Louis van Gaal has criticised Lionel Messi over his lack of Champions League success with Barcelona since 2015.
The Argentine superstar, 32, wanted to lift the trophy with his side last season, but his dream was crushed when Liverpool pulled off a superb 4-0 thrashing in the second leg of the semi-finals.
And now Van Gaal, 67, believes that Messi should be asking himself why he hasn’t been able to capture the coveted prize with the Spanish club in recent seasons.
“Look at Barcelona. How many Champions Leagues have they won with the one everybody says is the best player in the world?” the ex-Barcelona and Manchester United boss told El País (via Goal’s Sam Lee on Twitter).
“Look at Neymar at PSG. How many Champions Leagues has he won?
“I like Neymar and Messi as individual players, not as team players. I believe that there is nothing more important than the team player.
“Barça suffer from that. I think Messi should ask himself how it is possible that he’s gone so long without winning a Champions League.
“It’s not in the dressing room or in the training sessions at Barcelona, so I cannot judge.
“I like Messi as an individual player. He’s the best individual player in the world because his stats are amazing. I like him!
“But why hasn’t he won a Champions League for five years? Why? As captain, you have to ask yourself why the team doesn’t win in Europe.
“Barça have a fantastic squad. I think that Messi is [also] responsible for what is happening at Barcelona, not just the coach.
“The players share a huge part of the responsibility for what happens in a team.”
Luis Enrique last led Barcelona to the Champions League title when his side beat Juventus 3-1 at the Olympiastadion Berlin in 2015.
And Van Gaal is not the only one to be critical of Barcelona’s failure in last season’s competition.
Brazil legend Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima criticised the double standards placed on Barcelona’s exit in the Champions League, considering how many chose not to blame Messi for their defeat to Liverpool.
And Messi admitted himself that the defeat to Liverpool had a stinging effect on his mentality.
Van Gaal also slammed Barcelona for how management have failed to utilise the five-time Ballon d’Or winner in the same effective way as Pep Guardiola did.
“They have a squad of 30 players and I believe that Messi should adapt himself to the team, and not the other way around,” the retired Dutch coach explained.
“Guardiola made him play to the benefit of the team, but the last few coaches have adapted too much to Messi instead of protecting the team spirit. Team spirit is the most important thing.
“Guardiola won [the Champions League] with Barcelona because he had Messi and because he didn’t let Messi play in his own way. That’s the difference.
“Messi adjusted to Guardiola’s plan, not the other way around.
“Guardiola achieved the most difficult thing: that the players moved in exactly the right direction at exactly the right time.
“To do something like that you have to create a language, a team spirit, a community.
“Look at [Sergio] Agüero. He played for himself until Guardiola changed him and he moves when he’s supposed to. That’s the art of coaching.”
Agree or disagree with Van Gaal?
Let us know in the comments.
Featured Image Credit: PA