Lionel Messi is arguably the greatest footballer of all time. There’s no way to beat around the bush when we say so, and his 2021 Copa America victory only pushed that envelope further along the table.
Since making his senior debut for Barcelona in 2004, Messi has scored an astonishing 748 goals in 929 matches for club and country. In this time, he has also provided 358 assists, which is simply astonishing. Messi has consistently been an all-round forward in the truest sense possible. Not only has he churned out goal after goal, he has also created numerous scoring chances for teammates and often drops deep to help in transition plays.
Messi also has a good record in big games and has proved time and time again that forwards can have good games without scoring a goal. However, this does not mean he has not faced criticism. Messi has been the subject of numerous controversial quotes from critics, pundits and footballers over his 17-year long career.
In this article, we look at five such controversial and critical quotes on Lionel Messi.
#5 “Lionel Messi should go to Real Madrid and prove everything there like Cristiano Ronaldo”
It’s very difficult to find the exact basis for this quote and that’s what makes it a weird one. Former Boca Juniors legend Hugo Gatti weighed in on the Cristiano Ronaldo-Lionel Messi debate with this infamous quote back in 2020. He said:
“It seems as if I am anti-Argentine, but until Messi plays in the big games, he will continue to be a player of home games. He has to have balls to go to Real Madrid and prove everything there like Cristiano [Ronaldo]. Otherwise, he will be just one more [player].”
Barcelona are already heavyweights in Spain. Had Gatti suggested a transfer to the Premier League or Serie A, both leagues where Ronaldo excelled, it would have made sense. To suggest Messi should move to the Blaugrana‘s eternal rivals, who are in the same league, as a means to prove himself did not really seem to carry much valence.
#4 “Ronaldo has some of Maradona’s passion, Messi has none”
In the wake of Diego Maradona’s passing in 2020, the GOAT debate seemed to fuel even more, as many older football viewers and experts continued to believe that either Maradona or Pele was the greatest player to step on the pitch.
Current Benfica manager Jorge Jesus was one of those who believed the mercurial Argentine was the best player he ever saw. He also seemed to prefer Cristiano Ronaldo over Lionel Messi for one fundamental reason:
“Today, among the best two in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo has a little of that (what Maradona had). Messi has nothing. He doesn’t have any passion.”
Jesus also added:
“Messi is a great player. But we’re talking about life and feelings, having passion for the game and for football. I think Maradona was above anyone in that regard.”
Those who observed the recent Copa America will know that Messi has tremendous passion for the game. In fact, he played on with a bleeding foot in their quarterfinal against Ecuador before crying at the final whistle when Argentina’s victory was confirmed.