On the 3rd of March 2013, Danny DeVito tweeted, “Antonin Scalia retire bitch”, referring to the late United States Supreme Court Justice. The tweet has gained over 10,000 retweets in five years. More information on the meme can be found here. The time has come for myself, an Irishman who has never visited Argentina, never mind have any ties to the country, Sports Editor of this very publication, to send the following message out. Lionel Messi retire bitch.
At the risk of sounding like a polemicist, the performances from the Argentine no.10 have been nothing short of a disgrace. On Saturday against minnows Iceland Messi ran a paltry 7.61km. At time of publication, and with the stats from the Croatia debacle not yet available which will surely be lower again; is less than any other outfield player to complete a full game. He has also run less without the ball than any other outfield player, hilariously less than even Kasper Schmeichel and Hugo Lloris who are goalkeepers.
Messi patrolled the Nizhny Novgorod playing surface like a disinterested shopping centre security guard, he’d a 90 minute shift to complete and wanted to put in the minimum effort required and just get out of there. He’d have a little walk about, someone’s stealing a CD there, could chase them, but also can’t be arsed. Two tackles in the game, two fouls. Probably best to just stand still when out of possession then. If anything goes wrong it’s not his fault because there’s only one of him, and besides he has no power to stop it so what is the point in even trying? The narrative is he’s playing with 10 donkeys for teammates who should be grateful to even share the same sport as him.
This is of course nonsense, Argentina have players such as Angel Di Maria, Paulo Dybala and Mauro Icardi not getting into their starting XI, clearly a very talented outfit. “This is going to be his team,” admitted the manager Jorge Sampaoli in March, “He is the best of all and is in a stage of maturity that can he can carry the team on his shoulders,” he added. And therein lies the issue, he is the modern day Napoleon and what he says goes. He doesn’t personally get along with the aforementioned his attitude is cancerous to the rest of the team. Messi thinks they are shit, so they feel they are shit. A self-fulfilling prophecy. Javier Mascherano before the tournament was quoted as saying how he “Hopes Argentina can be up to Messi’s standards.” Not that they will win the World Cup, not that they will impress the fans but that they will be of sufficient enough quality.The fact he is even hoping for this rather than being secure in the knowledge of it being true. How can this be a recipe for success when key players openly doubt they are good enough? Argentina aren’t even able to play the aforementioned Dybala or Icardi due to their toxic relationships with the superstar.