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Friday 15 December 2017

Messi to take on Celtic in Dublin

Lionel Messi is coming back to Dublin. Photo: Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images
Lionel Messi is coming back to Dublin. Photo: Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

Lionel Messi will be back in Dublin for a second appearance next summer as his Barcelona side have agreed to take on Celtic here.

Barca will play the Scottish side at the Lansdowne Road stadium on Saturday July 30th, though the fact that the final of Euro 2016 takes place just 20 days before that friendly could, potentially, see Barca's Spanish international stars like Andres Iniesta and Gerard Piqué miss out.

But the Copa America duties for players like Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez in mid-June will be completed well in time to prevent those marquee names from turning up in Dublin.

Messi played in the Dublin 4 venue in 2010, when Argentina played Giovanni Trapattoni's Ireland in the first international staged at the new Aviva Stadium.

Last year, a Buenos Aires newspaper printed a claim from a former official with the Argentina FA that Barca did not want Messi to play in that friendly in Dublin and that he was only cleared to play when Argentina offered to pay $10,000 to each of the Ireland players to "go easy" on Messi in the game, a claim that was strongly denied by the FAI.

Barca, whose youth side are in action at a tournament oganised by St Kevin's Boys this week, last played in Ireland back in 2003 when they played at the Brandywell in a fund-raiser for a cash-strapped Derry City, Ronaldinho scoring in a 5-0 win for the Catalans against Dermot Keely's Derry side.

Celtic come to Dublin to face Barca as part of a busy pre-season programme that sees them take on Leicester City in Glasgow, and Inter Milan.

"It is magnificent news that our supporters in Scotland and Ireland will be able to enjoy such exciting matches and we are sure our participation will be warmly welcomed by our fans who will look forward to Celtic meeting such a high calibre of opposition in Barcelona, Inter Milan and Leicester City," said club CEO Peter Lawwell.

Fans of the domestic game here may wonder if it's such good news as there are three League of Ireland games scheduled for that July 30th date, including Bray Wanderers' home game against Shamrock Rovers.

Previously, Limerick FC had been in advanced talks about bringing Barca to Ireland for a friendly game but that plan was controversially blocked by the FAI.

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