Paris Saint-Germain veteran defender Marquinhos has addressed rumours linking Lionel Messi with Paris Saint-Germain, admitting that the Barcelona superstar is a “great player”.
Messi, who has spent his entire career to date at Camp Nou, is approaching the final six months of his current contract at Barca.
The 33-year-old tried to activate a clause in that deal which allows him to leave the club at the end of any season in August, having been powerless to prevent the team from falling to a humiliating Champions League defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich.
However, after considering the potential legal ramifications of forcing through a transfer amid pressure from both Barca and La Liga, Messi ultimately decided to stay put, and has since resumed his role as club captain under new head coach Ronald Koeman.
Speculation over the Argentine’s future is still swirling though, with PSG, Manchester City and Inter reportedly leading the race to sign the six-time Ballon d’Or winner.
Parc des Princes talisman Neymar, who played alongside Messi at Camp Nou between 2013 and 2017, fuelled talk of a potential move to France for his former team-mate after starring in a 3-1 win over Manchester United in the Champions League at the start of the month.
Marquinhos has now expressed his admiration towards Messi, while refusing to rule out the possibility of the Argentina international’s arrival at PSG in 2021.
“We’ll see what happens. At times we are rivals with the national team and at club level. Messi is a great player,” the Brazilian defender told beIN Sports.
“We all know what he is capable of and we will see what happens.”
Messi will come up against his potential suitors in the Champions League knockout stages, with Barca set to face PSG in the round of 16 for the first time since their stunning comeback victory over the Ligue 1 champions in 2016-17.
The Blaugrana lost the first leg 4-0 in Paris before staging a remarkable turnaround to progress 6-1 on aggregate, and Marquinhos is embracing the challenge of coming up against the Catalan giants on Europe’s biggest stage once again.
“It’s a great match to play in. It’s a great opponent and a great challenge. We expect a great battle and we will have to be prepared for this match,” he said.
“We saw the draw; there were not many opponents left, we were ready to see any opponent come out.”
Neymar inspired Barca to victory over PSG three years ago, but Marquinhos says his compatriot will be determined to have the same effect for Thomas Tuchel’s side when the tie kicks off in February.
“The team has changed a lot at home. We have more maturity, the context will be very different. Neymar hurt us at that time,” he added.
“Now he is with us and he really wants to play this match and make us win.”