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The OTB podcast network OTB, and this is OTB Sports Radio, I'm delighted say 10 Victory is with us this morning.
Good morning to you. How are you?
It's five forty one in the morning. So I think it's a bit too early to say, but I think I'm all right.
OK, well, I really appreciate you getting up. No worries. My pleasure. Very few things in the world would make us ring you and ask you to get up at this time. But this is the end of an era like, you know, if if the transfer happens. And I actually think that it's more likely to happen than not at this point.
And it's the it is it like the greatest player who produced some of the best football that history will ever see is is involved in a horrible, horrific divorce from the team that made him it's it's no crack.
No. And for those who have been thrilled by everything he's done with Barcelona over the years, it is a sad divorce. But I can't believe that that too many people are surprised. Firstly, I can't believe that too many people who follow Barcelona would have been surprised by what happened in that game against Bayern Munich. And secondly, of those people, I can't believe that many would be surprised by the major consequence of that defeat, which is Lionel Messi, his desire to to to leave because Barcelona have been a shambles for for for some time.
And the message is at a stage of his career now where it doesn't seem to be in his best interests to be part of a rebuilding job.
It's something that he's already doing with Argentina. You may remember after the last World Cup when Argentina was a shambles, there were there was a debate about whether he would ever bother playing for his country again, what he's done since what Argentina was actually redoubled his dedication.
He's taken on the role of wise old owl with Argentina. There were always complaints that he was too aloof, that he was in his own little world, but it was only ever speaking to his old mate, Sergio Aguero. What he's done with Argentina, especially over the last 18 months, is to become the vocal leader, the encouraging figure he's taken on that burden during the Cop America last year.
I even talked so much after the games that he talks himself into trouble. He picked up a suspension for for making unwise remarks about the way the competition was being run. So he's taken on that wise old owl role with Argentina. But he can't change his country. He can change his club. So why would he want to do the same role with Barcelona, a wise old owl in a rebuilding process? When he has options, he can go elsewhere.
He can look for a club that can give him the chance of winning the Champions League. And also, it would seem that he's lost respect for those who have been running Barcelona. So it's it's sad for those of us who love, love, love what he's done with Barcelona. But I don't see this is at all surprising.
How big is this story as a matter of interest in Brazil, for example? Are they agog at what's going on or is it a bit like my luck? We're happy to answer because he's not one of ours.
We're not huge everywhere. It's huge for anyone who follows world football. It's obviously in Argentina itself. It's very, very exciting, especially for fans of the splendidly named News Old Boys Club in Argentina, second city of Rosario, because that could be one. One option is often talked about his dream of ending his career with a club where it all started news. I personally I think it's it's premature at this stage. I think he's if he's got three years, maximum four left at the highest level, I think he's going to go somewhere that can give him a chance of winning the Champions League.
And I would imagine that you wouldn't have made this move without without without having it relatively relatively clear in his mind where he would like to go now, where that's going to be. We're going to find out soon if if this thing does go through.
But for the time being, I think clubs all over the place can dream like they can get out their spreadsheets and try and work out a way to to pay for it, to pay the wages of this this magnificent player. And coaches can plot about how they could fit him into their into their starting line up players. And big clubs can dream about lining up with Lionel. It's exciting times.
I think several people have made the idea public that it makes sense.
Really amazing to know what his next step is here. This isn't just an emotional reaction to what happened last week into the conversation. What real human part of me wonders if. If. If you're only a messy situation, you can decide that you want to go to city or you can decide you want to go to Paris and fair enough, you know, you're not returning. But also it's nice to be wanted. So you put this out there and you do see what those spreadsheets look like.
And you do invite people to make a proper pitch for your talents. If you think back to LeBron James leaving Cleveland the first time, it was essentially an open competition, like everybody got the opportunity to go and talk to him and and say, yeah, he Tibbett about here. Look, look, as I and from my cape, all of the things that I give you look down there, everything there is yours.
And I would say that, you know, Man United are cobbling together their package. I mean, I don't know if I don't if Roman Abramovich isn't like our.
Are you sure we want all these young kids from the ones you know?
Well, as as a Tottenham fan, I have to declare an interest. Obviously, I hope the Idealizes is putting in a word, you know, he's pulling a connection to bring him.
You know, you couldn't you couldn't imagine a better stadium in which. But that's the thing. We can all dream. You know, even Leeds fans can dream about team teaming up with Bouser in in the Premier League. So, you know, dreaming is free. Let's let's all enjoy ourselves working out how Messi would fit into our team.
How big a factor is this? Said Lane. And I said, Luis Suarez have such a close relationship. We've heard a few years earlier on this morning saying it is a factor from, I guess, writing about both of these people and speaking about with people throughout your career. How close do they become over the last couple of years?
Well, they've they've had a splendid partnership, but I wouldn't stress that too much as a factor in Messi leaving because I think Suarez has become part of the problem.
Magnificent player, not only a fighter, but a player of of tremendous quality. And he scored a terrific goal against against Bayern. And he had a hand in the other goal they scored, which is the angle where Alaba panics and puts it into his own net because of the presence of Suarez. So he still he still has plenty to offer.
But Messi over over recent times has stressed that even against lesser teams in La Liga, Barcelona are being are being pressured and they're not showing the intensity that lesser sides in La Liga can show. And Suarez is part of that problem. It's part of the the mismanagement of Barcelona in in recent times, well run clubs.
And the example that I always grew up with as a kid was Liverpool in the seventies and eighties, utterly ruthless about replacing players. They'd replace a player a year or two seasons before you thought it was necessary to do so. And the spine of that Barcelona side grew old together. You know, Peekapoos gets Suarez.
Messi is the same age as them. But Messi, on his range of talents, is so magnificent that he can compete at the highest level after having lost that little bit of his pace. But it's a problem with Suarez.
We clearly saw in the Bone Munich game, as you've been seeing with Barcelona for some time, the lack of attacking Pace. And Suarez in his pomp, absolutely magnificent on the shoulder of the last defender magnificence. And what that does is that forces the opposing defensive line back, creating space in which Messi can work his magic now against by it didn't happen at all because Suarez, without his pace and with no pace in the attacking.
And that's been a problem for for for Barcelona for a while. They missed Spain's on Felipe Cochino, who didn't need couldn't solve that problem. He's another player, wants the ball to FTS Dame Bella, who was an expensive option as has been unfit and has given them problems.
And so Byan were able to press with absolute relentless ruthlessness when the goal that effectively wins that game.
Remember, Suarez has just scored and and Barcelona have pulled it back to four two.
And you're thinking, can they can they get out of jail with this one? And the goal that if that ends, it is as a contest, it's by its fifth goal. You get Davies the Byan left back, getting to the baseline, pulling the ball back for Kimmich, the right back to school from inside the six yard books.
So you've got a side that that can throw so many players forward that you got both of its fullbacks right up there and they can press that high because they're not worried about the pace at the other end.
You know, they didn't go through some of the defensive risks that they had against Leon even or against PSG in the final. So I don't think it's it's just a case of loyalty to Luis Suarez, I think it's the case of of losing respect for people running the club who haven't been taking the hard decisions, the necessary decisions to come up with a competitive team, because these these heavy defeats in the Champions League have become the dismal annual annual routine for for Barcelona.
And it's a big rebuilding job, isn't it? I mean, this is going to take time and time at the highest level is a commodity that is scarce in the life of Lionel Messi. So, you know, if Barcelona can't be competitive for the next couple of years and Messi has lost respect for people running it and he's got options, why not use those options and why not see where else he can go and what else he can do?
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OK, it's nine fifty one this morning.
Our guest is Tim Vicary. And a reminder, of course, that TVM is live in association with Gillette. Good morning. Start with Gillette giving you the confidence to tackle the day ahead and tell me if you reckon that a couple of years early for him to go to South America. It was interesting. The story broke in Argentina through a journalist that he has broken stories with before. Is there any any rumblings in the press there about what the most likely outcome in terms of what Massey wants next year?
Well, the spokespeople are going big on the main city because of of two factors. One is Gladiola, the other is Sergio Aguayo. But I don't think anyone at the moment isn't saying that anyone really has an inside track. So the the ones that are being touted, I'm sure the same ones that are being touted with you, which is City United, Inter Milan and and Paris Saint-Germain. It doesn't feel like anybody else is a realistic contender at the moment.
It doesn't feel like the event is somehow enter into this by somehow uniting the two warring factions or by getting rid of Cristiano in the summer. And and maybe maybe if they sell Cristiano to Paris and all of a sudden a massive event, it seems like it's a possibility. But those seem like the most obvious ones. Committees at the Manchester United one, because I think that's kind of that has kind of come into people's consciousness quite late. Do you think that's realistic?
Well, it would be very exciting if if we're talking about Messi at this stage, needing to be surrounded by attacking Pace and United, have that in spades. Certainly. So in footballing terms, that may be the easiest fits, perhaps, you know, easier even than than the main city. And so what a what a move that would be for United, who all through their history, you know, since the days of Matt Busby have gone out of their way to to be a real glamour club, part of the mission of United Under, Under, Under Buzby was to was to add real color to a to a great hard working industrial town.
So it would be a signing which would really scream out that United are working in that tradition after a few years where where the bar has been lowered a little bit.
So I think that would that would be that will be very exciting. But whatever whatever's going to happen, it's going to be very exciting at the moment. You know, speculation time is wonderful. There's no sense that we've seen a little bit of what Massey looks like outside of Barcelona with his performances for Argentina, where, as you said, it takes so much responsibility on himself that sometimes the performance is damaged, that there's a potential for that to occur at another club level, or is that simply those performances aren't as good because the scenario there is so weighted against him?
You know, it's almost exactly 15 years since his international career started. I remember it well. It came on as a sub in a friendly against Hungary. It was instantly you just turned 18. You was instantly magnificent, you know, instantly on the ball and moving with the fluidity that we've we've come to love. And he was he was moving so well that he had a Hungarian defensive midfielder hanging onto him and he tried to get free and he swung an arm to get free.
And the Hungarian went down like a sack of potatoes and the referee reached for his red card. And Messing's international debut very harshly, actually lasted less than five minutes, which I suppose is the symbol for for 15 years of frustration with Argentina, because although he's won the Olympic title that the senior title has eluded him, it's very hard to see his international career as a failure. And he scored more goals for Argentina than anyone else. There have been some magnificent performances.
And if if you swap Maradona had had Burushaski, who writes the way to Marat Maradona's pass to score the winner in the 1996 World Cup final? Well, Messi has had Gonzalo Higuain because the three consecutive finals, the World Cup final in fourteen cop America finals in 15 and 16, Argentina lost them all narrowly. And every time the big chance fell to Higuain and every time it was blown. So you swap murujuga with Higuain and people will be thinking of Maxi's international career, I think in a very different light.
There have been some superb performances for for Argentina down the line and they probably wouldn't have qualified for the last World Cup without him. Those who over the years have seen him as a problem. I couldn't agree with that at all. For Argentina is so often it's been the solution for four, a team that have had lots of structural problems on who is the last great Argentine defender center, who's the last great Argentine goalkeeper.
But as we were saying earlier on, he can't change a country. But you can't you can change your club. So he can he's in a position now where he can he can look for a club where the playing style has a balance, where you can get the most out of him. And exactly for that reason, it's so exciting because he's proved time and time again, maybe not in some of the big finals and maybe in the big finals with Argentina.
He hasn't come up with that individual greatness. But again, you have to remember that these these these tournaments and this is the bane of the international tournament, they happen at the end of the season when players are low on gas. And Massie's, I think, been low on gas. I remember the World Cup 2014.
You watching him there at the end at the end of the long season. And there are a long passage of the game. I was in the stadium for some of Argentina's games where he's almost like wandering around the center circle with his head down, looking as if he just dropped his wedding ring or something, and then suddenly you'll burst into life because he was clearly rationing himself.
That's the problem with the end of season competition, having him during that during the entire season where a rich club will be able to arrest him if he wants to be arrested and he doesn't usually want to be arrested, he wants to play. But this is the exciting thing for for the club that gets him. You're going to get him during stage of the season when he's absolutely fit and absolutely firing on all cylinders. And what a wonderful prospect that is.
You ask who was the last great match, our last great Argentine goalkeeper, Sergio Romero, and know that they can team up, that they've got their position at Manchester United for a long and fruitful relationship there. And one last question, and this is probably gonna make you ponder quite a bit, but at what point do you start to feel that Lionel Messi will accept his decline or at what point do you think how many more years is he have at this level?
Because he is coming off a calendar year? This 2022 World Cup year has been mentioned quite a bit over the last few hours that he needs to stay at this level for just two more seasons. Do you go along with that?
Yeah, I think he's providing he stays fit.
I think he's probably got three or four because he he's so complete. You know, he's he's a player who he can lose pace and still and still be magnificent. There's a quote about him from his old teammate, four for club and country. Javier Mascherano, that, you know, the vast majority of players are controlled by the game, Messi controls the game and sometimes it looks as if he's not only playing, but he's watching for the best seat in the House because his capacity to analyze the opposition, to find space, to find the space where he can be most effective is is uncanny.
His range of passing is absolutely magnificent. So even if he can't burst through defenses with a with a with a little moments of acceleration that takes three or four defenders out of the game, he can still be superb.
Despite that, especially if he's surrounded with the kind of attacking pace that whichever club he plays for can give him. So in the right context, I think his is the range of his talents is so extraordinary that I think he can he can still have three, maybe four years at the highest level ahead of him.
Tim, good stuff. Thanks for joining us this morning. Cheers. My pleasure. Thank you, OTB.
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