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PSG's Herrera opens up on Messi's impact, Mbappe's contract situation, Neymar's commitment & more

13:29 EAT 24/12/2021
Messi Neymar Mbappe PSG 2021-09-28
The Spanish midfielder has weighed in on a variety of subjects as he continues to form part of a star-studded squad at Parc des Princes

Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Ander Herrera has opened up on Lionel Messi's impact at the club while also addressing Kylian Mbappe's contract situation and the questions that have been asked over Neymar's commitment.

Herrera was snapped up by PSG on a free transfer in 2019 following his departure from Manchester United and has since helped the club win six domestic trophies and reach their maiden Champions League final.

Mbappe and Neymar have spearheaded PSG's silverware pursuit during that period, but Messi added even greater firepower to Mauricio Pochettino's ranks in the summer, with Herrera delighted to now be playing alongside the "the best footballer in history".

What's been said?

Messi, who spent 21 illustrious years at Barcelona before signing for PSG in August, has recorded a modest six goals and five assists in his first 16 outings for the French giants.

Herrera doesn't think the Argentine has struggled to adapt to life in France, though, as he insists that the rest of the squad must do more to help him reach his best level.

"Players of Messi's level shorten the acclimatisation time," Herrera has told Mundo Deportivo. "He will play the same way in France, in Spain, in Japan or in Madagascar.

"He has won his seventh Ballon d'Or and trains and enjoys as if he were only starting to play now. No training action is taken as a joke.

"At times we have already seen the best version of Leo, as against [Manchester] City at home, but I think it is also the responsibility of all those around him. We have to put ourselves at his service to get the best out of him. Normally, regular players have to adapt to a new context. 

"Now it is the other way around because we are talking about the best footballer in history."

Pressed on whether Messi is being overshadowed by Mbappe, Herrera replied: "Kylian will be the best player in the world for many years to come, but we all agree that Leo is number one. No doubt. Mbappe has an immense humility and desire to learn from Leo."

Will Mbappe extend his contract?

PSG are still working to try and tie Mbappe down to fresh terms amid reported interest from Real Madrid, who came close to prising him away from Parc des Princes in the last transfer window.

Mbappe only has six months left to run on his current deal, but Herrera is hopeful he will choose to remain in the French capital for the foreseeable future.

"There is scope to try to renew Mbappe," he said. "We have many examples of footballers who have done it in February, March or April. There's still time."

Herrera added on the picture circulating on social media of the PSG squad celebrating Mbappe's 23rd birthday by giving him a shirt with 'Mbappe 2050' printed on the back: "He is an open, friendly, funny guy. He understands life with humour and there are healthy jokes between us that make a group. We do not pressure each other at all about our futures. 

"I'm not kidding you, we don't talk about anyone's contractual issues in the dressing room."

Herrera shuns Neymar critics

Neymar's attitude has been a talking point throughout his time at PSG, with a world record signing still a divisive figure among supporters due to a perceived lack of work rate.

It has also been suggested that the Brazilian, who has suffered a number of serious injuries at Parc des Princes, allows himself to become too distracted by the party scene in France, but Herrera insists he is a model professional.

"I don't care what is said about Ney. I know him well, he is my friend and he has a huge heart. Not to mention as a footballer - he is exceptional," he said.

"What millions of people who do not know him say has nothing to do with my experience. Friends and family who have visited me and have spent time with him corroborate that."

Ramos' rocky start and PSG's CL chances

Messi was not the only big name to arrive at PSG in the summer, with Ramos linking up with Pochettino's side after bringing the curtain down on his 16-year career at Real Madrid.

The World Cup winner missed the start of the season through injury and received a red card in only his third outing for the club as they drew 1-1 with Lorient on Wednesday, but Herrera is certain he will become a key player in the squad.

"Of course [It has not been easy for him]," he said of Ramos. "He's used to feeling important, playing and leading. But he has now been training for two or three weeks at a fantastic level and we are optimistic. 

"It shows in his character and in the happiness he radiates."

Herrera went on to admit that the PSG are under more pressure to win the Champions League with the likes of Messi and Ramos now on their books.

"We want to win the Champions League and we are going to try," he said. "There's no doubt. But just because we have Messi doesn't mean we're entitled to more than everyone else.

"We understand that people expect the best from us, but in Europe there are eight or ten other teams with the same chances of winning."

Real Madrid are next up for Pochettino's men in the round of 16, but Herrera does not feel PSG can be considered favourites against the Liga leaders.

He added: "A club that has thirteen Champions [League titles], against one that has not yet been European champions, has to be a slight favourite."

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