Lionel Messi News: Louis van Gaal blames Messi for Barcelona's recent UCL failures
What's the story?
Former Barcelona and Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has hit out at Barcelona captain Lionel Messi, putting the blame of the Blaugrana's recent poor form in the UCL solely on the Argentine's shoulders.
He also commented that Blaugrana managers that have succeeded him at the Nou Camp have given players too much leeway, hurting the discipline in the squad.
In case you didn't know...
One of the most decorated managers in world football, van Gaal has won over 20 major honors in his long career. Having led a young Ajax side to the 1994-95 UEFA Champions League title, he went on to win both the 1997-98 and 1998-99 La Liga titles with Barcelona.
He enjoyed a successful spell in Germany with Bayern Munich and won the FA Cup during his time as manager of Manchester United. Van Gaal also guided the Netherlands to a third-place finish at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. On 12 March 2019, van Gaal announced his retirement from football, aged 67.
The heart of the matter
In an interview given to El Pais, the former Netherlands manager hit out at the current Barcelona side.
"I believe that there is nothing more important than the team player,” said Van Gaal. “Barca suffer from that. I think Messi should ask himself how it is possible that he’s gone so long without winning a Champions League.
He went on to throw doubt on Messi's title as the world's best players and also took a shot at PSG's Neymar.
"Look at Barcelona. How many Champions Leagues have they won with the one everybody says is the best player in the world? Look at Neymar at PSG. How many Champions Leagues has he won? He’s the best individual player in the world because his stats are amazing. But why hasn’t he won a Champions League for five years?"
He went on to elaborate that not just manager Ernesto Valverde but Messi is also to blame for Barcelona's decline in Europe over recent years.
"As captain, you have to ask yourself why the team doesn’t win in Europe. I think that Messi is also responsible for what is happening at Barcelona, not just the coach. They have a squad of 30 players and I believe that Messi should adapt himself to the team, and not the other way around."
The former United boss went on to praise former Blaugrana boss and current Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola as the only manager to have properly handled Messi.
"Guardiola made him play to the benefit of the team but the last few coaches have adapted too much to Messi instead of protecting team spirit. Team spirit is the most important thing. “Messi adjusted to Guardiola’s plan, not the other way around.”
Barcelona start their pre-season with a friendly against Premier League side Chelsea. The match is scheduled for 23rd July and is set to take place at the Saitama stadium in Saitama, Japan.