Liverpool defender Andy Robertson has jokingly admitted that he is hopeful Lionel Messi will miss out on a move to the Premier League this summer.
The 33-year-old talisman shocked the football world after informing Barcelona that he wanted to leave this summer, and has been heavily linked with a sensational move to title contenders Manchester City.
And amid the ongoing and unsavoury civil war between Messi and his club, Robertson is keen for the superstar to remain with the LaLiga giants.
City are likely to once again push Liverpool to regain the Premier League trophy next season, and would undoubtedly be handed an unprecedented boost should they be successful in luring Messi to England.
Robertson has endured two games defending against Messi before, and conceded that they had been some of the most difficult encounters of his career.
The 26-year-old full back is unsurprisingly keen to avoid a third in the top flight in the near future, saying: ‘I think Liverpool have ruled out that we could sign him so I don’t want him anywhere near the Premier League and hopefully it stays that way.
‘I’ve played against him twice and it’s the hardest games I’ve ever played.’
Messi netted twice in Barcelona’s 3-0 win in the Champions League semi-final first leg tie in 2018, but Liverpool memorably stunned their opponents in the return leg on a magical night at Anfield to reach the final.
His bombshell transfer request came last week following Barcelona’s humiliating Champions League exit.
The manner of their humbling at the hands of Bayern Munich may have pushed the mercurial forward to his decision, coupled with the team’s failure to retain their LaLiga crown.
His representatives have claimed that the player will be able to leave on a free transfer over the coming weeks, citing a clause in his contract that allows him to walk away at the end of the campaign.
Barcelona have refuted this, however, and their steadfast refusal to allow Messi to depart for nothing has also been supported by the league. It appears that the only exit route for him would be a club triggering his release clause, which stands at an eye-watering £630million.
The Catalonia giants appealed to Messi’s father and agent, Jorge, to persuade his son to reconsider his stance in a 90-minute showdown meeting with president Josep Bartomeu on Wednesday night.
Despite neither side being willing to back down, it has now been claimed that Messi is re-considering his options. Media in Argentina have suggested the icon is now ’90 per cent likely to stay’ at the club for one final season.