De Paul reveals Messi World Cup promise after Argentina midfielder's quarter-final injury blow
- De Paul got injured before the quarter-final
- Suffered a grade 1 muscle strain
- Messi advised him to rest
WHAT HAPPENED? The Argentine midfielder feared that his 2022 World Cup journey was over after he got injured two days before their quarter-final against the Netherlands. Tests revealed that it was a grade-one muscle strain, which put his participation in doubt. De Paul sought Messi's advice as he considered playing through the pain, but the Argentina captain told him to sit out the match and vowed that he would make sure the team progressed to the semi-final.
WHAT THEY SAID: The Atletico Madrid star has told Fox Sports: "I went to Messi’s room and he tells me, ‘don’t play, we’re going to get through the quarterfinals.’ It could have been the last game that I played in a World Cup, if in four years I still don’t get called.
"He told me, ‘I promise I’ll take you to the semi-finals but don’t risk that you’ll most likely be left out’.
"I didn’t know whether to contradict him. It’s very difficult because he doesn’t tell me as a captain, but as a friend or older brother."
THE BIGGER PICTURE: De Paul did start the game but went off in the 66th minute in order to avoid aggravating the injury with Argentina leading 1-0. Less than 10 minutes later, Messi doubled their lead, but a late cameo from Wout Weghorst ensured that the Dutch battled back to level terms. However, Argentina held their nerves in the penalty shootout to edge the tie and went on to win the tournament after seeing off Croatia and France respectively in the last four and final.
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WHAT NEXT FOR DE PAUL & MESSI? The midfielder continues to flourish at club level with Atletico and should be back in action against Celta Vigo on Sunday. Messi, meanwhile, has the responsibility to fire Paris Saint-Germain to the quarter-finals of the Coupe de France with a win over eternal rivals Marseille in the absence of Kylian Mbappe and Neymar.