Lionel Messi could have played his final Champions League game for Barcelona after they were dumped out at the last-16 stage for the first time since 2007.
Messi, coveted by both Barca’s victors last night Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City, is out of contract in June and there appears no sign of him renewing that deal.
Last night he tried, as he always does, to haul Barcelona to his level. Much like in last season’s Champions League, however, he failed.
In August last year, the Spanish side were humiliated 8-2 by Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals. Last night they failed to make up any ground on that with another embarrassing exit.
Trailing 4-1 following a first-leg hammering driven by a Kylian Mbappe hat-trick, this shadow of a Barcelona side fell foul yet again to the Frenchman.
Clement Lenglet fouled Mauro Icardi in the penalty area and Mbappe had no trouble beating goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen and finding the top left-hand corner.
With a mountain to climb already, Barcelona had not even started the ascent.
With four goals for Mbappe against Barcelona, it is the most any player has ever scored against the Spanish side in a season – and it came in just two games.
There were flickers of life from the visiting side. Ousmane Dembele had a shot saved and Antoine Griezmann saw a header stopped by goalkeeper Keylor Navas.
But it was left to Messi, a man who could have played his last game in this prestigious competition for the Spanish club he has served since signing for them as a 13-year-old, who pulled them level on the night.
His long-range shot in the 37th minute crept into the top corner to give them a scintilla of hope. In reality, however, this is not the Barcelona of old. Even that team might have struggled to overcome such a deficit.
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And it was just before half-time when that harsh reality might have started to sink in. Griezmann was brought down by Layvin Kurzawa and the responsibility rested, again, on the broad shoulders of Messi.
Sadly for the player who has been the star of this team for so long, his penalty was saved – the first time, in nine attempts, he has failed to score from the spot in this competition since 2015.
In the end there was to be no repeat of their heroic comeback in 2017, when Barcelona overturned a 6-1 deficit against PSG thanks to three goals in an hour, then another three in seven minutes 17 seconds, with 88 minutes on the clock.
In truth, it never even looked on the cards.