Former Barcelona assistant manager Angel Cappa has accused Lionel Messi as losing his passion for the game, following a series of uncharacteristic performances, according to Goal.

The 67-year-old claims that Messi’s showing during the surprise 3-2 defeat at the hands of Valencia last Saturday serves as evidence that the four-time Ballon d’Or winner isn’t the player that he once was.

Cappa did concede that the 26-year-old played better during the mid-week victory over Real Sociedad in the Copa del Rey, but that it means little difference in the long run.

“To play football you need boundless passion, like Messi had, like the great players like [Diego] Maradona ... any important player in the Primera Division: Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets,” Cappa told La Xarxa.

“You need enormous passion, you need that energy that comes from an absolute love of the game.

"[On Wednesday against Sociedad], he participated [in the game] a little more, but the day they played Valencia, I couldn’t understand how a player could play football so dispassionately.

"And especially him, because if we look at a game of his from three or four years ago, there was that craziness, that passion that he had for playing.

"And I don’t know why or for what reason, but that is coming to an end."

Messi has been forced out for large parts of this season due to injury, which may explain why his form hasn’t been as sensational as in recent years. Whilst rightly losing out to Cristiano Ronaldo in the Ballon d’Or last month, he has still managed to maintain a respectable scoring record, and many consider him to have the potential to be the greatest player in history.

However Cappa’s words refute such suggestions, and the former Barca coach believes Messi’s best days are behind him.

“That love of the game, that passion that makes him go and look for the ball on the left, on the right, in the middle, take players on, beat one, then two ... I see Messi has lost that,” the 67-year-old declared.

"He has extraordinary quality, he’s wonderful and at any moment he can come up with a wonderful play, but it’s as if he has been married for 15 years to football and got bored of it.”

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