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Pochettino Did What No Manager Has Done In The Last Decade — He Substituted Lionel Messi Off

You simply don’t take off the best player in the world.

Mauricio Pochettino is in the headlines after he made the bold decision to substitute Lionel Messi during Paris Saint-Germain’s tight 2-1 victory against Lyon on Sunday. How many times has Messi been subbed you might ask? Almost never.

With the scored tied at 1-1 Pochettino felt that taking Messi out of the game would help his side. 

PSG did find a late winner through Mauro Icardi, but reporters have still been asking Pochettino why he substituted Messi in the 76th minute. The PSG manager said that Messi didn’t have a problem with being taken out of the game.

If Messi didn’t have a problem with it then why all the media fuss? Part of the reason there has been such a big reaction is due to how rare it is for Messi to be taken out of a close game. Why would anyone ever take out one of the best players in the world?

This begs the question; how many times has Messi been subbed out? Courtesy of Transfermarkt, I went through the last twelve seasons of Messi’s career for club and country to find the answer. Since 2010 Messi has only been subbed out nine times for non-injury related reasons. All nine games were ones that Barcelona had a comfortable grip on the game and that Messi had scored in.

How Many Times Has Messi Been Subbed (Since 2010)

  • Jan. 9, 2021: Messi was subbed out in the 65th minute vs. Granada. At the time of the substitution Messi had scored twice and Barcelona was leading 4-0.
  • Jan. 11, 2018: Messi was subbed out in the 59th minute vs. Celta Vigo. At the time of the substitution Messi had scored twice and Barcelona was leading 4-0.
  • April 26, 2017: Messi was subbed out in the 63rd minute vs. Osasuna. At the time of the substitution Messi had scored twice and Barcelona was leading 4-1.
  • March 1, 2017: Messi was subbed out in the 61st minute vs. Sporting Gijón. At the time of the substitution Messi had scored once and Barcelona was leading 5-1.
  • Feb. 4, 2017: Messi was subbed out in the 64th minute vs. Athletic Bilbao. At the time of the substitution Messi had scored once and Barcelona was leading 2-0.
  • Jan. 17, 2016: Messi was subbed out in the 45th minute vs. Athletic Bilbao. At the time of the substitution Messi had scored once and Barcelona was leading 2-0.
  • Oct. 21, 2014: Messi was subbed out in the 66th minute vs. Ajax. At the time of the substitution Messi had scored once and Barcelona was tied 1-1. Barcelona was in control of the game and went on to win 3-1.
  • Jan. 24, 2013: Messi was subbed out in the 83rd minute vs. Málaga. At the time of the substitution Messi had scored once and Barcelona was leading 4-2.
  • Jan. 12, 2011: Messi was subbed out in the 86th minute vs. Real Betis. At the time of the substitution Messi had scored a hat trick and Barcelona was leading 5-0.

As you can see, managers simply don’t remove Messi from the equation during a close game.

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