The latest sports news:
- Messi among 4 PSG players to test positive for COVID-19
- Rangers star Panarin added to COVID-19 protocol list
Messi isolating in Argentina
Lionel Messi is isolating at home in Argentina after being among four Paris Saint-Germain players announced Sunday as testing positive for the coronavirus ahead of the team’s return to playing after a brief winter break.
PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino is uncertain when the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner will be able to return to France, or whether he can recover in time to play away to Lyon in the league next Sunday.
Leading clubs across Europe, including Barcelona and Real Madrid, have been depleted by coronavirus infections — reflecting a wider surging case numbers on the continent spurred by the omicron variant.
England has been the most affected as the Premier League has played on through the Christmas holidays amid a wave of postponements.
Liverpool announced three further suspected coronavirus cases ahead of kickoff at Chelsea on Sunday with goalkeeper Alisson, forward Roberto Firmino and defender Joel Matip isolating. Manager Jurgen Klopp had already entered isolation so missed the trip to London.
French clubs are back playing for the first time in 1 1/2 weeks, a break which allowed players to go home or on holiday.
Mauricio Pochettino’s options for Monday’s French Cup match at third-tier Vannes have also been depleted by left back Juan Bernat, backup goalkeeper Sergio Rico and midfielder Nathan Bitumazala contracting COVID-19.
It’s unclear whether the quartet, including Messi, will be fit to play again, although PSG has a 13-point lead at the top of the standings.
“With regards to Leo, he’s in contact with our medical service,” Pochettino said. “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.”
PSG resumed training earlier this week, raising the prospect of further infections in the squad.
“It’s the risk everyone runs in football on a world scale,” Pochettino said. “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.”
Monaco said Saturday that seven players had COVID-19 but none showed any worrying signs and are isolating. Last year’s French Cup runner-up was in action later Sunday at second-tier Quevilly-Rouen.
Rangers’ Panarin placed on COVID-19 protocol list
The New York Rangers announced that star forward Artemi Panarin and assistant coach Mike Kelly were added to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list shortly before the start of their game against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday. Panarin has 10 goals and 26 assists in 31 games this season.
Chicago goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury was removed from the list on Sunday after being added last Monday.
The 37-year-old is 9-10-1 with two shutouts, a .913 save percentage and 2.86 goals-against average in his first season with Chicago. They host the Calgary Flames on Sunday night.
The Lightning got goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy and forward Anthony Cirelli back from the COVID-19 protocol list. Vasilevskiy, 17-4-3 with a 2.14 GAA, was added to the list last Sunday and missed three games. Cirelli, also back after missing three games, has nine goals and nine assists in 28 games.