PARIS (AP) — Seven-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi remains back home in Argentina after being among four players in the Paris Saint-Germain squad to have tested positive for the coronavirus ahead of the team’s French Cup game on Monday night.
PSG added that one staff member also had COVID-19 in a statement on Saturday night. None of them were named at that point, but in a further statement on the team’s medical news Sunday the club named Messi, left back Juan Bernat, backup goalie Sergio Rico and 19-year-old midfielder Nathan Bitumazala.
PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino is uncertain when Messi will be able to return to France, or whether he can recover in time to play away to Lyon in the league next Sunday.
“We’ve been living with the virus for nearly two years now and everyone knows what they must do to avoid a contamination. But a lot about how the virus functions is still unknown,” Pochettino said Sunday at a pre-game news conference. “With regards to Leo, he’s in contact with our medical service. I don’t know if he’ll be able to play in Lyon. He tested positive in Argentina (and) until he’s negative, he won’t be able to travel to France. We’ll see when he gets back.”
Title-holder PSG is playing at third-tier Vannes, and Pochettino was asked if he’s concerned the virus may have spread among other players after training resumed late this week.
“It’s the risk everyone runs in football on a world scale. Contact is unavoidable in football, it’s obvious that there are more risks,” he said. “We’ve taken all the steps necessary to avoid a player transmitting the virus to another. I do what the medical service personnel tell us to.”
Last year’s runner-up Monaco was in action later Sunday at second-tier Quevilly-Rouen in one of 13 games scheduled for the day as sides bid to reach the last 16.
Monaco said Saturday that seven players had COVID-19 but none showed any worrying signs and are isolating.
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