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Lionel Messi

'If you whistle Messi, who are you going to applaud?' - Ronaldinho can't comprehend criticisms of PSG star

11:15 GMT+4 31/03/2022
LIONEL MESSI PSG
The legendary Brazilian believes “the best in the world” will come good in France and is also looking for Neymar to prove his worth

Ronaldinho has added his voice to those questioning Paris Saint-Germain supporters for their booing of Lionel Messi, with the legendary Brazilian – who spent time in France during his playing days before helping an Argentine icon to break through at Barcelona – saying: “If you whistle the best in the world, who are you going to applaud?”

A man that was on the books at Camp Nou when a now seven-time Ballon d’Or winner was bursting onto a senior stage is among those to have been watching on from afar this season as an all-time great has struggled to live up to expectations outside of Catalunya.

Messi has registered just seven goals for PSG and was unable to help them end a long wait for Champions League glory in 2022, after suffering a last-16 defeat to Real Madrid in that competition, with jeers being aimed in his direction as a result.

What has been said?

Ronaldinho, who spent two years at Parc des Princes before moving to Spain in 2003, has told AS: “It’s difficult for Messi because he arrived after many years playing a completely different kind of football at a club that has always played the same way.

“He just lacks adaptation, but the rest will come naturally. It’s normal. He just needs time.

“I don’t understand [the boos]. If you whistle Messi, there’s nothing left! If you whistle the best in the world, who are you going to applaud? I don’t get it.”

What about Neymar?

While Messi is yet to win over a demanding fan base in the French capital, the same can be said for fellow South American, Neymar.

The Brazil international committed to a new long-term contract with PSG in 2021, but he has also become a target for terrace taunts after seeing regular spells out of action through injury limit his contribution to a collective cause.

Ronaldinho added on his fellow countryman: “I think it's not a Messi problem or a Neymar problem. The fans were not happy about not being able to win the Champions League.

“The two biggest names at PSG are Neymar and Messi, so it's normal that they were a bit stronger against them. But I think the fans are unhappy with all the players, not just those two. But it is football and, in a while, normality will return.

I hope that next season Neymar doesn't get injured and the rest is normal. Every year he wins something, in the national team or at PSG. Well, the Champions League not yet. But I hope that with Messi's adaptation the three of them [along with Kylian Mbappe] can write a great story.”

Will Mbappe stay?

Questions have been asked of how long Messi and Neymar will be sticking around in Paris, despite being under contract, while French superstar Mbappe continues to head towards free agency.

The World Cup-winning forward has been heavily linked with Real Madrid and Barcelona, but fresh terms are not being ruled out for a talented 23-year-old that appears destined to become the best player on the planet.

Ronaldinho said when asked if he sees Mbappe signing a new contract: “Yes, I think he will stay. But hey, with football, a lot of things can happen quickly… But, the three of them together can do something beautiful.

“I do not advise anyone. I want to see all my friends happy, everywhere. But if all three stayed, it would be fantastic for anyone who loves football. The three best players in the world together is what all football lovers want to see.”

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