Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has hailed Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi in an interview with the Red Devils’ official website.
Van Gaal, who coached Barcelona on two separate occasions earlier in his managerial career, explained why he holds the four-time Ballon d’Or winner in such high regard.
Messi could feature against Manchester United on July 25, when European champions Barcelona face the Premier League giants in a showpiece friendly in California. However, the Argentina international is likely to still be on holiday, recovering after reaching the final of the Copa America.
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Asked how highly he rates Messi, considered by some as the greatest player of all time, Van Gaal told the club's website: "Messi proves [himself] nearly every game.
“Despite his high talent, he is modest and I like that in him, so I respect him very much.”
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Messi devastated by Copa America final defeat
Messi missed out on lifting the Copa America on Saturday night following a gut-wrenching penalty shoot-out defeat to tournament hosts Chile, who won the competition for the first time in their 99-year history.
Clearly devastated after coming so close to winning his first major trophy with his national team, Messi reportedly refused the best player award for the 2015 Copa America.
The 28-year-old famously won the best player award of the FIFA World Cup finals last summer, minutes after suffering a heartbreaking defeat to Germany, and looked totally non-plussed to receive the accolade.
Messi has always maintained that team awards mean far more to him than individual accolades and his reaction to both ‘best player’ awards shows he really means it.
The Barcelona superstar posted a message on Facebook yesterday to thank the fans who supported him and his teammates throughout the tournament.
“There's nothing more painful in football than losing a final,” he wrote. “But I don't want to leave it any longer to say thank you to everyone who has always supported us and continued to during the tough moments.”
United fans more excited to see Memphis Depay
Although Manchester United fans will be hoping to catch a glimpse of the world’s best player in Santa Clara later this month, they will be far more excited by the chance to watch Memphis Depay in action.
The Red Devils’ £31 million summer signing was likened to Messi, in the sense that he can score goals from wide areas, after he signed on the dotted line for the Red Devils in May.
"He's a goal-scoring winger and there aren't so many of them in the world," Van Gaal told MUTV. "Messi is one of those."
Can Memphis Depay become Manchester United’s version of Lionel Messi? Have your say in the comments below!