Just when we thought Lionel Messi had finally gotten over his fraught past with his native Argentina, some random Argentine coach reminds us of how shortsighted those South Americans can be. Or maybe he's right and Messi really should just quit soccer and "go play golf instead."
The latest opportunity to bash probably the country's greatest player ever came ahead of this week's international friendly fixtures. Yesterday was the first official match of new Argentina manager Gerardo Martino, who just last season was the manager of Messi's club team, Barcelona. Messi, suffering from a muscle injury, decided to sit this meaningless round of games out.
Which apparently was too much for one Ricardo Caruso Lombardi, a journeyman Argentine manager who currently coaches Tristán Suárez, a team in the country's second division. Here's what he had to say about Messi's influence on Martino's hiring, translated by Marca:
"Do you think Martino came in without Messi's approval? If he'd said no, Martino wouldn't be there. Messi determines so much."
His more stinging criticism for the Barcelona forward was his play in the World Cup. You know, the one where he and club teammate Javier Mascherano almost by themselves dragged a collection of mediocre defensive parts and a smattering of oft-injured, out of form attackers to the final, where, had even one other player besides them had offered anything in front of goal, they probably would've won in regulation. Here was Caruso Lombardi's assessment:
"I'd tell him to actually run at players for the national side. He's not in Spain where he dribbles past everyone as if they were cones in training. He should have shown up in the final. It isn't Pékerman, Batista, Maradona or Sabella's fault. Messi should have made us world champions…. If he doesn't feel like performing in a World Cup final, he should go and play golf instead."
Caruso Lombardi must've been watching a different World Cup than the rest of us, seeing as how Messi actually did weave through defenders like so many training cones on the way to completing more dribbles than anyone else in Brazil.
The manager isn't a complete dunce, however. He's definitely correct in assuming that if Leo didn't want Martino to get the job he wouldn't have, and he is also under no delusions about what his statements mean for his chances of leading the national team in the future: "I will never lead the team, I suck an egg."