Perhaps the biggest question on everyone's lips right now is — is Lionel Messi coming to South Africa on Wednesday?
It remains unclear whether Spanish champions Barcelona will arrive with a star-studded lineup when they take on Mamelodi Sundowns at the FNB Stadium on Wednesday.
As part of the Nelson Mandela 100th celebration, the champions of SA will face the champions of Spain, but Barcelona has yet to confirm the squad to travel to Johannesburg.
This will be the second time in a decade that Barca takes on Sundowns — in 2007, SA football fans were treated to a frenzy of superstars when the likes of Ronaldinho, Samuel Eto'o and Deco graced our shores.
Fast-forward 11 years, and the 2018 side includes elite stars like Luis Suarez, Phillipe Coutinho, Jordi Alba and Andries Iniesta — all bona fide ballers who are most likely to be included in the squad.
But because of his worldwide legendary status, it is the inclusion of Messi that would be the piece de resistance of Barca's latest visit — if the side really wants to treat SA fans.
There's a 50/50 chance that Messi will come — we reckon him missing the weekend game against Levante, although it eventually cost the side its unbeaten status, could mean he was being rested for the Sundowns clash.
However, other reports claim that Messi will not travel to SA, because his national side, Argentina, will want to keep him fit and injury-free before the World Cup.
According to Mundo Deportivo, Barca will arrive in Johannesburg on Wednesday morning, play Sundowns that evening, then fly back to Spain on Wednesday night — so it really is a lightning visit. The game is sold out, and all attention will be on Nasrec on Wednesday.
According to @mundodeportivo, Barcelona will arrive in Johannesburg on Wednesday morning, play Sundowns on Wednesday evening and then fly back to Spain on Wednesday night.— Joe Crann (@YesWeCrann) May 14, 2018
In and out.
While some European fans can't believe Messi would come to SA for what they deem a "needless game", SA fans are still optimistic that the five-time Ballon d'Or winner and five-time Golden Boot winner could still grace our shores.
Guess we'll know tomorrow, when the team lands at OR Tambo International.
Well done resting Messi, @FCBarcelona. Enjoy the additional €7m you're making with that friendly in South Africa. Great decision, bravo.— Alex Truica (@AlexTruica) May 13, 2018
For those asking why Messi is not playing tonight:— Ben Hayward (@bghayward) May 13, 2018
Barcelona have a friendly in South Africa against Mamelodi Sundowns on Wednesday and contractually, I imagine Leo will have to play that. So he is rested for the Levante game.#Messi #LevanteBarca #FCBlive
Saw reports overseas that Messi was rested because of the upcoming flight/trip to South Africa... Would be crazy if that was the case.— Joe Crann (@YesWeCrann) May 13, 2018
I just heard about the South Africa friendly thing. Unbelievable that Barca rested Messi for a friendly and lost out on making history— 12 (@Asensiazo) May 13, 2018
At least Messi will be back for the friendly in South Africa in midweek.— Samuel Marsden (@samuelmarsden) May 13, 2018
Some publications reported that Messi is rested for the Sundowns game, some say he's playing for 45min only, some say he can't risk an injury for World Cup.— Karabo Mokgoko 🦄 (@Karabo_Mokgoko) May 14, 2018
Is he playing or not on Wednesday?