World news – Messi « 100pc sign » as Barca prepare for their suitors

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Barcelona’s Lionel Messi scored a spectacular goal against Alaves on Saturday at the Camp Nou in Barcelona. Photo: Albert Gea / Reuters

Paris Saint-Germain will travel to Barcelona tonight for the Champions League round of 16. The French side’s relentless pursuit of Lionel Messi makes a rivalry with recent history even more exciting.

Barca’s 6-1 win over PSG in their last 16 in 2017 after losing 4-0 in the first leg was one of the most greatest comebacks of all time and resulted in the Paris team paying € 222m to win Neymar, the standout player of the night.

Now they have Messi in their sights. PSG players, coaches and directors speak of their excitement over the prospect of bringing the Argentine to the French capital when his contract with Barcelona expires in June. PSG is backed by the Qatari royal family and is one of the few Clubs that could afford Messi’s staggering salary. Spanish newspaper El Mundo said it is the largest in the world of sport.

PSG sporting director Leonardo said they had « reserved a seat at the table » if Messi wanted to negotiate with new clubs if he broke up should decide to end his 17-year career at Barca, while winger Angel di Maria has made it clear that he wants to be reunited with his Argentine team-mate in Paris.

The comments upset Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman, but PSG manager Mauricio Pochettino said last week that he doesn’t understand the excitement.

Messi, who has admitted that his attempt to leave Barca last summer resulted in a loss of form at the beginning of the current campaign, is back to his best and has warmed up for the PSG game with two sensational goals in a 5-1 game against Alaves.

« Messi is 100 percent committed to Barcelona and will make his decision at the end of the season n. We don’t pay attention to what other clubs and players say, ”said Barca left-back Jordi Alba in yesterday’s press conference before the game.

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