Lionel Messi has the eyes of the world on him right now.
The media circus might have died down a little bit after his decision to remain at Barcelona for an extra season, but that course of action has arguably cranked up the pressure more than ever.
Besides, it seemed for all intents and purposes that Messi was going to sign for Manchester City this summer and sticking it out at Camp Nou looked to have been done through gritted teeth.
Messi out for redemption
We'll just have to wait and see whether the 2020/21 season will merely reaffirm Messi's qualms with the club or will actually persuade him to stay longer than his current deal's 2021 terminus.
Either way, you can expect Messi to treat the upcoming campaign as though it is his last in Catalonia and for no better reason than to try and spur them on to success.
Last season proved to be a tough 12 months for the Blaugrana and being knocked out of the Champions League with a humiliating 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich is just the tip of iceberg.
Barcelona vs Real Madrid
Before Barcelona can consider winning their first European title in half a decade, they need to focus on regaining domestic control and that entails overthrowing reigning champions Real Madrid.
However, if there's one man that will do everything in their power to stop that from happening it's Eden Hazard, who has a lot to prove after a terrible first season at the Bernabeu.
On his own account, Hazard believes the 2019/20 campaign was the worst of his career, which is no small feat when you consider how much he struggled with Chelsea in 2015/16.
Hazard vs Messi
Nevertheless, you just know that means he'll come flying out of the blocks in his second season with Los Blancos and the Belgian will have some unexpected support from Samuel Eto'o.
According to AS, the former Barcelona forward believes the Real Madrid player can go toe to toe with Messi himself, having shared a dressing room with both players during his career.
At an event to celebrate the upcoming La Liga season, Eto'o is quoted as having said Messi 'is on the same level as Messi'. Pretty remarkable stuff.
Eto'o then said of his former employers more generally: “Messi is like my son. He has stayed and so I'm happy. But the heart of this team needs more Barcelona-style players, players who are tiki-taka, not box to box."
Is Eto'o correct?
Sure thing, Samuel, and although we're not convinced that Hazard is indeed at Messi's level, we've got to credit Eto'o for having stood by this opinion for some time.
We say that because the Cameroonian remarked last summer that Hazard was within a whisker of Messi and clearly the last 12 months - though, we're not sure how - have wholly convinced him.
So, as far as Eto'o is concerned at least, Messi will have to do more than overthrow Real in what could be his final Barcelona season, but prove himself against Hazard to boot.
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