An Argentine forward on the books at Camp Nou has seen a fellow countryman suggest that he has become more of an individual in recent times
Lionel Messi has become “more selfish” with age, claims Mario Kempes, while the Barcelona star’s eternal rival Cristiano Ronaldo is considered to now be more of a team player at Juventus.
An Argentine icon at Camp Nou has been the undisputed star turn in Catalunya for over a decade.
He has boasts a world-class supporting cast, but the 31-year-old has remained the centre of attention.
His remarkable exploits, which have seen him land five Ballons d’Or and break countless records, have been achieved while working as a collective.
Messi has been able to thrive as an individual, but always been prepared to do his bit for the greater good.
A legendary countryman has now suggested that tweaks have been made to Messi’s game which make him more focused on himself.
In contrast, while the South American has headed in one direction, Ronaldo is seen to have moved the other way by deserting the selfish streak which made him a talismanic presence at Real Madrid.
Kempes, a World Cup winner with Argentina in 1978, told AS of a man already assured of a place among the all-time greats: “Messi is Messi and Messi is Barcelona.
“What you do or do not do is key. When Messi is on the field, prepare yourself, because you do not know at what moment he is going to mess you up.
“But Messi should not surprise us. We have seen him do everything, although I think he has slowed down a bit and now I see him wanting to do more things on his own.”
Kempes added: “Before I saw him as a team player, now I see him more selfish in his actions.
“It is the opposite of Cristiano, who now plays more for the team than for the ‘me’.
“I will tell you another thing, we Argentines criticise Messi because we are specialists in criticising what is ours.
“If you ask me who I would have liked to play with, I would say that with Messi … because I already played with [Diego] Maradona.”
Messi’s supposed selfish streak has helped him to more major honours this season.
He has claimed a 10th La Liga title with Barcelona and could complete a domestic double in a Copa del Rey final clash with Valencia on Saturday.
Another Pichichi crown has also been secured, along with a sixth European Golden Shoe.
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