Lionel Messi can prove in El Clasico that he is “still committed to Barcelona”, says Rivaldo, with the Argentine being challenged to put in a “match-winning display”.
Much of the summer transfer window was dominated by speculation regarding the future of the six-time Ballon d’Or winner at Camp Nou.
On the back of a disappointing end to the 2019-20 campaign, Messi aired his desire to take on a new challenge. Barca quickly closed off the exits and the 33-year-old eventually revealed to Goal that he would be sticking around to honour the final year of his contract.
He has remained a talismanic presence for Ronald Koeman’s side since deciding to stay put, but questions over his ongoing presence in Catalunya remain.
Messi will be free to speak with any of his many suitors from January, with no fresh terms in place yet, and Rivaldo wants the South American to silence any doubters when taking to the biggest of domestic stages on Saturday.
The Blaugrana legend told Betfair: “El Clasico on Saturday is the perfect opportunity for Lionel Messi to prove he is still committed to Barcelona.
“He had a tough summer, and has not started the season brilliantly, but this is the perfect match to raise his game and prove that he's still an exceptional player. A match-winning display against Real Madrid would boost his confidence for the remainder of the season.
“The match is also a chance for Barca to pile pressure on Real Madrid. They're in poor form and have lost their last two matches - both at home. Mind you, Barca were beaten last weekend in La Liga by Getafe.
“I said at the start of the season that Madrid would have an edge over Barcelona after being crowned La Liga champions and having a quiet pre-season, but now Barcelona have the chance to respond by sending Madrid into an unexpected crisis with three consecutive losses.
“On the other hand, Real Madrid will approach El Clasico as a chance to put their bad results behind them. Once again we should see a very passionate match, even without fans in the stands.”
Another of those who could do with putting in a positive performance against the Blancos is Antoine Griezmann, with the Word Cup winner still struggling to convince at Barca.
Rivaldo believes the Frenchman is capable of becoming a key man, but accepts that he needs to start proving his worth when it matters most.
The Brazilian said: “Barcelona are back to winning ways after beating Ferencvaros in the Champions League in midweek, but they lost to Getafe at the weekend at La Liga. Francisco Trincao started in Antoine Griezmann's place and he played well, so it'll be interesting to see who Ronald Koeman selects this weekend.
“Griezmann is the more experienced player that produced solid seasons with Atletico Madrid and the French national team. He needs to step up at Barca because he's a great player, so I'm sure he is fired up for El Clasico.”