He’s played against Lionel Messi and Barcelona – and Paul Hanlon knows the chance for Hibs to face teams like Arsenal won’t come around often.

Mikel Arteta’s Premier League Arsenal side travel to Easter Road for a friendly tonight as part of both club’s pre-season. Hanlon faced off against Barcelona when the Catalan giants were on a Scottish tour in 2008 and is aware of the occasion. But with UEFA Europa Conference League games to come, the centre-back says it’s all about preparation.

Hanlon will face Arsenal with Hibs tonight.

He said: “It’s going to be a very tough test. No matter who is out on the pitch for a club like Arsenal, it’s going to be tough. So we are excited and it’ll be a great experience for everyone involved.

“I’ve had a slight niggle that kept me out the Stoke City friendly last week but it was more about looking after myself. But I am making sure I’m ready for the real stuff.

“I played in the Barcelona friendly and it’s exciting. You don’t get to play against these players very often. I played against Lionel Messi and he’s done not too bad since that day! These are great experiences to look back on, these are special players, and Arsenal will have top players in their squad.”

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