Barcelona, April 9
Barcelona’s Lionel Messi is set to play his 45th — and possibly final — “Clasico” match against Real Madrid.
The star status of Messi, whose contract expires this summer, has been built on numerous titles and scoring records, as well as his exploits in the Clasico matches against Real Madrid. But not even Real coach Zinedine Zidane wants Saturday to be Messi’s last chance to torment Madrid. “I don’t want this to be the last Clasico for Messi,” Zidane said on Friday. “Hopefully he stays at Barcelona. He’s good there and it’s also good for the Spanish league. We know how good a player he is.”
Messi, who turns 34 in June, was frustrated in his attempt to leave Barcelona last summer. He said in December that he will decide his future when his season is over and he can walk away for free if he wants. Since then, Joan Laporta has returned to power as the club’s president with the goal of convincing Messi to sign another contract, but the player remains silent. —AP/PTI