Leo Messi did something impossible on Tuesday night. He got even better. He had scored in the Champions League final, the Copa del Rey final and the World Club Cup final, emulated that goal from Diego Maradona, hit three in the clasico against Real Madrid at the Camp Nou, two at the Santiago Bernabéu, and scored two hattricks in a row. But he'd never scored four before. Until Tuesday night.
Even Marca and AS, the myopic leaders of the Madrid media dropped to their knees; so did the English. They could ignore him no more. Last night, as El PaÌs, put it, “Messi ate Arsenal”.
“Messi,” declares the cover of AS, “is frightening”. Inside, their headline chanted: “Messi! Messi! Messi! Messi!", while the inventor of this delightful device, Barça-baiter-in-chief Tomas Guasch, was busy saying a prayer: “Ay Manuel Pellegrini, may God guide you!” As for Marca, their cover asks: “And how do we stop this guy?”
It is a pertinent question. Booting him about doesn't seem to work; he just gets even more determined. And besides, it is easier said than done. A few weeks ago, the Mallorca manager Gregorio Manzano insisted that the only way was with a rifle.
On Tuesday night, Arsene Wenger described him as “a PlayStation footballer”. The Catalan daily Sport calls him “football's Picasso”, insisting: “We're going to have to expand the dictionary to find new adjectives for him, because majestic, lethal, magic, incomparable and divine have all been used up.” Its website implored fans: “Don't say football, say Messi.”
El Mundo Deportivo went for “mythical, universal, the Lord's anointed one.” But most cut out the middle man. “There is,” said El Mundo, “only one God: Messi”.
‘Messi is playing kick-about with Jesus'
Lionel Messi is “playing a kick-about with Jesus” but must not make the wrong choices, Diego Maradona said on Thursday. The Argentina coach said that the 22-year-old was on the right path to be the greatest footballer. “He's at a select level, being the best in the world and a star at Barcelona. Leo is playing kick-about with Jesus,” he said.
“There are moments when you are invaded by loneliness, but you have to be strong so you don't end up doing things one did,” he said, apparently referring to his drug addiction during his playing days. “I spoke to him a lot about this," he told Radio Metro in Buenos Aires.
“I told him I’d done my thing, now he has to make his career and at the end we’ll see who was the greatest of all time,” he said.