By Tim Stannard
Ballon d'Or puts Messi in reflective move about the beginning of the end of his Camp Nou career
Barcelona's squeaky win over Atletico Madrid on Sunday ended up being a double dose of joy for the club.
The match in the Wanda produced three points against a direct rival and another impressive display from Ter Stegen to prove that the club is not just a one-man team that many mealy-mouthed detractors might say.
Barca are a two-man team. Accuracy please.
The other half of that combo was picking up his sixth Ballon d'Or trophy on Monday night in Paris and started to talk wistfully about when he would be put out to sporting pasture and potentially never heard from again.
"The moment of my retirement is approaching," admitted Lionel Messi in wistful mood, gazing at his six Ballon d'Or trophies and looking forward to the day of not having to make polite nods of acknowledgement to Antoine Griezmann at Barcelona's training center.
Almost certainly terrified by such a prospect, Barcelona president, Josep Bartomeu span to Spanish sports daily 'AS' that while it was quite normal for Messi to look to the future now that the player was 32, he predicted that there was "at least four years" left at the Camp Nou.
Considering the club's failure to replace Neymar - and huge expense wasted in the process - Bartomeu will be crossing everything possible to make sure that his four-year prediction comes true.
Man City face another threat to title defense as Poch looms over United
If Manchester City's Premier League title hopes were akin to burned toast at the bottom of a particularly stinky kitchen trash can then they could be worsening on Tuesday. Imagine slushy Cheerios poured on the top.
A midweek round of action in the Premier League is sending Pep Guardiola's players on a very short trip to Burnley with an 11-point gap on Liverpool at the top of the table. Unfortunately, Burnley are the kind of dogged, robust opponents that City don't really enjoy playing.
Meanwhile, on the red side of the city, Manchester United are preparing for ghosts of Christmas past and present to meet on Wednesday as Jose Mourinho returns to the club with his new psychological plaything, Tottenham Hotspur.
"For me, I am 100% sure they will welcome him, the club, the staff, everyone," said Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on the Special One's return, perhaps overlooking the name of Paul Pogba who had a somewhat frosty relationship with Mourinho.
And yes, Pogba is still injured.
Meanwhile, the Norwegian branded stories of his instant dismissal from United should there be a defeat against Spurs as "blatant lies."
Coincidentally, United's next coach, Mauricio Pochettino, has been speaking and says that after a 10-day stay in Argentina to ruminate on his abrupt firing by Spurs he is ready to return to listen to "listen to projects."
Zlatan predicted to make Milan return
Ligue 1 is also having a midweek December jaunt with a round of matches that are live, live, live on beIN SPORTS.
Marseille appear to be back in business after a slumber for a few years. Ligue 1's second-placed side is taking on the division's surprise package of Angers who are currently holding in third. That gets underway at 1PM ET followed directly by Lyon hosting Lille.
Over in Italy, King Zlatan appears to be honing on a return to Milan as his next port of call.
Having bought part of Swedish side, Hammarby, Zlatan is expected to agree to a deal that will see Zlatan in San Siro in January and give Serie A's officially best player, Cristiano Ronaldo, a run for his money in the attention stakes.
The Sports Burst live show will be all over this and everything else at 12PM ET on our beIN SPORTS USA Facebook page.