It seems there’s little that Lionel Messi can do wrong.
If you ignore the talent for a moment, what remains is a player who showcases his class whenever he steps on the pitch.
At a time where diving and other foul acts are prevalent in the modern game, Messi is among those trying in vein to uphold the lofty standards expected from fans around the world.
For Messi, the only thing that matters is putting the ball in the back of the net.
The result is a superstar who has become a role model for millions.
"For the world of football, Messi is a treasure because he is a role model for children around the world,” the late Johan Cruyff once said about the Argentinian.
“He is incomparable. He’s in a different league."
Verratti says Messi always gets away with something
But perhaps Messi’s brilliance has blinded us to ignore the moments when he does cross a line on the football pitch.
Marco Verratti, who was sent off after receiving a second yellow card for dissent in Paris Saint-Germain’s recent 2-1 defeat to Real Madrid, believes Messi is guilty when it comes to disrespecting referees.
But because he’s Lionel Messi, five-time Ballon d’Or winner and widely considered to be the greatest player in history, he gets away with it.
“I got it wrong against Real, but it was a red card out of frustration and sometimes referees could be more tolerant,” Verratti said to Gazzetta dello Sport, per the Mail.
“It was a bad reaction but I didn't insult anybody, whereas Messi goes around pointing his finger in the referee's face and doesn't even get punished. But anyway, I need to improve.”
Verratti has a point. Just last week, in Barcelona’s 3-0 win over Chelsea in the Champions League, Messi escaped a booking despite pointing a finger in the referee’s face.
There are many out there who will agree with Verratti, and the Italian probably deserves some credit for coming out and admitting what many other professionals wouldn’t.
But imagine being the referee that was responsible for ruling Messi out of a huge game after handing him a booking?
The 30-year-old scored once again - his 25th goal in La Liga this season - as the Blaugrana defeated Athletic Bilbao 2-0 on Sunday.
Cristiano Ronaldo closed the gap on him in the race for the Pichichi, though, after scoring four for Real Madrid against Girona.
Ronaldo has now hit 22 goals this season. It promises to be a great battle.
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