“If they ask me if I’m interested in Neymar or Mbappe, I would also say yes” – Barca boss teases PSG owner

Cavani, Mbappe & Neymar

PSG reserve their Messi seat

What feels like the footballing equivalent of the War of the Worlds is beginning to heat up, as the fighting talk intensifies between the representatives of Barcelona and PSG, over Lionel Messi’s future.

The Argentine’s contract is due to expire at the end of the current campaign, though there is hope within Barcelona that the club can convince him to remain at the Camp Nou. Interest from abroad, however, has been rife, with French champions PSG thought to be particularly keen on the 33-year-old.

The capital club’s director, Leonardo, has even teased that they are ready to focus their efforts on Messi’s signing, if the opportunity arises.

“Great players like Messi will always be on PSG’s list,” he said. “But this is of course not the time to talk about it, or to dream about it.”

Rabiot and Messi

BARCELONA, SPAIN – MARCH 08: Adrien Rabiot of PSG in action with Lionel Messi during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg match between FC Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain at Camp Nou on March 8, 2017 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

“But we are seated at the large table of those clubs who are following the matter closely. In fact, no, we are not yet seated, but our chair is reserved just in case. Four months in football is an eternity, especially in this period.”

Adding further fuel to the fire, meanwhile, is the fact that the two clubs are set to face off in the Champions League’s knockout stages. Barca coach Ronald Koeman, in turn, was recently asked about Leonardo’s comments, and opted for an equally tactical response regarding some of the French club’s biggest players:

“If they ask me if I’m interested in Neymar or Mbappe, I would also say yes,” said Koeman.

Neymar has of course been linked with a return to the Catalan side for a significant period of time, with even Messi himself hopeful of the Brazilian making a comeback.

Koeman believes Messi ban too harsh

Barcelona’s talisman was sent off during the club’s 3-2 Spanish Super Cup final defeat against Athletic Club on Sunday, after swiping out at forward Asier Villalibre.

It was confirmed that the Argentine will now serve a 2-match suspension rather than a potential 4, viewed as being of benefit to Barca. However, Koeman has since confirmed the Blaugrana’s frustration with the sanction:

“The club does not agree and we will see. I think there are things that can be defended, but it is up to the club. Hopefully they will reduce it. If not, two games without Leo,” he said.

Koeman also spoke about how Messi has reacted since the cup final defeat:

“Leo has trained with a lot of desire. I have not seen anything strange about him. Everyone was sad about the result of the final, but we kept going. We are on the way to improve things. The game, defensively we have to improve. Leo is very involved.”

Messi will now miss a Copa del Rey tie against lower-league opposition Cornella. Barca will need to be wary of the underdogs, who eliminated La Liga title favourites Atletico Madrid earlier in the competition.

The Argentine will also be absent for a league clash with Elche. Barca currently sit 3rd in the La Liga table, 7 points behind Atleti, but having played two games more.

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This article was edited by Conor Laird.