Pochettino aims sly dig at Barcelona and Real Madrid amid Messi to PSG links

Paris Saint-Germain manager Mauricio Pochettino appeared to direct a subtle dig towards Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid when asked about the situation regarding Lionel Messi.

The Argentinean superstar's future is still very much up in the air, with his contract with Barca set to expire at the end of the season.

PSG and Manchester City are the two clubs who are being most strongly linked with potential offers to attempt to lure Messi away from the Nou Camp.

And there was controversy on Tuesday when the popular publication France Football mocked up an image of Messi in a PSG shirt on their front page.

Barcelona have already expressed their annoyance with the tactics PSG are using in their pursuit of Messi, with their coach Ronald Koeman labelling them "disrespectful".

But when asked about France Football's cover, Pochettino quickly dismissed any notion that PSG were behind it – and hit out at Barca and Madrid for their own transfer methods in the past.

"It's clear that here there is absolute respect for all clubs and the players of other clubs," Pochettino said.

"We mustn't confuse a magazine like France Football designing a cover like that, it has nothing to do with PSG.

"When one player talks about another it is out of friendship and affection.

"At no moment have we done anything incorrect. Barcelona and Real Madrid players are allowed to talk about other club's players."

Pochettino may have been referring to PSG star Neymar, who has long been linked with a return to La Liga.

With tensions rising between Barcelona and PSG, it adds a certain spice to their Champions League last-16 clash, with the first leg taking place in Catalonia next Tuesday.

Messi, meanwhile, is unlikely to make a decision over his future until April or May at the earliest as he continues to focus on winning at least one more trophy before his likely departure from Barcelona.

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