Barcelona icon Lionel Messi's future at Camp Nou is up in the air and he has been linked strongly with a move either to Manchester City or Paris Saint-Germain (PSG). Most recently, France Football racked up controversy after it published Messi's image donned in a PSG shirt on its magazine cover.
Barcelona were already annoyed with the unconventional attempts from the defending Ligue 1 champions and the magazine cover would further infuriate the club. But manager Mauricio Pochettino has instead preferred to hit out at Barcelona and Real Madrid for their previous transfer activities.
Messi sees off his Barcelona contract at the end of the current season. He is yet to agree to a new deal with the Camp Nou outfit. And Man City and PSG have emerged as the frontrunners to land the Argentina international next summer. Notably, Messi is free to enter into a pre-contract with any prospective club on a free transfer next summer.
Angel Di Maria responded in the affirmative when being quizzed about the raging transfer talks linking Lionel Messi to PSG. And his comments infuriated Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman, who asserted that Di Maria should respect the six-time Ballon d'Or winner. Former Barcelona superstar Neymar Jr had responded on similar lines as Di Maria in an earlier interview.
Things took a bitter turn when reputed publication France Football decided to print Messi on their magazine's front cover, donned in a PSG shirt. And Pochettino rubbished off any talks of the French giants' involvement behind Messi's picture on the front cover. Instead, the former Tottenham Hotspur manager aimed a sly dig at Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Pochettino reiterated that there is absolute respect for all the clubs and their players. No one should have the slightest doubt that the defending Ligue 1 champions were behind France Football's controversial cover. "When one player talks about another it is out of friendship and affection. At no moment have we done anything incorrect," said the PSG boss while interacting with the media.
He went on to slam Barcelona and Real Madrid, claiming that the football stars of the two clubs are allowed to talk about players from other clubs. This indeed was an indirect reference to Barcelona's failed attempts to re-sign Neymar Jr, following his world-record transfer in 2017. Similarly, several Real Madrid players have also spoken of their desire to play alongside Kylian Mbappe at the Bernabeu.