Barcelona star Lionel Messi has branded speculation linking him with moves to Inter and Newell's Old Boys as "fake news".

Reports in Argentina, Spain and Italy in recent days have suggested Inter could launch an audacious bid to sign the six-time Ballon d'Or winner, with Barca said to be keen to speak with the Nerazzurri about striker Lautaro Martinez.

TNT in Messi's homeland even suggested discussions had already begun over a series of transfers that would see Martinez move to Camp Nou and Messi head to Inter along with rising Velez Sarsfield star Thiago Almada.

However, Messi has made it clear there is no truth to the rumours, publishing a screenshot of the claim on his official Instagram page and labelling it "fake news".

He described the report of the Inter deal as "lie 1" and wrote "lie 2" over a further claim that bail for former team-mate Ronaldinho, who is being held in Paraguay over allegedly entering the country with a fake passport, was paid from a Barcelona-based bank account that could have been used by Messi.

Messi added: "What they said in this same publication about Newell's a few weeks ago was also false. At least nobody believes them..."

Messi's future remains unclear as he has the option to unilaterally terminate his Barca contract at the end of the season.

The 32-year-old has been at loggerheads with some of Barca's board this term, adding to speculation he could decide to walk away.

Messi called out first-team technical secretary Eric Abidal for suggesting some players downed tools during Ernesto Valverde's final weeks in charge, while he then accused figures within the club of trying to place the players under undue public scrutiny while they negotiated a voluntary 70 per cent pay cut during the coronavirus crisis.

Manchester City are another club to have been linked with the Argentina star, who has always stressed he feels at home at Barca, where he has spent his whole senior career.

Neymar is Lionel Messi's "natural replacement" and would love to return to Barcelona, according to Brazil World Cup winner Mazinho.

Brazil superstar Neymar departed Camp Nou for a world-record move to Paris Saint-Germain ahead of the 2017-18 season but has consistently been linked with a move back to Barca.

Despite regular speculation ahead of the 2019-20 campaign, Neymar remained in the French capital and has scored 18 goals in 22 appearances across all competitions this term.

Neymar is once again being tipped to join Barca, though it was said at the time he left the club in part to try and escape the shadow of superstar team-mate and now six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi.

But Mazinho feels the 28-year-old is ready to come back and is capable of taking on Messi's mantle as Barca's talisman.

Speaking to Radio Marca, he said: "[Barcelona] would be delighted if he can return tomorrow.

"He is Messi's natural replacement. There is no other to replace Messi."

Mazinho's son Thiago Alcantara is part of a Bayern Munich side who returned to training this week amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Bundesliga champions trained in small groups without contact and Mazinho, who was part of the 1994 World Cup-winning Brazil team, said he trusts the club have taken appropriate measures.

"[Playing football amid the coronavirus outbreak] is worrying because it is a complicated situation that we are all experiencing," he added.

"In Germany they are progressing in that sense, with group training.

"You have to be very careful with all this. If Bayern do it, they do it because there is no risk and they are providing security to all their footballers.

"My son must work and be as prudent as possible."

Despite an incredible comeback against Liverpool to book their place in the Champions League quarter-finals, 2019-20 was looking like far from a vintage season for Atletico Madrid.

Diego Simeone's side sat sixth in LaLiga when the coronavirus pandemic forced the suspension of most sport around the world and had suffered a humiliating Copa del Rey exit to third-tier Cultural Leonesa in January.

However, six years ago they took a significant step in one of the most memorable campaigns in their history.

We look back at that and other standout sporting moments that occurred on April 9 through the years.

 

1912 – A Fenway first

It may not quite have been finished yet, but Fenway Park opened its doors for the first time for an exhibition match between the Boston Red Sox and the Harvard Crimson. After being forced to change at the nearby Park Riding School due to the clubhouse not being open yet, the players trudged through the snowy conditions to the diamond for the start of a new era. Casey Hageman threw Fenway Park's first pitch for the Red Sox to Harvard batter Dana Joseph Paine Wingate and he soon had the first of nine strikeouts.

1989 – Faldo in green

After heading into moving day in a tie for the lead, Faldo's hopes of triumphing at Augusta National and winning a second major appeared to be over when he slipped five shots off the pace upon completing his third round on Sunday morning. However, he ended up with the clubhouse lead later in the day by carding a brilliant seven-under 65 and a missed five-foot par putt on the 17th for Scott Hoch meant the two went into a play-off. Hoch's putting again let him down as he failed to close out the first sudden-death hole from two feet, and Faldo punished him by rolling in a 25-foot birdie putt at the next to don the green jacket for the first time. He would go on to win the tournament twice more.

1995 – Tendulkar shows signs of greatness to come

At the age of 21, the man who would go on to be dubbed the 'Little Master' scored his fourth ODI century as India defeated Sri Lanka in an Asia Cup match in Sharjah. Thanks to Tendulkar's outstanding 112 not out, India chased down their victory target of 203 with just under 17 of their 50 overs remaining. Tendulkar consequently became the youngest player to reach 3,000 ODI runs.

2013 – Dortmund deliver incredible comeback

There is something special about Champions League nights at Signal Iduna Park and the second leg of Dortmund's quarter-final against Malaga delivered a thoroughly memorable game. After a 0-0 draw in the first leg at La Rosaleda, Joaquin put Malaga ahead in the 25th minute, but Robert Lewandowski ensured Jurgen Klopp's side went into half-time on level terms. The writing appeared to be on the wall for Dortmund when Eliseu tapped in a second away goal from close range with eight minutes remaining, leaving the hosts needing to score twice more to avoid elimination. Marco Reus pulled them level in the first added minute and Felipe Santana bundled home in the 93rd minute to complete an incredible turnaround – though he appeared to be offside when he turned Julian Schieber's goal-bound effort home.

2014 – Atletico back in the semi-finals

Simeone led Atletico to Europa League glory in his first season at the helm and added the Copa del Rey and UEFA Super Cup in 2012-13. They appeared to be destined for new heights when they claimed a 1-0 victory over Barcelona at the Vicente Calderon to seal a 2-1 aggregate victory and book their place in the Champions League semi-finals for the first time since 1974. Koke's back-post volley kept Atletico's hopes of a Champions League and LaLiga double alive, but they were only able to win the latter after Real Madrid beat them in the European final in Lisbon.

Could Lionel Messi swap Barcelona for Inter?

Messi has been linked to Inter since ex-president Massimo Moratti said the six-time Ballon d'Or winner joining the Serie A club was not a "forbidden dream".

The 32-year-old's future at Camp Nou has made headlines throughout the 2019-20 season.

 

TOP STORY – INTER WANT MESSI

Inter are seriously working on trying to sign Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi, according to TNT Sports.

Former Inter president Massimo Moratti said the Nerazzurri luring Messi – contracted until 2021 – to San Siro was not impossible and speculation has intensified since those comments.

TNT Sports says Inter are ready to push through negotiations for the six-time Ballon d'Or winner, while boyhood club Newell's Old Boys have also made an offer.

 

ROUND-UP

- AS Diario claims Manchester United and Juventus are both chasing Real Madrid outcast James Rodriguez. Napoli and Everton have also been linked to the Colombia international.

Philippe Coutinho is close to returning to the Premier League. Sport reports the former Liverpool star is nearing a loan switch to Chelsea from Barcelona. The Brazilian has spent the 2019-20 season on loan at Bayern Munich.

Milan are interested in signing in-demand Brescia star Sandro Tonali, according to Calciomercato. The Italian has been linked to the likes of Juve, Inter and United.

- Juve star Paulo Dybala is set to sign a new contract with the Serie A champions, says Calciomercato. Meanwhile, the same outlet reports that Juve are interested in Roma midfielder Bryan Cristante.

- Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane is chasing Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga, says AS Diario. The Frenchman wants to sign the 17-year-old if Madrid are unable to lure Paul Pogba from United.

- Mundo Deportivo reports Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham are among the clubs battling for Achraf Hakimi. The Moroccan full-back has spent the past two seasons on loan at Borussia Dortmund from Madrid. Juve, Bayern and Paris Saint-Germain are also reportedly interested.

Former Inter midfielder Benoit Cauet insisted the Nerazzurri can sign Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi.

Messi has been linked to Inter since ex-president Massimo Moratti said the six-time Ballon d'Or winner joining the Serie A club was not a "forbidden dream".

Barca captain Messi is contracted to the LaLiga champions until 2021 but his future is far from certain at Camp Nou, where he has clashed with board members this season.

"Of course Inter can sign Lionel Messi, there are no doubts that they could," Cauet, who won the UEFA Super Cup with Inter in 1997-98, said in an Instagram Live interview.

"President Steven Zhang has the financial capabilities and the potential ambition. He is a president who thinks big."

Messi – who moved to Barca from boyhood club Newell's Old Boys in 2001 – had scored 24 goals across all competitions before the 2019-20 season was postponed due to coronavirus.

The 32-year-old attacker tops the LaLiga scoring charts with 19 goals through 27 rounds.

Luis Suarez views Barcelona's reported interest in fellow forwards Neymar and Lautaro Martinez as an encouraging sign.

Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar continues to be linked with a return to Camp Nou having won two LaLiga titles and a Champions League playing alongside Suarez during his previous stint at the club.

He is not the only striker reportedly on Barca's radar, though, with Inter's Martinez another attacker thought to be considered an intriguing prospect to the Blaugrana hierarchy.

Rather than see such speculation as a threat to his place in the team, Suarez has given his approval to those pursuits.

"It is difficult to talk about players today," he told Mundo Deportivo. 

"As is the situation in the world today, talking about who can come because of how everything is complicated. But I can speak about what these players are like and they are huge players. 

"Obviously, Ney, everyone knows him and we know the appreciation that we have for him in the dressing room, which as a player is indisputable because he still has a lot to give and in the dressing room he would always be welcome because of the affection he has. 

"Lautaro is a player who has been growing a lot in Italy, he is a 'nine' who has movements that are spectacular and that reflects how great a striker he is. 

"It is not that you feel compatible but that you feel happy that the club wants to incorporate players who come to help and fulfil the same objective of everyone - that of wanting to win everything. 

"Then when it comes to healthy competition in the team, which there will always, we will always be on the same side. 

"So players who come to fight for a place and help the team will always be welcome, it will always be better and it will strengthen the group."

Cristiano Ronaldo has been linked with a stunning return to Real Madrid, but it seems that is just about impossible.

The Juventus star only left the Santiago Bernabeu in 2018, yet recent reports linked him with a Madrid return.

However, it appears that is unlikely.

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID RETURN FOR RONALDO RULED OUT

Real Madrid are not thinking about bringing Ronaldo back, according to both Marca and Sport.

It has been reported that Juve would consider selling Ronaldo for €60million, which is €40m less than what they paid in July 2018.

Ronaldo had scored 25 goals in 32 games this season before it was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

ROUND-UP

- Neymar continues to be linked with a return to Barcelona. Sport reports Paris Saint-Germain would be willing to accept payment in instalments from Barcelona, something that proved to be an issue last close season.

- Paul Pogba looks set to leave Manchester United for either Juventus or Real Madrid. AS reports the France midfielder will prioritise an offer from the LaLiga giants.

- On loan at PSG from Inter, Mauro Icardi's future is uncertain. Sport reports PSG have decided they will use their purchase option of €70m to land the forward permanently.

- It seems Barcelona know what they want for Philippe Coutinho. The LaLiga giants have set their price for the attacker, who is on loan at Bayern Munich, at €90m, according to Sport.

- David Silva will leave Manchester City at the end of the season and where he ends up remains to be seen. CalcioMercato reports AC Milan met the playmaker's agents over a possible move.

- It is shaping as a busy close season at Barcelona. Sport reports PSG left-back Layvin Kurzawa, out of contract at campaign's end, wants a move to Barcelona. Meanwhile, AS reports Barca are also eyeing Real Madrid's 19-year-old midfielder Cesar Gelabert.

Barcelona star Lionel Messi is "a global example" when it comes to the debate over footballers and pay cuts during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a sports psychologist.

Messi issued a statement on behalf of the Barca first team on March 30 to confirm that the players had agreed to a 70 per cent reduction in wages to help to ease the financial burden on the club while football is largely at a standstill.

The players are also making further financial contributions to ensure Barca's non-playing employees can take home their full wages while LaLiga remains suspended during Spain's nationwide lockdown.

Atletico Madrid announced last week that their players would be taking a similar pay reduction.

The decisions from two of Spain's top clubs encouraged debate over the practices of the Premier League elite, whose players are yet to announce any definitive agreement on wage reductions or financial contributions towards frontline health systems.

Tom Bates believes Messi and Barca's example will help to encourage other clubs to follow suit while the COVID-19 crisis persists.

"The players that I have spoken with from the Premier League all the way through, they have different perspectives, naturally," he told Stats Perform.

"One of the things that the guys have said is, 'Well, actually at our club we are quite a wealthy club, so we could probably afford to keep our staff paid, but other clubs in different leagues won't be able to do that'. Others feel like taking a pay cut to keep their staff on board is absolutely fine.

"The classic case is Leo Messi, who started this and was one of the first players to take a 70 per cent pay cut in order to make sure the staff at Barcelona were able to carry on working, and I think that really is a global example to everybody when you're talking about that level in money in wages, and that type of athlete.

"I am very privileged: I have met Leo Messi and [Pep] Guardiola over there in Barcelona together as a team, and it doesn't surprise me that they are leading the way with this.

"If there was going to be a global example of a player out there doing something for the greater good of their club – and he embodies that for me – so, in my professional opinion, if you can afford that and if you're able to support by taking a pay cut, then clearly those who need it the most are going to benefit."

Bates also praised the influence of former Manchester United and England captain Wayne Rooney in encouraging conversations around mental health.

Writing for The Times, Derby County star Rooney outlined how the suspension of the football calendar could have implications for the mental wellbeing of players who have seen their routine grind to a halt.

"Wayne is in many ways an ambassador, he is a cultural leader for the game, especially because what he has achieved at international level, and certainly to be continuing his career even now and still performing at a very high level encourages others to do the same," Bates said.

"When you have somebody like Wayne come and be very open and very honest about mental health on a global level within the game, that can only be a good thing because it encourages others to have conversations, to open up conversations and be courageous enough to talk about their own mental health, and of course talking about it is the first step to improving it."

Lionel Messi leaving Barcelona for Inter "would not be a drama" for LaLiga nor would he immediately solve Serie A's problems, according to Javier Tebas.

The idea of Messi departing Camp Nou has often appeared fanciful but clashes between the Argentina great and Barca's board this season have made it seem a much more plausible scenario.

Former Inter president Massimo Moratti said this week that a potential Nerazzurri swoop for Messi is not a "forbidden dream at all".

Messi leaving would be seen by most as a blow to LaLiga as well as Barca, given his standing as one of the greatest players of all time.

But LaLiga chief Tebas says the league will always be strong, pointing to Cristiano Ronaldo's switch from Real Madrid to Juventus as proof, while he claimed Italian football would not be fixed purely by Messi's arrival.

"I do not think that the arrival of Messi can solve the problems of Serie A, which are linked to the bad relationship between debts, high and insufficient collections," Tebas said on a video conference with reporters.

"Serie A's figures are stressed, and these economic problems certainly are not solved by Leo Messi. 

"I would like Messi to stay here, but if he leaves it would not be a drama.

"It was said that without Cristiano Ronaldo the league would have lost money, and instead we would have earned it, even in Portugal. Players help but are not essential to a championship. "

Philippe Coutinho's transfer from Liverpool to Barcelona was "difficult" but "fair" for the player, says Reds boss Jurgen Klopp.

Brazil midfielder Coutinho swapped Anfield for Camp Nou in January 2018 in a deal reportedly worth over £100million after protracted negotiations.

Klopp explained how Liverpool had initially held firm against a sale due to an injury to Adam Lallana, but relented at a time when the move made sense for all parties.

"I really respected Phil's switch from the first second," he told the Pure Football Podcast.

"Not that I do that all the time but it felt 'oh wow that could be difficult'.

"So it's not about yes we signed a new contract so many weeks before that but it was really clear he would not have asked me for any other club but for this club, there was no chance.

"Then we had to be hard in the summer because we had no other solution. We lost Adam Lallana in that time as well, we would have lost two players.

"That's not possible, you cannot solve that on the transfer market.

"He was open to that [staying] and that was really cool. Then you have to be fair in the window and say we can do it, we don't like it but we can do it."

Coutinho struggled to adjust at Barca and was shipped out on loan to Bayern Munich for the 2019-2020 season, which is suspended as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Bayern are not thought to be keen on making the move permanent, but Barca appear certain to sanction a sale elsewhere if they can recoup a large sum of the outlay they stumped up to Liverpool.

The Reds had been linked with a move themselves, although reports say they will not be in the market for their former midfielder, and Klopp wants the best for Coutinho wherever he ends up.

"Phil was our boy for a long time," he added. "We respect him a lot and wish him all the best.

"That's how football should be. That's the most important thing the club showed in that moment."

Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi joining Inter is not a "forbidden dream at all", according to former president Massimo Moratti.

Messi is contracted to Barca until 2021 but the six-time Ballons d'Or winner's future is far from certain at Camp Nou, where he has clashed with board members this season.

The Barca captain has been linked to Serie A outfit Inter previously and Moratti believes that luring Messi to Milan is not an impossible goal.

"I don't think it's a forbidden dream at all. Maybe it wasn't even before this misfortune," he told Radio Rai.

"Messi is at the end of his contract and it would certainly be attempted to bring him home.

"I don't know if this situation will change anything, but I think we will see strange things at the end of the year."

Inter star Lautaro Martinez has been tipped to move to Barca at the end of the season – the Argentina international seen as a long-term replacement for veteran forward Luis Suarez.

Moratti, who was Inter president between 1995 and 2013, suggested Martinez could be used in an exchange deal for countryman Messi.

"He [Martinez] is a very good lad, he cares about his career," Moratti said. "But, as I said before, we have to see if it's part of an operation for bigger players like Messi."

Radomir Antic, famed for coaching Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona, has died aged 71.

The Serbian, whose managerial career spanned 27 years, died on Monday and his passing has drawn an outpouring of emotion across Spanish football, where his influence was greatest.

It was at Atletico Madrid where Antic enjoyed his finest achievements, including an historic LaLiga and Copa del Rey double in the 1995-96 campaign.

Atletico CEO Miguel Angel Gil, who worked closely with Antic across his three spells in charge, said: "With the loss of Radomir, we lost a bit of the club's heart.

"With him I personally learned to win, with him I learned to live with passion - the things that they make you better as a man and as a professional.

"I give very strong embrace to his wife Vera, Dusan and Ana and tell them that they should be proud of the husband and father they had because, in addition to being a great professional and a wonderful person, he is in the history of Atletico Madrid on its own merits."

President Enrique Cerezo added: "Today is a sad day for all athletes and for the world of football since Radomir Antic has left us. A great person and one of the architects of the magnificent golden age that Atletico Madrid lived has left.

"The league and Copa del Rey titles that we won under his orders will remain forever in our memory. I am very proud to have met him and it has been a privilege to have shared every moment of football with him. All my love for his family."

While Antic's impact in Spanish football may have been greatest at Atletico, he had previously played and coached at Real Zaragoza, before also managing Real Madrid and Real Oviedo.

He spent a trio of spells with Atletico between 1995 and 2000, including a three-year stint until 1998, enjoying the great highs and significant lows, as they suffered relegation in the 1999-00 campaign.

Antic returned to Oviedo next, getting relegated again, but landed on his feet after a period away from management – joining Barcelona in 2003 to replace Louis van Gaal.

Although it was a relatively successful period at Camp Nou, he was replaced amid a presidential change at the club.

He went on to coach Celta Vigo, his native Serbia, Shandong Luneng and, most recently, Hebei China Fortune in 2015.

With most of the world still operating under lockdown conditions amid the coronavirus pandemic, most professional sport is on hold for the foreseeable future.

Given the outbreak occurred at a particularly inopportune moment for top-level football in Europe, the situation has bred uncertainty across most leagues – including Spain's LaLiga.

Competitions in Europe are facing the question of whether finishing the season, regardless of the impact it may have on future campaigns, should be the priority once normality returns.

The current focus does appear to be on concluding the 2019-20 campaign. However, even with Euro 2020 pushed back by 12 months, clubs and leagues are still having to work to tight schedules, with UEFA hoping seasons finish by the end of June.

While the discussion over how to complete the schedule continues, the Stats Perform AI team have crunched the numbers behind the scenes.

With all of the division's teams having completed 27 of 38 matches, their goal was to simulate how the rest of the season would pan out if the games were played now to produce a predicted 2019-20 table.

The statistical model estimates the probability of each match outcome – either a win, draw or loss – based on each team's attacking and defensive quality.

Those ratings are allocated based on four years' worth of comprehensive historic data points and results, with more weighting given to recent matches to account for improvements or declines in form and performance trends.

The AI simulation takes into account the quality of the opposition that a team scores or concedes goals against and rewards them accordingly.

All that data is used to simulate upcoming matches using goal predictions from the Poisson distribution – a detailed mathematical model – with the two teams' attacking and defending ratings used as inputs.

The outcome of the season is then simulated on 10,000 different occasions in order to generate the most accurate possible percentage chance of each team finishing in their ultimate league position.

Without further ado, let's have a good look at the results of the simulation with the predicted final league table.

BARCELONA CROWNED CHAMPIONS WITH 83 POINTS

The results in the statistical model see Barcelona crowned champions with a final total of just 83 points.

With 11 games to play, they presently lead rivals Real Madrid by two points, a gap that is predicted to have increased to four by the conclusion of the campaign, giving Quique Setien a first league crown.

Such have been the struggles of the big two this season, the final tally would be the lowest points recorded by a team to win the LaLiga since Fabio Capello's Madrid.

That team defeated Barca by virtue of their superior head-to-head record in a dramatic finish to the 2006-07 campaign, when the two sides accumulated 76 points.

It also suggests the chasing pack missed a rare opportunity to strike on a down year for both Clasico rivals, which will frustrate 2014 champions Atletico Madrid, who spent big on Joao Felix.

REAL MADRID FALL FOUR POINTS SHORT

The likelihood of Barca winning the title is 70.1%, with Real Madrid's chances rated at 29.9%. No other team is in with a chance of topping the table, according to the model.

But Zinedine Zidane's men are unlikely to face a challenge for second place, meaning they at least improve on their third-place finish from the 2018-19 season.

That third spot is poised to be grabbed by Atletico, who have a projected final points total of 65 and a 41.6% chance of claiming the position.

Atletico's closest challengers for third are predicted to be Sevilla (who are given a 26.1% chance) and Getafe (16.8%), with just two points separating those three sides in the final reckoning.

Diego Simeone would be thrilled with third place given his side went into the coronavirus-enforced break down in sixth, with Real Sociedad (9.1%) and Valencia (5%) the other teams in the mix.

UCL HEARTBREAK FOR LA REAL & GETAFE AS SEVILLA CLINCH 4TH

Sociedad and Getafe go into the break dreaming of a Champions League place amid fine seasons, but they are the two teams who will be worst affected by Atletico's predicted surge.

As part of a thrilling finish in the race for the top four, they are set to suffer heartbreak as Atletico pass them and they fall agonisingly short of catching Sevilla, who went into the halt in action sitting third.

Sevilla are anticipated to finish with 64 points, just one behind Atletico and one ahead of Getafe. 

Sociedad are then a further two behind Getafe with 61 as they are forced to settle for sixth, with Valencia staying in seventh on 59.

The four teams scheduled to finish between fourth and seventh all have a greater than 10.7% chance of finishing fourth, with none greater than Sevilla's 28.5%, so one bounce of the ball in a key game could still make an enormous difference.

Villarreal are predicted to finish in their current position of eighth, though they are given a 1.3% probability of breaking the top four.

Athletic Bilbao pass Granada for ninth position as Real Betis and Levante narrowly miss out on a spot in the top half.

Osasuna drop from 11th to 13th, where they are predicted to finish one point above Deportivo Alaves.

ESPANYOL SUFFER THE DROP AFTER 26 YEARS IN TOP FLIGHT

Mallorca, Leganes and Espanyol are the current bottom three in LaLiga and all are forecast to suffer relegation.

Espanyol have been in the top flight since 1994 but they go into the break six points adrift of safety and the model predicts they will be unable to make a great escape.

They are forecasted to collect 13 points from their last 11 games, but that is not even enough to get them off the bottom of the standings, highlighting the scale of the task they have ahead of them.

Similarly, Mallorca (36 points) and Leganes (35) are not expected to pick up enough victories to secure survival.

That means Celta Vigo, presently just one point clear of the drop zone, are predicted to survive with a final tally of 40, giving them a four-point cushion.

Celta are credited with 14 points between now and the end of the season to finish just behind Eibar (15th) and Real Valladolid (16th).

That means they would avoid a return to the Segunda Division, which is where they started the last decade.

When Barcelona were in danger of losing to Arsenal in the 2009-10 Champions League quarter-finals, Lionel Messi – as he so often does – turned the game on its head.

Monday marks 10 years since Messi took that game against Arsenal by the scruff of the neck and produced one of the stand-out displays of his illustrious career.

The Argentina great has lifted the Champions League trophy on four occasions and is the second-highest scoring player in the competition's history, sitting 14 adrift of all-time leader Cristiano Ronaldo's haul of 128 goals.

We take a look back at some of Messi's greatest performances in the Champions League

 

April 6, 2010 – Barcelona 4-1 Arsenal (6-3 agg)

After they came back from two goals down to draw 2-2 in the first leg at Emirates Stadium, Nicklas Bendtner put Arsenal ahead for the first time in the tie after 19 minutes in the return game at Camp Nou.

Messi ensured it was Barcelona who progressed to the semi-finals, though.

He slammed a stunning finish past Manuel Almunia two minutes later and slotted home a pass from Pedro to double his tally.

A stunning chip over Almunia gave Messi his hat-trick before half-time, and he rounded off the 4-1 victory by grabbing a fourth at the second attempt after the Arsenal keeper stopped his initial effort at the end of a fine solo run.

 

April 27, 2011 – Real Madrid 0-2 Barcelona

A semi-final Clasico made for a mouth-watering prospect and, of course, Messi delivered on the grand stage.

No list of his greatest goals would be complete without his second against arch-rivals Madrid. A one-two with Sergio Busquets enabled him to race free of Lassana Diarra and he shifted through the gears to skip away from Sergio Ramos and Raul Albiol.

He then darted in front of Marcelo and slid the ball beyond Iker Casillas to silence the Santiago Bernabeu.

A 1-1 draw in the second leg sent Barca into the final to face Manchester United…

 

May 28, 2011 – Barcelona 3-1 Manchester United

In a repeat of the 2009 final, the outcome at Wembley proved the same.

Messi caused Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic problems from the off and, with the game locked at 1-1 after Wayne Rooney cancelled out Pedro's opener, he found the back of the nine minutes after half-time.

After dropping deep from his centre-forward position, he received a pass from Andres Iniesta and drove forward before unleashing a powerful effort into the bottom-right corner.

David Villa completed the scoring as Barca came out on top against Alex Ferguson's side again.

 

March 7, 2012 – Barcelona 7-1 Bayer Leverkusen

Leverkusen were on the receiving end of the greatest individual goalscoring display in Champions League history.

Messi became the first player to score five in a single game in Europe's premier club competition, enrapturing Camp Nou with a supreme performance in the second leg of this last-16 tie.

He got the ball rolling by scooping a long pass from Xavi beyond Bernd Leno, while his second came in trademark fashion – dribbling across the box from the right and firing a left-footed shot into the corner.

After a delightful chip to secure his hat-trick in the 49th minute, a stunning exchange of passes with Pedro preceded an error from Leno that Messi nipped in to punish.

A cool 18-yard finish left coach Pep Guardiola with an astonished look on his face. He had witnessed a performance for the ages.

 

May 6, 2015 – Barcelona 3-0 Bayern Munich

Guardiola returning to Camp Nou as Bayern boss was the big story ahead of kick-off, but Messi was the only subject of conversation after the final whistle.

It took 77 minutes for Messi to find the breakthrough, and his second three minutes later likely still gives Jerome Boateng nightmares.

He sent Germany international Boateng to the deck by turning inside and back out on the right side of the box. He then sent a wonderful dink over Manuel Neuer.

To cap things off Messi fed Neymar for a counter-attacking third in the 94th minute, and Barca went on to beat Juventus in the final and claim the trophy.

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