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14 Dec, 2020 13:46

‘What if Messi joins PSG in January?’: Fans speculate as Champions League draw could pose more questions than answers for Barca

‘What if Messi joins PSG in January?’: Fans speculate as Champions League draw could pose more questions than answers for Barca

European powerhouses Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona will meet in a glamor Champions League knockout tie following Monday's draw, but some fans are asking if wantaway icon Lionel Messi might be in the French capital by then.

Messi has been the source of continuous speculation as to his future after the six-time Ballon d'Or winner attempted to navigate a route out of the Camp Nou in August. The Barca skipper ultimately relented in his desire to leave after it appeared his demands would lead him to a courtroom before it would certify his exit from the club he has represented since he was a boy.

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However, with new Barca coach Ronald Koeman drafted in to steady the ship, the Catalan club have again flattered to deceive so far this season as they currently stand in eighth position in the Spanish top flight - some nine points behind early pacesetters Real Sociedad. 

Barcelona's stuttering form has amped up speculation that Messi could once again agitate for a move. Language in the Argentine's contract states that he can leave for free at the end of any season - something he is tipped to push for once again - and this leaves a very shortlist of suitors who have the financial clout to push through such a high-profile transfer. 

And if the Barcelona hierarchy conclude that the writing is very much on the wall when it comes to Messi's eventual exit, the January transfer window likely represents the final opportunity for the club to command some kind of transfer fee for their most-prized asset. 

Pep Guardiola's Manchester City are one, but recent speculation has appears to have tipped the balance in the favor of French champions Paris Saint-Germain, who are rumored to have long held a desire to reunite Neymar with his former Catalan colleague. 

The PSG-Barca clash is a repeat of their round-of-16 tie from 2017 in which the Parisians dominated Barca 4-0 in the opener - only to surrender their advantage by losing 6-1 in the return leg in Spain. Messi scored one of the six in the Camp Nou from the penalty spot - and was joined on the scoresheet by then-teammate Neymar, who bagged two strikes of his own. 

If Messi was to complete a stunning move to France in January, it would be one of football's more unusual sights to see Barcelona's most impactful star lining up against his old team with the PSG logo over his chest - and breaking the hearts of countless Barca fans who have practically deified Messi throughout his record-breaking spell in Spain. 

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