'Any team that has Messi is the favourite' - ex-Spurs midfielder Nayim

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The Spaniard has warned his former side that the Argentine maestro will always give Barca the advantage, ahead of their trip to the Camp Nou

Ex-Tottenham midfielder Nayim has claimed that any side featuring Lionel Messi will always be favourites as Mauricio Pochettino’s side get ready to face Barcelona in a crucial Champions League clash on Tuesday night.

The midfielder joined Spurs from Barca in 1988 and went on to play 144 times for the Londoners, scoring 18 goals.

Pochettino’s side know that they must better Inter Milan’s result against PSV to ensure qualification for the knockout stages of the European competition, and are likely to need a victory.

But the Spaniard has warned his former club that any side boasting five-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi is bound to be at an advantage.

The Argentina international is already the leading goalscorer in the Champions League this season with six in three appearances and he produced a star turn during Barca's 4-2 win against Spurs at Wembley back in October.

In an exclusive interview with Goal, Nayim said: “Any team that has Leo is slightly more the favourite than the rest but in the end, he can not do it all by himself, it can happen that there are games that tie him very well and other teammates have to appear.

“Without a doubt, but there are other important teams that can win, Barcelona seems to have the Champions League as their main goal and until now I have seen how they are competing in Europe quite well.”

The 52-year-old added that should Barcelona fail to go into the match without the necessary intensity, Spurs still have a chance of a positive result: “It depends on how Barcelona comes in. If it goes as Tottenham should, it will be very difficult for them even though they are capable of winning, they are a very solid team with very dangerous players.

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“When Leo Messi is inspired, it is very difficult to stop his team, but if they do not come out with the necessary tension, Tottenham will increase their chances.”

Nayim did, however, acknowledge the importance of Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen returning to the side after both missed the defeat against Barca in the reverse fixture.

He said: “Undoubtedly, we are talking about two very good players, especially on the offensive level, they are guys who know how to create opportunities from nothing and finish very well, they have shot from a distance and we will have to be very aware of them.”

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