PSG star Lionel Messi tests positive for Covid-19

Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain have confirmed that attacker Lionel Messi has tested positive for Covid-19.

The 34-year-old Argentine is one of four players who have the virus — the others are goalkeeper Sergio Rico, left-back Juan Bernat and midfielder Nathan Bitumazala.

“They are currently respecting isolation and are subject to the appropriate health protocols,” PSG said. The number of Covid cases in France has topped 200,000 a day this week.

PSG are due to take on fourth-tier club Vannes in the French Cup on Monday, while their next league game is away to Lyon next Sunday.

From Monday, fully vaccinated people in France who test positive will only have to isolate for seven days regardless of the coronavirus variant they were infected with, but can leave quarantine after five days if they show an antigen or negative PCR test.

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Mauricio Pochettino’s side are 13 points clear of second-placed Nice in Ligue 1, having lost just one game this season. Messi has played 16 games in all competitions — scoring six goals — since his summer move from Barcelona.

Speaking in a press conference on Sunday, Pochettino indicated Messi was still in Argentina and would not travel until he had tested negative, meaning he was unable to put a date on his possible return to action.

“We have been living with the virus for almost two years, everyone knows what to do in order not to be infected. But we can still catch it, there are things we cannot control,” said the former Tottenham Hotspur manager.

“This is the risk with which we live, on a global scale. In football, contact is inevitable, we share the dressing room.

“The risk of contamination is there, but we take all the necessary measures to try to prevent a player from infecting others.”

PSG also issued an update on Neymar who is currently in Brazil and will continue his treatment on an ankle injury which has seen him miss eight games. The French club expect the Brazilian attacker to be back in training in “about three weeks”.

Neymar suffered ligament damage on his ankle during a 3-1 league win over St Etienne in November.

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