Former Paris Saint-Germain star, Jerome Rothen has hit out at club manager, Mauricio Pochettino - claiming that the Argentinian made a serious mistake in substituting Lionel Messi's during their 2-1 win over Lyon in Ligue 1 over the weekend.
Pochettino's substitution of Messi in the 75th minute of the game created headlines around the world, considering that the player himself looked dismayed at the decision and seemed to snub a handshake with his compatriot and new manager.
While it later emerged that Pochettino was protecting Messi after he picked up a knee injury during the game, Rothen believes that the manager is treating his newest superstar in a different way to his strike partners Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.
"There was a total misunderstanding. We saw it, Lionel Messi wanted to stay on the pitch. Pochettino made his decision in his heart and conscience. Where I find it completely inappropriate on the part of Pochettino, it's that he's never been like that with the other stars of the team," he told RMC.
"Since he arrived, whether it was Neymar or [Kylian] Mbappe, he always left them on the pitch, even when they were bad. He has always protected them unlike other players like [Angel] Di Maria, [Leandro] Paredes, [Mauro] Icardi. Then, Lionel Messi arrives, in terms of status and aura, Messi is much superior to Neymar and Mbappe.
"I don't know what he played. Did he want to mark his territory? I do not hope, because there, he is completely crazy. We do not cry genius there. You are going to put your best player on your back. It leaves traces, this kind of event. And the image is terrible. He made a serious mistake. Pochettino crashed there," Rothen added.
Messi who moved to Paris amid much fanfare in the summer, is yet to open his account for the club and will now miss their next game against Metz due to a knee injury.