mocked up in the French giants' kit.

The pair meet in the last-16 of the Champions League next Tuesday, and the national publication have turned up the heat ahead of the match by suggesting that Messi will move to Paris in the summer when his current contract expires.

Barca legend Rivaldo has called the cover "very incorrect and disrespectful" while officials at the Catalan giants have hit out at what they see as attempts to unsettle Messi.

As well as the cover, the Argentinean's former Barca teammate Neymar and current international colleague Angel Di Maria have also gone public stating their desire to see Messi join them in the French capital.

New boss Pochettino, a compatriot of Messi's, sees nothing wrong with that though, and has pointed to similar tactics employed by Barca in the past.

"When a player speaks, he is talking out of affection, excitement and friendship," said Pochettino, via ESPN.

"There's no controversial issue that has been generated by the club. At no time has there been a lack of respect or gone against a situation that is not the correct one.

"Players can talk and can say what they want. They do so from feelings, just as Real Madrid and Barcelona players do. They can talk about teammates that are at other clubs."

On the cover specifically he added: "We are talking about a magazine that has nothing to do with Paris [the club]."

PSG are thought to be at the front of the queue to sign Messi in the summer as one of the few clubs able to afford his huge wages.

Rivaldo isn't happy at the tactics seemingly being employed in order to take him to the club though, and accused France Football of playing a part in the attempts to spirit Messi away.

"I think that's very incorrect and disrespectful to Barcelona, especially one week away from a huge clash between the two sides in the Champions League," Rivaldo told Betfair.

"But this is also disrespectful to Messi since he can be harmed by it, after all if the Spanish club loses the tie to PSG many fans or press could argue that he wasn't fully committed to the team, also adding that the pressure on his shoulders will be gigantic.

"We can see it as a provocation from the French magazine and it seems a clear mistake from them as they are a worldwide respected magazine, and I don't think they can gain anything from this."

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