Former Barcelona and Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has blamed Lionel Messi for the Catalan club’s Champions League failure.
They haven’t won the competition since 2014, which is a drought considering the talent in their roster – beaten by Liverpool in the semi-finals of the competition the season just gone in crazy circumstances.
We battered them 4-0 at Anfield after losing 3-0 at Camp Nou, with Barcelona basically unable to enjoy their La Liga triumph as a result.
Van Gaal, somewhat harshly when you remember what actually happened in both semi-final legs, has blamed Messi for playing as an individual and not a team player.
“I’m not in the dressing room or in the training sessions at Barcelona, so I cannot judge. I like Messi as an individual player. He’s the best individual player in the world because his stats are amazing. I like him!” he told El Pais.
“But why hasn’t he won a Champions League for five years? Why? As captain, you have to ask yourself why the team doesn’t win in Europe. Barca have a fantastic squad.
“I think that Messi is aka responsible for what is happening at Barcelona, not just the coach. The players share a huge part of the responsibility for what happens in a team.
“They have a squad of 30 players and I believe that Messi should adapt himself to the team, and not the other way around.
“[Pep] Guardiola made him play to the benefit of the team but the last few coaches have adapted too much to Messi instead of protecting the team spirit. Team spirit is the most important thing.”
Messi is still the planet’s best player – and we think Barca’s defenders were more culpable for what happened at Anfield than the Argentine!
But it seemed very much like the 4-0 win that night was written in the stars.
We’re sure Messi will get another chance with Barca, but we wouldn’t be scared of them or anybody else in the Champions League next season.
Liverpool are the feared side in Europe – reigning champions and ready to do it all again.