Even more than usual, Lionel Messi was at the heart of the majority of the debates before the Barça-PSG clash in the Champions League (Tuesday, 9 p.m. on RMC Sport). Because the Argentinean could still be the X factor of the match, but also because Paris has gradually positioned itself to try to recruit him next summer.
For many, for almost everyone, Lionel Messi had to be the man of one club. Barça’s Francesco Totti. The Catalan Ryan Giggs. Until last summer. Tired of management problems, tired of recurring disillusions on the European scene, and also tired of being held responsible for all the blaugrana evils, the six-fold Golden Ball announced at the end of August that he wanted to leave FC Barcelona after two decades of loyal service. One year from the end of his contract.
In the end, the 33-year-old striker remained – a bit constrained and forced – for what appears to be, barring extra time, a final lap. A last year marked by many rumors about his future. Because in four and a half months now, the best player in the world will be free. Free to join the club of their choice. Who could be PSG? Why not.
This is not a scoop: the French club is one of the richest on the planet, one of the only ones able to financially assume the monstrous salary of the Argentine. He knows it, and in recent months, has gradually positioned himself on the issue.
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In December, the Neymar bomb
At the beginning of September, on the Canal Football Club set, the sports director Leonardo opened the door for the first time. Or, at least, didn’t close it. “Considering the financial situation, it’s complicated to think about that today. But when we were told that Messi wanted to leave, it titillated us, recognized the Brazilian. You say to yourself: ‘Put ***, that would be possible ‘. These are players completely out of the discussion. Messi who ends up in Paris, it would be something … “Something crazy?
Early fall was then quiet in statements. But in early December, after a brace against Manchester United in the Champions League, Neymar rekindled the flame, saying he wanted to play again with Messi. And quickly. “This is what I want the most, to have fun with him again, let loose the PSG playing master at ESPN’s microphone. It could be anywhere, I don’t have any problem! But I want to replay with him, that’s for sure. Of course, we have to do it next year. “
What to fear a return of the Brazilian in Catalonia? Barely. As announced by RMC Sport, “Ney” found an agreement with PSG a few weeks later for a four-year extension. To see the Brazilian and the Argentinian together, only one option remains: the Parisian option.
Leonardo’s little phrase that Catalonia has not digested
And then in mid-January, the temperature rose a notch between the two clubs after the publication of an interview with Leonardo in France Football. A Leonardo this time less cautious than in September “Great players like Messi will always be on the PSG list, he said. This is of course not the time to talk about it, or to dream about it. ( …) But we are sitting at the big table of those who are following the file closely. In fact, no, we are not yet seated, but our chair is just reserved in case … Four months (d ‘here the end of the season, note) in football, it’s an eternity, especially in this period. “
This time, the call of the foot is obvious, even if it is not to be excluded that the sports director, aware of the next duel in the Champions League, wanted to tease the opposing camp. Who reacted quickly. From the local sports press to the various candidates for the presidency of Barça, the Catalonia of football was quick to cry out to the company of destabilization, to the lack of sportsmanship on the part of PSG.
Very measured on the Messi case, Mauricio Pochettino – cooked from his presentation press conference – made sure not to add more, specifying that the recent statements of Angel Di Maria or Leandro Paredes, who also campaigned for a arrival of their compatriot in Paris, belonged only to them. But the PSG-Barça match, before the European reunion, was launched. Without the main interested party saying the slightest word about it.