Lionel Messi is likely to be in Paris St-Germain’s squad to face Manchester City in the Champions League on Tuesday after recovering from a knee injury.
The Argentine, who played under City boss Pep Guardiola at Barcelona, is yet to score having featured in three games for his new club, missing their past two games through injury.
“He is in a very good way,” said PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino.
“I think he will be in the squad but I haven’t decided on the starting XI.”
Messi has scored more Champions League goals against Guardiola than any other player – six goals in four meetings, including four goals in two games for Barcelona against City.
“I think this kind of player speaks for itself, we’re fortunate to see him for 16 years as a pro,” said Guardiola. “What he’s done is more than exceptional and hopefully tomorrow he can play for the benefit of the game.”
PSG have the option of playing a front three of the two most expensive players ever, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, and Messi, who has won a record six Ballons d’Or.
“With this amount of quality I don’t know how to stop them,” said Guardiola.
“They’re so good. This amount of talent makes it so difficult.
“You have to defend well without the ball and let them run when we have the ball. They are exceptional players, individually and they combine so good.
“The three players up front can do whatever they want. Wide narrow, wide left, Messi can play right or middle, Mbappe wide or middle. They combine so well, the talent cannot be stopped.”
City beat PSG 4-1 on aggregate in last season’s semi-final, before losing to Chelsea in the final.
But since then PSG have signed Messi, who has scored 120 Champions League goals, Sergio Ramos, who has won the tournament four times, Euro 2020 player of the tournament Gianluigi Donnarumma and several other players.
Both PSG and City have enjoyed most of their success since big-money takeovers in the 2000s. Abu Dhabi United Group took over City in 2008, with Qatar Sports Investments running PSG since 2011.
Seven of PSG’s nine league titles, and five of City’s seven, have come since those takeovers. But the big goal – the Champions League – has evaded both sides, with both sides losing the last two finals.
“It’s a fact, not an opinion, that we are a team in construction,” said Pochettino, who lost the final in 2019 with Tottenham.
“City have been under the best coach in the world in my opinion, with Pep Guardiola.
“It’s a matter of time but also, let’s face it, of investment.”
Guardiola said: “What happened last season was last season, they were fantastic, it was tight and now they have Messi.
“Since Qatar took over they’ve been exceptional, huge competitors.”
City winger Riyad Mahrez agrees they cannot read too much into last season’s semi-final win, with the English side winning 2-1 away and then 2-0 at home.
“It is a different match,” he said.
“Last season was a semi-final with no fans. Today is six months later, beginning of the season and the group stage.
“It will be another tight game and we will have to be focused like we were last season. We don’t think that because we won last season we will win again.”
Both sides come into the game in good form. PSG are top of Ligue 1 with eight wins out of eight, while Manchester City beat title rivals Chelsea on Saturday.
However, PSG have not won in four Champions League games now after drawing with Club Bruges in their first group game.
City beat RB Leipzig 6-3 at home in their opener. They are unbeaten in their past 10 away games in the Champions League.
City’s Ilkay Gundogan will miss the game with a knock, but fellow midfielder Marco Verratti should be back for PSG after four games out with a knee problem.