Man Utd assistant coach Michael Carrick let slip Lionel Messi strategy in 2017 interview

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Manchester United take on Barcelona under the lights at Old Trafford this evening in the Champions League quarter-finals.

The most concerning factor of the tie for United is how they best limit the powers of Messi, who is the competition’s top scorer this term with eight goals.

The Argentine has scored in his last two games against United – the 2009 and 2011 Champions League finals.

Carrick is part of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s coaching team, who have hatched a plan to thwart the five-time Ballon d’Or winner – but the crux of that plan may have been revealed in an interview the former midfielder gave The Times in March 2017.

Coming to the latter stages of his career at that point, the passing pivot recounted how Sir Alex Ferguson set up the team, which worked successfully in the first two games United played against Messi in 2008 when he – and Barcelona – drew blank.

“When we played against Messi, we said: ‘It’s not a one-man job, it’s wherever he is on the pitch, you have to take responsibility for him,’” Carrick revealed in 2017.

“You can’t have someone following him around all the time, it’s almost a team job.

“I’m not sure if I ever tackled him.

“You’d think you’d got him and he’s gone. That was special.”

United midfielders such as Ander Herrera and Scott McTominay were deployed as man-markers in recent years under the now-axed Jose Mourinho, but Carrick’s past comments suggest he will have advised Solskjaer to utilise a different tactic tonight.

The United manager was coy when asked about his strategy for the Barcelona legend, not hiding from his brilliance.

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