Lionel Messi thought ‘Gary Cahill’ was just a turn of phrase

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As the European champions arrive in West London to face Chelsea, Back of the Net's Paul Watson reveals a major oversight in their pre-match scouting...

Barcelona star Lionel Messi has confessed in his pre-game press conference that he believed Chelsea defender Gary Cahill was a prepositional phrase rather than a functional centre-back.

In the build-up to Wednesday evening’s Champions League clash, Cahill has been vocal in his belief the Blues can upset Barça and his comments have deeply unsettled the La Liga giants’ camp.

“We were shocked to hear Cahill’s rallying call, not least because not one of us had heard of this man, Gary Cahill,” the Ballon d’Or winner told journalists.

Talk of 'El Cahill' has been rife in the Catalan press in recent days

“I asked Cesc [Fabregas] if he remembered him from the Premier League and he said he thought ‘Gary Cahill’ was just an English phrase," Messi explained. "You know, something like ‘with all due respect.’” 

Over the last few days, reports from the Barcelona camp suggest that ‘Gary Cahill’ had entered into the players’ vernacular, playing an ungainly and obtrusive role in usually flowing sentences.

During an open training session wave after wave of promising attacks petered out in a crescendo of confused calls of ‘Now, Gary Cahill’, ‘Gary Cahill, first-time ball, Gary Cahill.’

“Of course I’m worried about Cahill,” Barcelona boss Josep Guardiola admitted. “He just has that ability to interfere with our play, especially on a syntactic level, but, Gary Cahill, we feel we have what it takes to get the result we need, Gary Cahill.”

There will be pressure on Guardiola to get pre-match preparations correct. He came under fire back in February following Barca’s shock defeat to an Osasuna side many of his players believed was a water park.