Paul Scholes reveals two things about Lionel Messi

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Former Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes has revealed two interesting facts about Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi.

Scholes, who went head-to-head with the four-time Ballon d’Or winner on four occasions during his career, claims Messi never says a word on the pitch - and that he possesses deceptive strength, despite his diminutive stature.

Writing in his latest Independent column, Scholes also admitted that he attempted to steer clear of Messi, fearing he would be left embarrassed by the Argentine genius.

Scholes reveals two things about Messi

“There have been so many superlatives to describe Messi’s career that you find yourself just adding to the pile of words about him,” Scholes wrote. “So these are some of the little things that you learn when you play against the man himself which you might not see on the television.

“First off, he never speaks on the pitch. In fact, I don’t think I ever heard him say a word. Second, you won’t believe how strong he is for a little man.”

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Scholes admits he avoided Messi

Scholes, who retired at the end of the 2012-13 campaign, continued: “I am not ashamed to admit that in the games against Barcelona I spent a lot of the time just hoping he would take up positions as far away from me as possible.

“Elusive is the word that immediately springs to mind when I think about Messi’s style of play. You think you have an eye on him and then – blink – he has gone, only to reappear somewhere else in space, with the ball.

“When you try to face up to him and make a tackle you know what it is he is going to do with the ball. The problem is staying with him.

Messi embarrassed Scholes in 2008

Scholes might still have nightmares about one particular piece of skill Messi used to beat the Manchester United legend in a one-on-one duel during the 2008 Champions League semi-finals.

Messi, with the ball glued to his foot, left Scholes red-faced with a quite brilliant shimmy from his left foot to his right, performed at the speed of light.

But the former England international is not alone; Messi continues to humiliate the world’s best players with his remarkable low centre of gravity and unparalleled close control.

Scholes feels he was similar to Messi

Reading Scholes’ comments, you get the impression he sees some of himself in Messi.

The retired midfielder, who kept a low profile throughout his playing career, added on Messi: “He avoids the highs and lows of football. You rarely see him go over the top in a goal celebration, just as he never gets too downhearted.

“That’s a quality I think that I shared when I was a player. The game changes so quickly and you have to get yourself in a position mentally where you can deal with whatever is thrown at you.”

Mutual respect

Messi is considered by some to be not only the greatest player of his generation, but also the greatest footballer than has ever lived.

But the respect between Messi and Scholes is certainly mutual. The Barcelona icon was quoted by the Daily Mail earlier in his career as saying: “At La Masia (the Barcelona youth academy) his name was mentioned a lot. In some ways, he was one of our teachers.”

Scholes, like Messi does now, earned huge respect from his teammates and rivals because of his extraordinary talent. Just this week Wayne Rooney named Scholes as the best player he has ever played with, alongside Cristiano Ronaldo.

Scholes said very little off the pitch during his career, but he is making up for lost time in retirement - and his latest comments about Messi provide a fascinating insight about what it’s like to face the world’s best player.

Would Scholes and Messi have been the ultimate midfielder-striker partnership? Have your say in the comments section below!

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La Liga
Paul Scholes
Lionel Messi
Premier League
Manchester United

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