Lionel Messi could not handle life in the English Premier League as he is not cut out for the “intensity,” unlike Cristiano Ronaldo – that’s according to former Arsenal and Barcelona midfielder Emmanuel Petit.
Rumors were rife last week that Messi could quit Spain after the Barcelona icon was involved in a public spat with sporting director Eric Abidal.
That put clubs on red alert across the continent – not least in England, where the likes of Manchester City were said to be monitoring the situation with a view to potentially swooping for the star number 10 in the summer.
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But French World Cup winner Petit – who won the Premier League with Arsenal and also had spells at Chelsea and Barcelona – has claimed the six-time Ballon d’Or winner couldn’t hack it in England.
“Honestly, I don’t think he’s suited to the intensity of England,” Petit said, The Mirror reported.
“He doesn’t like being closed down and being fought. In Spain, he’s protected.
“It would be a pleasure for English fans to see him but I don’t see why a club like Manchester City , for example, would move for Messi at [age] 32 or 33.”
“If City wanted to buy him, they should have tried to do it a couple of years ago,” the Frenchman added, in comments likely to raise more than a few eyebrows.
Messi’s great generational rival Cristiano Ronaldo emerged as a global superstar at Manchester United, winning his first Ballon d’Or and also a host of club titles.
Petit, who won the World Cup with France in 1998, said that Ronaldo’s physique meant he has more durability than Messi.
“Messi is not Cristiano Ronaldo. Physically, he’s not the same machine.
“Ronaldo is a monster but, at 32, Messi has only one or two more years playing at the highest level.
“Even playing alongside great players at Barca, he won’t have the same pace or the dribbling ability,” Petit claimed.
While talk was rife that Messi could quit the Nou Camp in the summer, one man not talking up the chances of the diminutive Argentine ace heading to England is Man City boss Pep Guardiola.
Guardiola, who enjoyed a trophy-laden spell with Messi while manager of Barca, said that he hopes the Argentine sees out his career with the Catalan club.
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There were also reports on Friday that despite the row with Abidal, Messi is intent on staying at Barcelona – thus dashing the hopes that he could one day be seen outside of the Spanish club he has played at since age 12.