Claudio Tapia advised Lionel Messi to give up on his playing time with Barcelona to guide his team to World Cup success in the summer
“Play less football” was the message from Claudio Tapia, Argentina National Football Association’s President, to Lionel Messi. The Argentine, 30-year-old, is still at the peak of his powers and will be central to Argentina’s chances of improving their runners-up finish from last time out. Consequently, Tapia has advised his compatriot to play less for his club so that he stays fresh by the time the World Cup rolls around.
However, his suggestions seem to have gone unnoticed as Ernesto Valverde has played the diminutive Argentine regularly. Messi has started Barca’s 33 out of total 39 games. The match against Espanyol was the first one in which Messi was benched in La Liga. He, however, did act as a substitute to earn the Catalans a 1-1 draw against their local rivals.
Talking about Argentina’s preparations for the World Cup, Tapia said, “I hope all the players arrive at the level they are at the moment. Sergio Aguero is playing outstanding football and Messi is always at the top of his game.”
About the player’s fitness and freshness, Tapia added, “That’s vital for the directors and the coaching staff. We have spoken to Messi about taking caring of himself and playing less for FC Barcelona.”
AFA president Tapia: "I spoke with Messi for him to play less at Barcelona. To be careful, to play a little less."
Worth noting Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli also spoke with Messi in the past about him playing less this season in order to get to World Cup in ultimate shape. pic.twitter.com/5vheeIgvc5
— Roy Nemer (@RoyNemer) February 13, 2018
Tapia is also planning an international friendly against an unlikely opponent in Catalonia. The match, however, faces several difficulties given the tensions between the local government and Spanish government.
“Jorge [Sampaoli] told me it would be good for us from a football point of view and it’s important for us from a financial point of view. But we haven’t closed the deal yet,” Tapia said.
The match could theoretically see Messi play against his club teammates Sergio Busquets, Pique and Sergi Roberto among others.
Lionel Messi is the best of all time. With magic at his feet, the 5 time Ballon d’Or winner has shown no signs of decline. However, one must start taking care of his body and playing time after breaching the 30-year threshold. Tapia’s advice should be considered especially given that Barcelona have a comfortable gap at the top of La Liga.