In the neat and tidy world of the public imagination, Lionel Messi is the angelic naif foil to Cristiano Ronaldo, the mercurial egotist. Thankfully, reality is more complicated than that, as former Messi teammate and opponent Yaya Touré points out in this interview clip.
You may remember the all-timer Messi had in the Champions League last season in the first knockout round, the most indelible moment of which was the Argentine’s nutmeg on James Milner and Pep Guardiola’s stunned reaction. What you may not recall is that Messi squeezed the ball between the legs of a couple more City players in that game, which themselves only padded the nutmeg stats he had already accrued in the first leg. Messi really was on one in those games:
As Yaya points out, this was no accident. In the interview above, Touré explains that before the second match against City, his old teammate (the pair spent three seasons together with Barcelona) told Yaya to watch out because he was planning on nutmegging any City player in sight. Whenever Touré got anywhere near Messi, he prayed the forward wouldn’t humiliate him in front of his family by flicking the ball between his legs.
So there you have it. As you could suspect from all the conversations Messi has with opponents every week, hand placed conveniently over his mouth, Leo is in fact explaining to the man next to him all the ways he’s about to bust his ass en route to a Barcelona win.
For some, these stories will taint the simplistic version of Messi that exists in their head. But that’s dumb. A shit-talking Messi is the best Messi.