Barcelona’s team bus did not wait for Lionel Messi as it departed Anfield without the Argentine after the Champions League defeat to Liverpool.

Craig Johnston believes the sky is the limit for Liverpool as he said the Reds should be trying to sign Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi, such is the club’s quality and potential following their Champions League heroics.

Liverpool reached back-to-back finals thanks to Tuesday’s 4-0 rout of LaLiga winners Barca – the Reds sensationally overturning a 3-0 first-leg deficit.

Despite the absence of star forwards Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino, Liverpool completed the great escape through braces from Divock Origi and Georginio Wijnaldum at a raucous Anfield.

Liverpool have reluctantly sold Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho to Barca in recent years but former midfielder Johnston feels the club should now be trying to lure the likes of Messi to Merseyside.

“They’re reaching the sky and the limit,” Johnston told Omnisport. “They’re reaching more than their limit given their squad. Look at the names last night without the stars and without Coutinho and Suarez. Imagine if they’d stayed and given their all to us… We have to get into a culture of not letting them go.

“We should be buying Lionel Messi. That’s how good we could be if you turn it around on Barcelona. It’s a fascinating thing for me, players and how they can find 20-30 per cent of enthusiasm and spark and other great players can lose 30-40 per cent given the mood of the match. It was a classic Anfield glory night.”

Liverpool are one of England and the continent’s most successful teams, with 18 top-flight titles and five European Cups to their name.

However, the Reds – one point behind Manchester City heading into the final Premier League match of the season on Sunday – have not won the league since 1990 while they last conquered Europe in 2005, with their latest silverware coming via the 2012 EFL Cup.

Johnston was part of Liverpool’s dominant era in the 1980s, winning five league titles and the European Cup during his seven years at the club.

“I don’t often say this, but I’m so pleased for the younger generation and these poor kids that have been hearing about the good old days from their grandfathers and fathers like me and hearing relentlessly about the great nights at Anfield,” he said.

“Finally, those millennials can now understand what we’ve banging on about for years. They can pass it onto their grandkids in 60 years’ time.”

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