Even if not quite the force they once were, Manchester United still like to show their fans their ambitions match up, especially in the transfer market.

Interim manager Ralf Rangnick has the job of ensuring the Red Devils qualify for next season's Champions League and is currently on course, with them sitting fourth in the Premier League.

However, the club supposedly remain confident of adding big names at the end of the season regardless of a top-four finish.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UTD WANT MORE ENGLAND STARS

Manchester United believe they can attract big names to Old Trafford at the end of the season, even if they may not have Champions League football to offer.

According to ESPN, the Premier League club have an ambitious list of targets that includes England pair Declan Rice and Harry Kane, and they believe the 2016 signing of Paul Pogba – when they were in the Europa League – is proof the name of the club is enticing enough.

It remains to be seen what that means for whomever the incoming permanent manager is by then, but they will likely not say no to additions of that calibre.

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Atletico Madrid are plotting a move for Georginio Wijnaldum from Paris Saint-Germain, according to Fichajes.

- Calciomercato claims Inter wish to add Torino defender Bremer to their ranks next season and may already have an agreement with the player.

- Meanwhile, Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembele is being pursued on a free transfer by both Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain, 90min reports.

- The Catalan giants could get one in return though as they have offered a two-year deal to Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta, according to Sport.

- Marca is reporting Tottenham are looking at Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Unai Simon as a potential long-term replacement for Hugo Lloris.

Roma could reignite their interest in Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka at the end of the season, Calciomercato says.

Kylian Mbappe to Real Madrid has often felt like a never-ending transfer saga, but it appears a resolution might now be in sight.

Los Blancos are apparently confident of getting the Paris Saint-Germain star in 2022 even though their performance did not impress him in the Champions League.

However, Madrid do have a back-up plan.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID CONFIDENT ON MBAPPE BUT MANE IS PLAN B

Real Madrid believe they will win the battle to sign Kylian Mbappe on a free transfer from Paris Saint-Germain in 2022.

Carlo Ancelotti's side are preparing to announce the deal at the end of the season, according to Goal.

However, should their efforts to sign Mbappe or Erling Haaland fail, Madrid have a back-up plan: Fichajes claims they will submit an offer for Sadio Mane.

ROUND-UP

Arsenal are interested in signing Joao Felix from Atletico Madrid, according to television show El Chiringuito.

Manchester United have been quoted €75million (£62.5m) for RB Leipzig star Christopher Nkunku, Bild says.

- Meanwhile, United striker Edinson Cavani is ready to listen to an offer to join Botafogo when his contract expires, Goal claims.

- According to Sport, Tottenham have submitted the firmest offer to sign Paulo Dybala from Juventus, but Barcelona and Inter are also interested.

Milan are resigned to losing Franck Kessie after this season and could replace him with Renato Sanches, Tuttosport says.

UEFA has decided to move the Champions League final from St Petersburg, according to the BBC. The game could be held in London.

Lionel Messi has expressed his enjoyment at developing a partnership with Kylian Mbappe at Paris Saint-Germain.

Messi departed Barcelona on a free transfer last August to move to the Parc des Princes, where he joined up with former Blaugrana star Neymar and France international Mbappe.

The Argentina international has managed just two goals in 15 Ligue 1 appearances for Mauricio Pochettino's side, who sit 13 points clear at the summit of the French top flight.

Despite a lean run of scoring form, Messi acknowledged how grateful he is to be playing with some of the world's best players, including talisman Mbappe.

"[Angel] di Maria and Ney[mar] I know them from before [at Barcelona and Argentina]," Messi said in an interview with PSG's media that was released on Tuesday.

"With Kylian it was the one I didn't know and little by little we get to know each other much more and within the field to try to relate better, to see how we feel comfortable with each other. 

"I was lucky to be with the best at Barcelona and today at PSG too, I'm happy and looking forward to continuing to do so."

Mbappe leads PSG's scoring charts this season, with 17 goals to his name across all competitions.

Since his debut for PSG in September 2017, only Robert Lewandowski (151), Messi (125), Ciro Immobile (118), Cristiano Ronaldo (116) and Mohamed Salah (110) have found the net on more occasions than Mbappe (103) across Europe's top-five leagues.

Meanwhile, from that same group only Lewandowski (80.55) can boast a better minutes-per-goal ratio than Mbappe's 99.99.

However, there is speculation the Frenchman may leave for Real Madrid when his contract expires at the end of the season.

But Mbappe showed no loyalties to Carlo Ancelotti's team just yet, with his impressive solo goal proving the difference in a 1-0 triumph over Madrid in the first leg of PSG's Champions League round-of-16 clash.

While Pochettino's side have to navigate a trip to the Spanish capital to secure their quarter-final berth, Messi believes PSG are equipped to win the competition.

"Winning the Champions League is difficult, it is a competition where the best are, any detail can leave you out," he added.

"So many great clubs and teams compete, we have a team to try to achieve it. We are very excited and we want to be able to do it but we have to go with peace of mind. 

"The best team does not always win and you have to be aware of all the details, the strong teams are the ones that achieve their goals."

Mauricio Pochettino's future at Paris Saint-Germain is unclear amid rumblings that he wants out.

Manchester United have been linked with the ex-Tottenham manager, who took over at PSG in January last year.

The Red Devils dismissed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in November, with Ralf Rangnick taking over on an interim basis.


TOP STORY – LOS BLANCOS KEEN ON POCHETTINO

Real Madrid are set to rival Manchester United to land Pochettino this off-season, claims the Daily Mail.

The Red Devils are understood to be circling for the Argentine, who is reportedly unhappy at Paris Saint-Germain.

But the report claims Madrid have doubts over current boss Carlo Ancelotti's future and believe that Pochettino is obtainable in the off-season.

 

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- Manchester City's Portugal midfielder Bernardo Silva is dreaming of a switch to join Real Madrid, claims Calciomercato.

- Calciomercato also reports that Inter are monitoring Gabriel Jesus' status at City, with a view to bolstering their attack.

- Nicolo Schira reports that Atalanta are keen to move for Torino's Italy international striker Andrea Belotti in the off-season when he is a free agent.

- TuttoMercatoWeb claims Arsenal, Newcastle United, Borussia Dortmund and Inter are all in the race to sign Lille's Canadian forward Jonathan David.

- GiveMeSport claims Liverpool are "seriously interested" in West Ham United's Jarrod Bowen.

- Roma are keen on signing Barcelona's USA international defender Sergino Dest according to Fichajes.

Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo hit out at the officials after the Parisians slipped to a 3-1 loss at Nantes, claiming referee Mikael Lesage favoured the hosts throughout their second loss of the Ligue 1 season.

PSG found themselves 3-0 down at half-time in an absorbing contest, during which both teams were awarded penalties, Ludovic Blas scoring from the spot for the hosts before Neymar's inexplicable second-half penalty miss halted a potential comeback from the visitors.

Meanwhile, home defender Dennis Appiah saw a first-half red card correctly overturned by VAR, before being fortunate to avoid a second booking when giving away PSG's spot-kick, and the visitors were enraged by Nicolas Pallois' tackle on Kylian Mbappe.

Speaking to Canal+ after the contest, Leonardo admitted the French league leaders did not perform well, but fumed at the officiating of the match.

"It was a tough game for us," the Brazilian said. "After a Champions League match, we knew we were the team to beat. We conceded two goals and it was deserved. 

"[But] afterwards, all the choices [of the officials] were against us. He announced a minute of added time [at the end of the first half] and then the [Nantes] penalty [eventually taken six minutes into injury-time] comes four minutes later. 

"I think there is an urge to whistle against us. The referee doesn't even whistle [for Pallois' challenge]. You risk players having three months out with an injury.

"Afterwards, Appiah concedes a penalty, and he does not give yellow when it would have been red [for two bookable offences].

"The match was no longer controlled, for us as well as for Nantes, it was completely out of control."

 

PSG's Italian midfielder Marco Verratti was one of the eight players booked during an ill-tempered affair, and was also incensed by the decision not to award Appiah a second booking for his 58th-minute foul on Mbappe.

"Sometimes the referee says we can talk to him, this evening, we couldn't at all," the 29-year-old told Canal+. "He's the only referee in the world who does things like that. 

"Normally, a penalty is a yellow card and therefore a red card. How is it possible not to show a yellow card [to Appiah]? I think the referees have to take responsibility because there, we were s*** on by the refereeing."

Despite holding a 13-point lead at the Ligue 1 summit, Mauricio Pochettino's team have only won three of their last nine away league matches (drawing four and losing two), after winning 11 of their previous 12.

Paris Saint-Germain fell to just their second defeat of the Ligue 1 season as Mauricio Pochettino's side were beaten 3-1 by Nantes at Stade de la Beaujoire.

Goals from Randal Kolo Muani, Quentin Merlin and a Ludovic Blas penalty handed the home team an incredible 3-0 half-time lead, with goalkeeper Alban Lafont starring for the hosts.

Neymar pulled one back immediately after the restart before seeing a soft penalty effort saved on the hour and Nantes held on for the win, moving into fifth place in the French top-flight.

PSG remain well clear at the top of Ligue 1, but this was not how Pochettino will have envisaged following up their impressive 1-0 win against Real Madrid in the Champions League in midweek.

Nantes took a shock lead just three minutes into the game with Kolo Muani rounding off an efficient break by flicking home just seconds after Juan Bernat had forced a good save from Lafont.

The Nantes stopper made an excellent save from Lionel Messi moments later, before Merlin fired a stunning left-footed strike into the top corner from the edge of the area on 15 minutes, his first goal of the season.

Lafont denied Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, and Idrissa Gueye in an inspired performance, before Dennis Appiah had a red card correctly overturned after a VAR check. 

Another VAR intervention gave Nantes a penalty before half-time that Blas hammered home after Georginio Wijnaldum's clumsy handball.

Lille forward Timothy Weah hopes to play for Milan in the future because it is part of his "family history". 

Weah's father George spent five seasons at Milan in the 1990s, winning two Serie A titles and becoming the first – and still only – African player to win the Ballon d'Or. 

The 21-year-old would love to emulate his dad and represent the Rossoneri, though he insists his primary concern is to impress for Ligue 1 champions Lille. 

"Of course I am focused on Lille, but it has always been my ambition to one day play in a great league like Serie A and, in particular, for a big club like Milan, which is part of my family history after all," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport's Sportweek. 

"[My dad] never talks about it openly, but when I was a child, there was the idea of playing for the Rossoneri's youth teams. Things went differently, but maybe I'll arrive at Milan anyway. 

"Things go so fast in football, and you never know." 

United States international Weah has scored just five goals in 64 appearances in all competitions for Lille since arriving from Paris Saint-Germain – another of his father's former clubs – in June 2019. 

Weah has failed to score in Ligue 1 this season, despite making 19 appearances and starting 10 games. He has supplied three assists, but has only had three efforts on target.

His Lille team-mate Jonathan Bamba is the only forward to have made more Ligue 1 starts (18) without finding the net in 2021-22.

Lionel Messi is set to make the 800th senior appearance of his illustrious club career after being named in Paris Saint-Germain's squad to face Nantes.

The Argentina maestro is joined by Neymar in Mauricio Pochettino's 22-man travelling party for the trip to Stade de la Beaujoire, where the Ligue 1 leaders would move 16 points clear at the top with victory on Saturday.

Should he feature, as would be expected, Messi will reach the latest milestone of his glittering career, over 17 years after Frank Rijkaard handed him his Barcelona debut against Espanyol in October 2004.

The seven-time Ballon d'Or winner would make his 22nd appearance for PSG since joining from Barca on a free transfer, having scored seven times so far.

Messi, the Blaugrana's record appearance maker and scorer, played 778 times for Barca in all competitions, netting 672 goals.

Under Pep Guardiola, Messi played more games (219) and scored more goals (211) than with any other coach, while he is one of only two players to have netted 100 Champions League goals, with his tally of 125 behind only Cristiano Ronaldo's 140.

The 34-year-old is also approaching 1,000 career appearances, having won a record 158 caps for Argentina since his debut in 2005.

Meanwhile, Neymar is in contention to make his first start since suffering an ankle injury against Saint-Etienne in November.

The Brazil international, who returned as a substitute during Tuesday's Champions League win over Real Madrid, has endured a series of injury issues since his own move from Barcelona to Paris in 2017.

Indeed, he has failed to make over 20 Ligue 1 starts in a single season to date. 

Paul Pogba's future with Manchester United remains up in the air.

Pogba is out of contract at the end of this season and deferred contract talks with United.

The midfielder is reportedly open to offers with Pogba's agent Mino Raiola shopping him around.

 

TOP STORY – NEWCASTLE ENTER POGBA PURSUIT

Newcastle United have entered the race to sign Manchester United's Pogba, reports Fichajes.

The Magpies are hoping to land the 28-year-old France international on a free transfer, although it is unclear if he would entertain the move to a club that is currently battling relegation, albeit Newcastle will hope that will be different next season.

Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid and Juventus have also been linked with Pogba, who could also opt to stay at Old Trafford.

ROUND-UP

- Tottenham's Harry Kane will not decide on his future until the end of the season, after trying to join Manchester City last year, reports The Standard. Kane is currently not interested in discussing a contract extension with Spurs.

- Madrid have tabled a final offer for Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland claims Sport. Haaland has been pursued by several top clubs including PSG, Barcelona, United, Chelsea and Manchester City.

- Marca claims that Barcelona will swoop for Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen should he become a free agent this upcoming off-season.

- The Daily Star claims that Donny van de Beek will push for a permanent move away from Manchester United to Everton if his loan spell goes well.

- Milan are interested in Tottenham winger Steven Bergwijn, reports Calciomercato.

Mauricio Pochettino has moved to defend Lionel Messi after the Paris Saint-Germain forward's missed penalty against Real Madrid.

Although Kylian Mbappe's superb late winner put the Parisians on the brink of the Champions League quarter-finals, Messi's performance in the first leg drew criticism.

Since his first season in the competition (2004-05), no player has missed more Champions League penalties than Messi, who has failed with five spot-kicks.

But speaking ahead of PSG's Ligue 1 trip to Nantes on Saturday, Pochettino launched a strong defence of his fellow Argentinian.

"Messi is the best in the world," said former Tottenham boss Pochettino. "A player like him, with his experience, and what he means, is the essence of football.

"If you want to explain to someone what football is all about, it is Leo Messi.

"In no way will missing a penalty affect his confidence, that is impossible. If anyone thinks that, they do not understand this sport. 

"I am pleased with his performance. He played well [against Madrid], which was down to his ability to link difference pieces together on the pitch.

"Leo Messi is football."

Messi has struggled for consistency during a stop-start first season in French capital, netting just two league goals from an expected goals tally of 5.82, a notable underperformance of over three goals.

The former Barcelona captain was joined on the pitch against Real Madrid by Neymar, as the substitute provided the assist for Mbappe's match-winning strike with a sumptuous backheel.

Pochettino has confirmed the Brazilian is now in contention to make his first start since suffering an ankle injury against Saint-Etienne last November.

"Neymar could start [against Nantes]," Pochettino said on Friday.

"He has been doing well in training, and he has been very focused at every stage of his recovery, showing his commitment to get back to his best level and help the team.

"We hope that he is over these problems now, and through playing competitive games, that he can reach his best level."

Neymar has suffered a plethora of injury issues since making his own move from Barcelona to Paris in 2017, failing to make over 20 Ligue 1 starts in a single season to date. However, he has managed 59 goals and 34 assists in his 80 league appearances for the capital club.

Kylian Mbappe's name continues to dominate the transfer columns as he nears the end of his Paris Saint-Germain contract.

While Mbappe's future beyond this season remains uncertain, PSG appear to already have plans in place should he depart.

And if one superstar forward leaves the French capital, another could arrive in his place.


TOP STORY – PSG TO BRING IN RONALDO

According to The Mirror, PSG are looking to bring in Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United should they be unable to convince Mbappe to sign a new big-money deal.

Ronaldo only returned to Old Trafford last August, but the 37-year-old is said to be considering his future after an underwhelming campaign.

Should Ronaldo be tempted to move to Ligue 1, having already plied his trade in the Premier League, LaLiga and Serie A, he would get the chance to link up with Lionel Messi.

The pair have 12 Ballons d'Or between them and are regarded as two of the greatest players of all time.

ROUND-UP

- United are not expecting Paul Pogba to make a U-turn on his future by signing a new deal, according to the Manchester Evening News. The France international is set to become a free agent in four months' time and has been linked with PSG and former side Juventus.

- El Nacional claims that Chelsea are plotting a bid for Barcelona youngster Gavi. The Blues will reportedly have to pay £42million (€50m) to land the teenage midfielder, with other teams across Europe also showing an interest.

- Tottenham striker Harry Kane wants assurances that boss Antonio Conte will be backed in the next transfer window, suggests The Sun, after the Italian questioned the club's recruitment policy. That comes amid fresh rumours that Kane is considering his own Spurs future.

- According to Calciomercato, Real Madrid are ready to push ahead with plans to sign Kieran Tierney from Arsenal. Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti previously tried to sign Tierney during his time in charge of Napoli, but the Scottish left-back instead opted for the Gunners. 

- Manchester City are on the verge of getting a £5.4m deal over the line for Brazilian winger Savinho, says Fabrizio Romano. A medical is rumoured to have already been scheduled for the 17-year-old, who has impressed for Atletico Mineiro.

Manchester United face the prospect of losing key midfielder Paul Pogba on a free transfer at the end of the campaign.

The France international is into the final four months of his existing deal and there are few indications that he is prepared to extend his terms at Old Trafford.

And in a further blow for United, they could see Pogba head to one of their domestic top-flight rivals.


TOP STORY – POGBA OPEN TO PREMIER LEAGUE STAY

The Telegraph reports that Pogba, who rejoined United from Juventus in a big-money deal in 2016, is prepared to wait until the end of the season before deciding on his future.

Signing a new deal with United is said to remain an option, but Pogba will not be short of options should he become available to sign on a free – albeit with big wages to factor in.

The report indicates that the 28-year-old will weigh up any interest from fellow Premier League clubs, with Chelsea and Manchester City having previously been linked.


ROUND-UP

- It is shaping up to be a busy transfer window for United as a number of other players are also out of contract. According to Ekrem Konur, Edinson Cavani and Juan Mata are attracting strong interest from clubs in the Middle East.

- Jesse Lingard is another who could be on his way out of Old Trafford, though The Express claims that the England international is not considering a free transfer to Tottenham. Lingard would reportedly prefer to move abroad ahead of next season.

- Arsenal have joined Everton and Wolves in the race to sign Rafael Leao from Milan, according to La Repubblica. The 22-year-old is enjoying his best campaign to date at San Siro, having registered double figures for goals.

- Italian outlet Tuttosport suggests that Juventus are pushing ahead with plans to sign Nicolo Zaniolo from Serie A rivals Roma, who are supposedly prepared to accept an offer in the region of €40million for a player with two years to run on his deal.

- Leeds United's in-demand winger Raphinha is holding off talks over a new contract at Elland Road, suggests GOAL. The Brazil international has previously been touted as a target for Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain.

Cristiano Ronaldo ended a run of six matches without scoring in Tuesday's win over Brighton and Hove Albion, but the Manchester United forward's future remains uncertain.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner's second spell at Old Trafford has not gone quite to plan and a number of European clubs are said to be circling should he depart.

If reports are accurate, it may well be that a reunion with former boss Jose Mourinho is on the cards for Ronaldo in the coming months.


TOP STORY – ROMA IN FOR RONALDO

Roma are one of three clubs currently in the running to sign Ronaldo should he depart United in the next transfer window, according to The Sun.

Giallorossi boss Mourinho previously managed Ronaldo at Real Madrid and is eager to bolster his squad with a superstar signing.

However, it is not known if the 37-year-old would welcome a return to Serie A, where he previously spent three seasons playing for Juventus ahead of rejoining United.

European heavyweights Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain are reported to be the other two sides to have expressed an interest in Ronaldo.


ROUND-UP

- Fabrizio Romano claims Chelsea are now solely focused on signing Jules Kounde from Sevilla after being told that top defensive target Marquinhos will not be sold by PSG.

- According to The Sun, Armando Broja's form on loan with Southampton has seen the Chelsea youngster's name added to Bayern and Borussia Dortmund's list of targets.

- Manchester City have bid £5.5million (€6.5m) for Atletico Mineiro's teenage winger Savio, suggests The Guardian, with the intention of then loaning him out to PSV.

- Juan Mata will depart United as a free agent at the end of the campaign, claims Nicolo Schira. The midfielder may look to see out his career in his Spanish homeland.

- Ralf Rangnick is eager for United to bring in Christopher Nkunku from RB Leipzig, according to ESPN. Madrid, Liverpool, Man City and Arsenal have also been linked.

Barcelona have been working to overcome their financial challenges over the past 12 months.

The Blaugrana have been plotting a way forward with their playing squad.

Barca landed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on a free transfer in January, as well as a loan move for Adama Traore.

TOP STORY – BARCELONA TARGET DE VRIJ

Barcelona are keen on Inter's Dutch defender Stefan de Vrij, reports Fichajes.

De Vrij is contracted with the Nerazzurri until the end of the 2022-23 season, but Barca may view him as Gerard Pique's successor.

Inter are reportedly open to interest from other parties, if the price is right, with the 30-year-old heading towards the final year of his present deal.

ROUND-UP

- The Daily Mail claims Paris Saint-Germain are putting together a lucrative deal to lure Paul Pogba to the club from Manchester United as a free agent. Pogba also has interest from Real Madrid and Barcelona, while he may still stay at Old Trafford.

- Newcastle United's efforts to sign Sevilla defender Diego Carlos will continue in the off-season after missing out in January, reports Marca.

- RB Leipzig forward Christopher Nkunku has been added to Manchester United's list of off-season targets, claims ESPN.

- Crystal Palace and Watford are both keen on Liverpool veteran James Milner, according to Fichajes.

When the Champions League last-16 draw took place in December, Paris Saint-Germain versus Manchester United looked set to be the headline fixture.

However, a technical fault resulted in a re-draw, dashing hopes – at least at this stage – of seeing Lionel Messi take on Cristiano Ronaldo.

Instead, we get to take in Messi vs Real Madrid. All in all, it's not a bad trade-off.

There are plenty of side stories to assess heading into Tuesday's first leg in Paris. Will Neymar be back fit in time? What will Sergio Ramos think if he has to sit out the game injured? How about Kylian Mbappe going up against the side for whom he seems destined to sign at the end of the season?

Messi, though, is used to making headlines against Madrid, of course, and the Barcelona great will surely be relishing the chance to renew these particular hostilities.

Clasico rivalry reignited 

It would be fair to say Messi has had something of a stuttering start to his PSG career, with the fearsome trio of the 34-year-old, Mbappe and Neymar having not quite clicked into full gear – indeed, the latter has missed a good chunk of the season through injury while Messi has had spells out and has also contracted COVID-19.

Messi netted 38 goals and contributed 12 assists in 47 games in his final season at Barcelona, striking every 110 minutes on average.

So far at PSG, he has only scored two Ligue 1 goals (one every 536 minutes), while his shot conversion rate is a measly 3.9 per cent from 51 attempts in total. His other five strikes have all come in the Champions League, at a rate of one every 90 minutes.

The Argentina star has provided seven assists from 44 chances created in the French top flight, with his creativity still evident even if he is playing in a slightly different role to that which he fulfilled in his final seasons at Barca.

But, what of Messi's record against Madrid?

He scored 672 goals in 778 matches across all competitions for the Blaugrana, and 26 (roughly four per cent) of those came in Clasicos. Of his 266 assists, 13 were provided against Madrid.

In total, Messi has played 45 times against Los Blancos, accumulating 3,940 minutes, directly contributing to a goal every 101 minutes.

Messi has celebrated victory on 19 occasions, tasted defeat 15 times and scored two hat-tricks. However, he failed to find the net in any of his final five Clasico appearances.

Magic moments

One of Messi's hat-tricks came in a thrilling Clasico in March 2014. With their title hopes on the line, Barca came from behind twice before finally prevailing 4-3 at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Messi, then 26, assisted Andres Iniesta's opener before scoring once from open play and twice from the penalty spot (indeed, Messi has converted all six of the penalties he has taken against Los Blancos) after Karim Benzema and Ronaldo had netted for Madrid.

His first hat-trick came in 2006-07 when, at the age of 19, he salvaged a 3-3 draw with an injury-time equaliser.

Other highlights include a stunning free-kick in the 2012 Supercopa de Espana, though it was ultimately fruitless as Madrid went on to claim victory. Later that year, Messi scored twice in a 2-2 draw, dispatching another wonderful free-kick, with Ronaldo grabbing both of Madrid's goals as that rivalry headed into its peak years.

In 2008-09, Messi scored twice and set up another in a 6-2 rout of Madrid, one of Pep Guardiola's finest moments as his Barca side stormed to six trophies in a year, while in 2010-11, Messi directly contributed to all five of the Blaugrana's goals across two legs in a Supercopa triumph.

He scored a supreme solo goal in a 2-0 Champions League victory in April 2011, with Barca going on to win the trophy that season and six years later, Messi netted twice in a 3-2 victory in LaLiga.

His second, a dramatic winner with the final kick of the game, was his 500th Barca goal and resulted in one of the most famous celebrations of all time, with Messi holding up his shirt to taunt Madrid's fans.

While the 2021-22 vintage of Messi has not yet hit – and indeed is unlikely ever to hit – the same heights of his Barca prime, Tuesday's fixture is another chance for him to haunt Madrid

.

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