Rome - Jose Mourinho has not yet talked about him, but Inter Milan fans seem to know how to take care of Lionel Messi when their side tackles Barcelona and the Argentine ace in two weeks in a two-legged Champions league semi-final.
"Lucio, you think about Messi," some of them shouted early Wednesday at Milan's Malpensa airport as they welcomed back their heroes from a 1-0 win over CSKA Moscow that brought them past the tournament's quarter-finals.
The four goals Messi scored in a 4-1 drubbing of Arsenal triggered a wide range of appreciative reactions from Italian media, who labelled him "king of football" and "something from outer space".
With the clash between the Spanish holders and Inter two weeks away, former playmaker Luisito Suarez, a Spanish player who in the 1960s lifted the two continental trophies won by the Milanese club warned that "the semi-final will be tough, but it will be so for them too."
Suarez's team mate Sandro Mazzola said that "Barcelona too have to worry. Inter have already played against them (drawing 0-0 and losing 2-0 in the group phase) and Mourinho had a chance to watch them well. I think there are 50 per cent of chances."
Messi himself, in an interview on the website Gazzetta.it warned that "the season of (Argentine Diego) Milito in the Serie A is impressive.
"As usual he vies for the top-scorer title. He scores a lot and his game is crucial for Inter. He is doing some important things."
Messi also said he appreciates compatriot defender Walter Samuel for how he adapted to Italian football after his stint at Real Madrid.
A curious comment about the star striker came from Enrico Preziosi, the president of Serie A side Genoa, who almost signed the 22-year-old when he owned Como, a northern-Italy club he took for one season to the top flight.
"We had Messi for a try-out and we decided no to take him for a series of reasons. Once in a while you make a mistake. We had followed him since he was 14. He was a boy who already at that time was a phenomenon," Preziosi said.
"He is worth half a team. We would have taken care of the club's finances for 30 years."