Mark van Bommel says Lionel Messi would struggle to achieve the feats he has in La Liga if he was plying his trade in Italy.
Messi struggled to impose himself on proceedings last night as AC Milan secured a famous 2-0 win over Barcelona to put them on the verge of qualification for the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
The Argentinian forward, who has 48 goals this season already and broke the record for most most goals in a year in 2012, has not scored in his 11 games against Italian opposition from open play.
Van Bommel, who spent a season with the Rossoneri between 2011 and 2012, believes Messi wouldn't able to score so many goals if he was playing in Serie A.
"Three quarters [of the AC Milan changing room] thought he would score definitely less [than 30 goals a season in Serie A]," Van Bommel, who also had a spell with Barcelona, told Algemeen Dagblad.
"And that's me included, yes. Serie A is just a very different approach to football. You can still neutralise sides like in no other league.
"It was only last year that Messi scored his first goal against an Italian club. This is no coincidence."
Van Bommel is now back playing with PSV Eindohoven, the club he made his name with between 1999 and 2005.
The Dutchman says he enjoyed life at both the Nou Camp and the San Siro, but admits he preferred playing in Italy because of the affection shown to him by the fans.
"At Barcelona I had a great year, but the affection at Milan was huge," the former Netherlands international added.
"Perhaps it was also about how I arrived at the club. I was brought in as a big name. But at Milan, I was able to apply myself, I think, in terms of football but also as a human being, and I had a great time.