All in the Game: Van Basten settles Messi v Ronaldo debate

Lionel Messi and his PlayStation similarities, Kevin De Bruyne showing up the pundits

Is Messi real?

Arsene Wenger (2010) - "Messi is like a PlayStation player."
Luis Enrique (2014) - "He does things in training that I haven't even seen on the PlayStation."
Radamel Falcao (2015) - "Is Messi a real player or a PlayStation character?"
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (2016) - "Messi is the best player in the world. He plays like he's on PlayStation."
Luis Suarez (2017) - "He's like something from the Playstation."
Aleksandr Mostovoi (2018) - "Leo Messi is the best player of all time. He is a PlayStation player, from another world".
Ciro Immobile (2018) - "Playing against Messi is like playing on the PlayStation." Ruud van Nistelrooy (2019) - "Nobody comes close to Messi. He seems to play like a PlayStation player."
John Toshack (2019) - "Messi looks like a PlayStation player."
Gennaro Gattuso (last week) - "He does stuff that you only see on a PlayStation, things you can't even imagine."

Are you spotting a theme here? (Credit to Barcelona new boy Martin Braithwaite, though, he varied the theme: "If football were a religion, Messi might be God." But what did he mean by 'if'?).

Van Basten has the final say

Maintaining our Messi theme, Marco van Basten had his say last week on the unrelenting debate over who is the superior player, Lionel or the Ronaldo lad. “Cristiano is a great player, but those who say he is better than Messi know nothing about football,” he said.

“Messi is one of a kind. Impossible to imitate and impossible to repeat. A player like him comes along every 50 or 100 years. As a kid, he fell into the football genius pot.”


At this point, then, we'll hand over to former coach/former Italian international Ottavio Bianchi who also had something to say last week on the business of comparing the greats.

“Matisse, Gauguin, Picasso, Beethoven, Mozart . . . they are so good that trying to compare them and their distinctions just isn’t nice,” he said.

“You can’t classify the best painters or musicians because everyone lives in their own time in history. All I can say is that it has been a pleasure to have seen each and every one of them on the pitch.”

Debate settled. Love ‘em all.

Word of mouth (I)

"Liverpool have lost to Atlético, struggled to beat West Ham and been spanked senseless by Watford since that Irish Manchester United-supporting 10-year-old boy wrote a letter to Klopp asking him to stop winning." – Annamaria Emily Dray (@annamariamufc) giving Daragh Curley the deserved credit for Liverpool's recent hiccups.

"Jonjo Shelvey, he's calm and collective." – Neil Warnock with high praise for the Newcastle man on Soccer Saturday.

"My kids think I'm quite cool now because I'm doing fist and elbow bumps." – David Moyes sees the upside of the coronavirus now that he's quit shaking hands.

Naughty City fans

After Kevin De Bruyne's masterclass against Real Madrid in the Champions Legaue last week, naughty Manchester City fans once again dusted down that chat that Sky Sports' Jeff Stelling had with Phil Thompson and Paul Merson when City paid the German side Wolfsburg £55 million for the fella back in 2015.

Thompson: “My goodness, Jeff, the world is going mad! The amount of money they’re paying for this boy is absolutely bonkers!”

Merson: “There’s players you see and you think, ‘yeah’ – but I just don’t see it. I don’t see £50m-odd for this player. I really do not see it at all. Honestly, Jeff, I thought it was in lire.” Morto.

Quote of the week

"Liverpool are getting a spanking and someone admits to sleeping with Boris Johnson. Bloody hell, these leap year days are weird" – Gary Lineker's take on Saturday's big two stories, his chances of an invite to Downing Street receding yet further.

By the Numbers: 422

That's how many days Liverpool had gone unbeaten in the Premier League before Saturday's defeat against Watford. As writer Richard Jolly calculated, "they can now only get 109 points this season". God love them.

Exchange of the week . . .

The one that followed Gigi Becali’s suggestion that FCSB (the club formerly known as Steaua Bucharest) have been struggling this season because their players have been romancing a bit too much.

"They are making love with their girlfriends too often, that's why they aren't playing football so well lately," said the club owner. He then pointed to the more restrained behaviour of league leaders CFR Cluj.

“Their players have sex only once a week,” he said, although quite how he might have known this, he didn’t explain.

Next day. Seville coach Julen Lopetegui’s press conference ahead of his team’s Europa League meeting with CFR Cluj.

Reporter: “Do you control the sexual relations of your players?”

Lopetegui: “I’ve got enough on my plate controlling mine.”

Reporter: [moving on . . . ]

Word of mouth (II)

"It might be in Steven's interest to follow the man who follows Jürgen . . . it's like Frank Sinatra handing you the microphone. How do you follow that?" – Ally McCoist encouraging Gerrard to do it his way.

"Man Utd new-boy Bruno Fernandes and Wag Ana Pinho stock up on Play-Doh and loo roll on trip to Tesco." – Not only that, Bruno bought "a mammoth 24 pack of Andrex loo roll," according to The Sun's scoop. Eat yer hearts out, Woodward and Bernstein.

"Messi? For me he's like any other player. We study him like we would study a player from Celta Vigo or Levante. There is no difference." – Real Madrid goalie Thibaut Courtois . . . at which point Barcelona tweeted a compilation of the nine goals Lionel has put past the fella. Ouch.