Gary Lineker responds to Liverpool fan after criticism for Lionel Messi free-kick reaction

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Gary Lineker has made no secret of his admiration for Lionel Messi down the years.

The former England striker absolutely adores the Barcelona legend, which is entirely understandable.

Messi is arguably the greatest footballer of all time and every football fan should appreciate his genius while we can.

Messi turns 32 next month. Like it or not, the Argentine forward is now approaching the latter stages of his illustrious career.

However, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner might just be playing the best football of his career right now.

Although he’s scored more goals in previous seasons - with his record high being a mind-blowing 73 goals during the 2011-12 campaign - Messi’s all-round contribution in matches these days is extraordinary.

The South American, who has still managed to score a ridiculous 48 goals in 46 games this term, is capable of single-handedly turning any match in Barça’s favour - as we saw once again at the Camp Nou on Wednesday night.

Barcelona v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Semi Final: First Leg

Messi scored two second-half goals against Liverpool - including a magnificent free-kick - to leave his side with one foot in next month’s Champions League final.

Lineker, who was presenting for BT Sport, witnessed Messi’s latest moment of magic from the Camp Nou.

And when Messi’s free-kick flew past Alisson, the 58-year-old - along with former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand - celebrated wildly.

The clip of Lineker celebrating was subsequently posted to social media and this, in turn, sparked an all-too-predictable backlash.

Many Liverpool fans were angry that Lineker had celebrated a goal scored against an English team - seemingly ignoring the fact that a) he loves Messi, and b) used to play for Barça.

“Seem to have upset a few @LFC fans by celebrating greatness last night,” Lineker tweeted on Thursday morning. “Admittedly it was a bit cringe, but as a former player who loves @FCBarcelona I make no apologies for dancing to the diminutive Dios. 👍🏻“

This only led to more abusive tweets and Lineker, presumably having reached the end of his tether, told one Liverpool supporter: “I’m sure you’ll get over it. Stay strong” after they expressed their ‘disappointment’ in Lineker and Ferdinand’s reaction.

It must be noted that not every Liverpool fan has taken Lineker’s reaction to heart.

Tony Barrett, the Reds’ Head of Club and Supporter Liaison, summed it all up nicely on Friday morning when he tweeted: “A further example of how grim Twitter can be. A former Barcelona player celebrating a Barcelona goal would be “nothing to see here” territory in the real world but on here it somehow becomes a crime against humanity.”

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