MADRID – PSV Eindhoven coach Mark van Bommel says his players can fight it out for Barcelona star Lionel Messi’s shirt if they win at the Nou Camp on Tuesday – but they had better not ask him for it at halftime.
Van Bommel wants the Dutch league leaders to stay professional as they begin the Champions League season facing the player he called the best in the world.
“If tomorrow we get a good result, I don’t care if they fight for Messi’s shirt,” Van Bommel told a news conference on Monday.
“That is part of being a professional, to always be concentrating. I know they will ask him for the shirt, but they shouldn’t do it at halftime.”
PSV winger Hirving Lozano may one day line up with the Argentine at Barcelona, having revealed the Catalan side were interested in signing him in the close season after he impressed for Mexico at the World Cup.
“My agents told me that Barca asked about me, and it would be a dream to play here in the future,” he said, “but now the important thing is focusing on PSV and enjoying it as much as possible.”
Despite Messi’s exalted status, Barcelona have won only one of the last five Champions Leagues.
“It’s hard to explain, I don’t understand it,” said midfielder Philippe Coutinho, who is looking forward to making his debut in the competition for the Catalan club after being cup-tied last season.
“It’s hard to watch the game from outside. I always want to play to help, but I couldn’t last season.”
Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said PSV, on paper no match for his side, deserved respect.
“I don’t think PSV are one of the softest opponents; I think they’re a good team that attacks well, plays together and has players that can unbalance you,” he said.
“Lozano is interesting.”