Barcelona travel to Stamford Bridge to take on Chelsea in their last-16 Champions League tie on Tuesday night, and Lionel Messi is keen for one key decision to be made.
Naturally, the Catalan giants will hope to return to the Nou Camp with a positive result and take charge of the tie, and Ernesto Valverde will need to get his team selection right in order for that to happen.
According to Diario Gol, as re-reported by The Express, Messi believes that starting Ousmane Dembele against Chelsea would be a mistake, and is in turn advising his coach not to select him in the line-up.
It’s suggested that there is ultimately just one spot to fill in Valverde’s XI, as the rest of the team picks itself given that Barcelona are at full strength.
However, it’s not positive for Dembele if the above is to be believed, as it’s expected that either Paulinho or Andre Gomes will drop into midfield to leave Messi and Luis Suarez playing up top.
There’s no denying that it’s been a difficult first season for the 20-year-old at Barcelona, as he’s been limited to just nine appearances in all competitions due to injury.
With the expectations that would have come with his move, which could be worth £135.5m in total, as per BBC Sport, the pressure would have been on anyway and it will be hugely frustrating for the Frenchman and the club not to see him in top form and making an instant impact having made such a big investment.
Speculation suggesting that Messi doesn’t want him starting in one of the biggest games of the season so far isn’t exactly going to do wonders for his confidence either, and so it remains to be seen whether or not it has a bearing on the final decision with not long to go until we discover what Valverde’s starting line-up will be.