Koke Lionel Messi Atletico Madrid vs Barcelona La Liga 2020-21Getty Images

Koke explains how he'd try to convince Messi to sign for Atletico Madrid

Koke has spoken about how he would love to persuade Lionel Messi to join Atletico Madrid from Barcelona, but admitted it would be difficult “for him to get out of there.”

The Spain midfielder is currently preparing for the Madrid derby, with his side in the position of Liga title favourites on account of the six-point advantage they have over Real Madrid - with a further six back to Barca.

Real Sociedad and Villarreal make up an unusual top three in La Liga, in recent seasons at least, with Atletico leading the way following an unbeaten start to the campaign.

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Real entertain Atleti on Saturday, and Koke spoke to As about how his side will travel across the city without any fear.

“It's an exciting game,” Koke said. “It's a day that you always mark on the calendar and you face it with enthusiasm and aim to do things well. It's really special and we hope that things go well for us to win it.”

Koke was asked about Messi’s situation at Barca, with the superstar in the final year of his contract and possibly heading for the exit door after coming close to leaving earlier this year.

There will be no shortage of teams in the hunt should Messi decide to leave Camp Nou, and Koke would be making sure his club make a suitable pitch to the Argentina international.

“It's difficult,” Koke said . “Leo has made his career in Barcelona, ​​it will be difficult for him to get out of there.

“But why not at Atleti? Sometimes talking with friends we laugh a lot and ask ourselves: How would you convince Messi to come to Atletico?”

Koke believes Atletico would struggle to finance a salary package for Messi, but feels their trump card is that the team are on the up and challenging for honours.

“Economically it is difficult because you cannot pay the salary that he earns in Barcelona,” he said. “You never know. Players often measure ourselves by the hunger to win things and things that clubs have not been able to win.”

Atletico have a potential ace in the pack in the shape of Luis Suarez, who is a close friend of Messi and made the move to the Spanish capital from Barca earlier this year.

"Maybe Suarez can convince him,” he said. “It's football, we have a great squad, the players we have are spectacular and hopefully it will be a great year in the Champions League for Atleti.”