Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe were both on target in Wednesday’s Champions League last-16 tie between Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona that saw the French champions progress 5-2 on aggregate.
Mbappe took to social media after the game with an enigmatic message. The World Cup winner posted a photo of a shared moment during the game with Messi.
The Frenchman also posted the same image on Instagam stories with the caption, “thanks football to give me this opportunity to live this dream every day.”
Mbappe’s post is open to interpretation and could well be a simple case of the striker showing his respect and admiration for Messi. Yet it’s perhaps worth noting his post also comes amid speculation PSG will try to sign Messi in the summer when his contract expires.
The Barcelona captain was due to meet with PSG but canceled the meeting because he wants to hear from new club president Joan Laporta first, according to Carrusel Deportivo.
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Messi Hits 120 UCL Goals
Mbappe’s goal against Barcelona came from the penalty spot after Clement Lenglet was adjudged to have fouled Mauro Icardi, while Messi’s was a far more spectacular effort.
The Argentine let fly from range with a thunderbolt of a strike that flew past goalkeeper Keylor Navas and nestled into the top corner. Navas ended the game as the man-of-the-match but could do nothing about Messi’s strike.
The goal brought up another landmark for Messi as he hit 120 in the Champions League.
Messi should have scored his 121st Champions League goal too. The captain missed from the penalty spot after Antoine Griezmann had been fouled in first-half stoppage time.
Meanwhile, Mbappe’s goal also brought up a landmark. The PSG striker’s effort against Barcelona saw him beat Messi to become the youngest player to reach 25 goals in the Champions League, according to Opta.
Praise for ‘Absolute Genius’ Messi
Barcelona and Messi now bow out of the Champions League with Wednesday’s result, but there was still plenty of praise for the captain after another influential performance for the Catalan giants.
Former Real Madrid and Englan coach Fabio Capello told Sky Sport that the 33-year-old simply possesses something no other player in the world has, as reported by Mundo Deportivo.
“Messi has something more than the others, he is an absolute genius. The others will win the Ballon d’Or, as Cristiano Ronaldo has won, but Leo is the genius because he does things with quality and speed that are unthinkable for others,” he said. “He uses his feet like others use their hands. Tonight I have seen a great Messi and a beautiful Barcelona. Messi is a footballer with something different. He showed once again that he has something more than the others.”
Yet Messi still went home filled with disappointment, according to Toni Juanmarti at Diario Sport. The captain was “still thinking about his penalty” after the final whistle which he realized had a big impact on the match.