Messi desperate for Cesc arrival

Barca have tracked the Catalan midfielder for several seasons and

had two big-money bids for their former youth team player turned

down by the Gunners last summer. But Messi, who lost out to

Fabregas and his Arsenal team-mates in the first leg of their

Champions League tie on Wednesday night, believes his friend will

soon be a Barca player. “Let’s hope so,” he told Sport in an

interview. “In the end he will do what he wants and what the people

at Barca want. It doesn’t depend on us, but I think his inclination

is to be at Barcelona because there is nowhere he will be better

off than here.” Barca lost 2-1 in London, despite going ahead and

completely dominating the first half against the Gunners. Messi

believes Fabregas played a big part in the Arsenal revival that

night and claims he is the key player in Arsene Wenger’s side.

“It’s clear he is vital for them,” he said. “Their play depends so

much on him; they are constantly giving him the ball – he is a very

important player for them.” In the meantime, Fabregas will be back

in Barcelona next month as Arsenal look to produce a shock and

knock out Pep Guardiola’s side in the last 16 of the Champions

League. Messi, though, is confident his side will prevail at the

Nou Camp on March 8. “It hurt to lose (on Wednesday) because we

didn’t deserve to,” he said. “In the first half we played really

well for a lot of the time, moving the ball around quickly – it’s a

shame we didn’t win. “But we are relaxed because we know we can

turn this around – we only have to overcome a one-goal deficit.”

Barca and Arsenal met in the quarter-finals of last season’s

Champions League, when Messi struck all four goals in a 4-1 win at

the Nou Camp following a 2-2 draw in London. “It doesn’t matter how

we do it (this time),” he said. “Whether it’s with my goals or not,

the most important thing is to go through. “We have to play in the

same way and if we play like we did in the first half (at the

Emirates), we will have a great chance of going through.” Messi,

surprisingly, has never scored against an English side away from

home and the Argentina forward missed a great chance on Wednesday

night, when he clipped the ball just wide with only Arsenal keeper

Wojciech Szczesny to beat. “It was such a clear opportunity; the

keeper waited right until the end, I lifted the ball over him and

sent it wide – it was a shame,” said Messi. After his stunning

four-goal show last season, Wenger described Messi as a

‘Playstation’. “It makes me really happy to hear such important

football people speaking kindly of you,” the 23-year-old said.

“Let’s hope I can produce another great match and that we can go

through.”