Napoli manager Gennaro Gattuso believes Lionel Messi has the ability to do things only capable “on the PlayStation”.
The Italian coach was giving his thoughts on the Argentine ace ahead of his side’s Champions League last-16 encounter against Barcelona on Tuesday.
Messi’s role versus Napoli: Five things to know…
- Barcelona take on Napoli in the Champions League last-16, with the first leg to be contested on Tuesday night in Italy.
- Napoli are yet to progress past the last-16 and face another tough task to see that scenario materialise this season.
- Gattuso faced Barca six times as a player for AC Milan, winning twice, drawing twice and losing twice.
- The Italian has since claimed Messi’s fleet-footed exploits transcend the physical turf.
- Messi will be hoping to banish past demons in this competition and guide Barca to European glory once more.
The Partenopei welcome Messi and Co. to the Stadio San Paolo on Tuesday night in the first leg of their knockout phase double-header.
Former hatchet-man Gattuso – who replaced Carlo Ancelotti in December – was under no illusions about the scale of the task at hand during his pre-match discussions, believing his side “will have to suffer a lot” when Barca come to town.
Both Gattuso and Quique Setien will be making their coaching debuts in the Champions League in midweek, but the former is certainly wary of the threat lying in wait for his players.
“Tomorrow we will have to suffer a lot, but I will be satisfied if we are not afraid, if we are alive, if we respect the opponent but if we play to our own strengths,” Gattuso told reporters.
“Lionel Messi? I have read whether to make a cage or not, but we need the collective game to combat someone like him, and it is not just him.
“He is the best in the world, for how he has lived his entire career. He is always perfect, never a misplaced word, he is an example for everyone.
“He does things that I only see on the PlayStation. He has an incredible quality and for years he has been the best of all time.”
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Gattuso: Diego is the god of football
This will be the first time Messi has featured at the San Paolo, the theatre of Diego Maradona’s greatest club level accomplishments.
The Messi-Maradona debate has caused endless discussion in football discourse, and Gattuso has now weighed in with his own verdict.
“Diego is the god of football,” Gattuso said.
“I never saw him play in person. I know what he was. I missed out on something wonderful, without doubt.”