Louis Van Gaal has hit out on Barcelona and Argentine talisman Lionel Messi, claiming he’s to blame for Barca’s Champions League failures.
The former Blaugrana boss believes his successors have given the forward too much freedom at Camp Nou, prioritising Messi’s individual talents over the team.
It’s been four years since Lionel Messi and Barcelona last featured in a Champions League final, having won the competition last on 2015.
In the past two seasons, Ernesto Valverade has been comprehensively beaten in the UCL, despite having a three goal difference against Roma, and most recently, against eventual winners Liverpool.
Van Gaal strongly believes that the failure is down to a single factor: Messi, revealing that individualistic prowess does not guarantee trophies.
“I believe that there is nothing more important than the team player,” Van Gaal said in an interview with El Pais.
“Barca suffer from that. I think Messi should ask himself how it is possible that he’s gone so long without winning a Champions League.
“Look at Barcelona. How many Champions Leagues have they won with the one everybody says is the best player in the world? Look at Neymar at PSG. How many Champions Leagues has he won?
“He’s the best individual player in the world because his stats are amazing. But why hasn’t he won a Champions League for five years?
“As captain, you have to ask yourself why the team doesn’t win in Europe. I think that Messi is also responsible for what is happening at Barcelona, not just the coach.
“They have a squad of 30 players and I believe that Messi should adapt himself to the team, and not the other way around.”
According to Van Gaal, who won back-to-back Liga titles in his first spell in charge of Barcelona in 1997. Pep Guardiola is the only manager to have managed Lionel Messi in the right way, revealing that ‘team spirit is the most important thing.’
He added: “Guardiola made him play to the benefit of the team but the last few coaches have adapted too much to Messi instead of protecting team spirit. Team spirit is the most important thing.
“Messi adjusted to Guardiola’s plan, not the other way around.”