Australian midfielder Jackson Irvine has spoken highly about Lionel Messi after going face-to-face with him at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Argentina defeated Australia 2-1 in a Round of 16 fixture on December 4 in Qatar last year. Julian Alvarez and Messi gave the South Americans a 2-0 lead before an own goal by Enzo Fernandez reduced the deficit.

Irvine looked back at the match with fond memories, not because of the scoreline or the occasion but for getting the chance to rub shoulders with Messi. He told

“It’s the ‘Messi experience’ – there’s not many people that walk into any room and it’s just theirs. I remember when he walked into the tunnel, you’ve got the kids on either side and the media, the referee and everyone’s eyes are on him. It’s just a totally bizarre experience. It’s like having an otherworldly figure in the room.”

Central Coast Mariners striker Jamie Cummins, who was a substitute in that match, also praised Messi for his quality and said being close to him was a surreal experience. He said:

“Being in the vicinity is surreal, it is almost like he’s an alien. He’s just a top player, so good, you give him a split second and he does something crazy.”

Lionel Messi’s Barcelona return depends on Jori Alba’s salary demands: Reports

Lionel Messi is in the final months of his Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) contract and his club future remains in the balance. He has been linked with a host of clubs across the world, with many reports pointing to his return to Barcelona.

Messi has previously made 778 appearances for Barcelona across 13 seasons, scoring 672 goals and making 303 assists. With the La Liga giants, the Argentine veteran won a club-record 34 trophies, including 10 La Liga titles, seven Copa del Rey titles, and three UEFA Champions Leagues.

A return to Spain, however, isn’t a straight move, according to an El Nacional report. It states that the club will have to sacrifice Jordi Alba as they need to make space in the wage bill to facilitate Messi’s signing.

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Edited by Sankalp Srivastava

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