Lionel Messi Barcelona 2020-21Getty

'Messi probably has a psychological problem' - Pirlo

Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo has suggested Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi is suffering from a psychological problem that has nothing to do with on-field issues.

Pirlo is preparing his side for a meeting with Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday - with both sides already guaranteed to progress to the knockout stages of the competition.

Barcelona’s positive form in Europe is in stark contrast to their struggles on the domestic front, as they trail Liga leaders Atletico Madrid by 12 points.

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The club’s struggles mirror those of Messi, who has been a long way short of his scintillating best so far this term - albeit he has seven goals to his name.

Pirlo does not believe Messi's talent is on the wane, rather he feels the Argentina superstar's struggles date back to the off-season when he was linked with a move away from the club.

"[Messi] is at a special moment in his life, not in his career, because he had a problem this summer," Pirlo is quoted by Marca as saying in a press conference on Monday. "[It's about] whether he would stay at Barcelona or not.

"But during games he has always shown his value. More than a football [issue], he probably has a psychological problem, but I don't want to go into it, as it has nothing to do with us.

"Messi is a phenomenon and he has shown it."

Juventus trail Barca by three points, and the Catalans have a vastly superior goal difference - meaning the Serie A side need a big win to top the group.

Pirlo is aware and with progress to the next round already secured, he will give his side the green light to go on the attack at Camp Nou.

"We have nothing to lose,” Pirlo said. “We can play an open game. We are aware of the mistakes we made in the first leg.

"It will be a very difficult game because we will have to suffer, but we will have our chances and we have to take advantage of them.”

There will be plenty of eyes on Cristiano Ronaldo upon his return to Spain to face off against his old rival Messi. Pirlo was asked for his opinion on the pair, but remained on the fence - saying “they are two phenomenons.”