Lionel Messi has been the orchestrator of Argentina this world cup, and is the most loved footballer in the planet. A rare criticism came his way from the usual suspect the former Dutch footballer Rafael van der Vaart.
“This Messi? I played against ‘the Messi.’ I prayed and cried to my mother. Back then, he couldn’t be stopped. Today, he can be stopped,” Rafael van der Vaart, former Netherlands player, has told the Dutch public broadcaster NoS.
Last year too van der Vaart had had a dig at Messi. “I see him walking around the pitch and I think: are you not embarrassed?”, he then said about Messi’s last phase with Barcelona under Ronald Koeman. “I’m just getting annoyed with Messi. It already started a bit with Koeman [at Barcelona]. It was actually a refusal to work, that is not normal for such a player. And that’s a shame, because a player like this will never be born again.”
Mbappe vs Messi and Brazil
Mbappe’s joust with Messi had come couple of months ago.
In May he would label European teams hold an advantage over Argentina and Brazil as they play “high-level matches”.
“Argentina and Brazil don’t have that level of competition in South America, the football is not as developed as in Europe, that is why most recent World Cup winners have been Europeans,” he had told TNT Sports Brasil.
In August, in a 5-2 win for PSG over Montpellier, Mbappe gave up on a counterattack after not having received a cross from Messi. A short while later, he would push Messi with his shoulder – Messi would have an expression of shock on his face.
Former England footballer Wayne Rooney was aghast. “A 23-year-old player commits to pushing Messi, I have never seen a bigger ego in my life. Someone should remind Mbappe that when Messi was 23 he had already won four Ballon d’Ors.”
Things did seem to get normal in PSG’s next game with Messi crossing and Mbappe finishing a goal – and he would then point his finger at Messi and jubilantly walk towards him.
Messi did respond to Mbappe’s comment about South American football.
“”Many times we talked about that in Spain,” Messi said in an interview with TyC Sports. “When we returned from a qualifier, we told them: ‘You don’t know how difficult it would be for you to qualify for the World Cup if you had to go there, at altitude, in the heat, in Venezuela.”
So would Brazil’s coach Tite. “Maybe [Mbappe] is talking about these Nations League clashes or European friendlies, but not World Cup qualifiers,” Tite said.