JESSE LINGARD: After an astonishing career, it would be fitting to see Lionel Messi lift the World Cup with Argentina… he is a genius and operates on a different level to other players!
In Lionel Messi’s last World Cup, I would absolutely love to see him win it. France have a strong team but when Messi is in a game, he’s capable of shaping it as he likes, turning a match on its head in seconds. After his astonishing career, it would be fitting to see with the one trophy he’s not won.
I’ve played against Messi for Manchester United against Barcelona and he’s a genius. I’ve heard a number of brilliant players who have pretty much won it all say that they also accept he’s just operating on a different level.
When you’re on a pitch with him, if he turns it on, he’s not even human. He’s a joke, his football IQ is off-the-scale silly. He can walk past you and you just know that however languid his body language appears, his mind is in the game.
After his astonishing career, it’d fitting to see Lionel Messi with the one trophy he has not won
Messi is a genius and operates on a completely different level compared to other players
He’s analysing the space around him, calculating where and when to drift into it and where and when and how to get on the ball. It’s like he’s planning six moves ahead and making the best instant decision.
The phrase is sometimes used that a superb footballer at their peak is unplayable. If you’re not totally on top of what he might do, he’ll kill you. If you are on top, he can still kill you.
In the Croatia match he took the ball from halfway down the right and made one of the best defenders in the tournament look hopeless.
Jesse Lingard can see Morocco’s No8, Azzedine Ounahi, getting a big move soon from Angers
Then he twisted and turned, dummying two opponents as he span one way, then the other, before opening the space to ping the cross for Julian Alvarez to score.
There have been some good games at this tournament. Morocco were so good. I can see their No8, Azzedine Ounahi, getting a big move soon from Angers.
But as Messi ends his association with the World Cup, it would be fabulous to see him produce magic to provide Argentina, and himself, with a fitting send off.