How do you stop ‘best player in the world’ Lionel Messi? Inter Miami’s MLS rivals FC Cincinnati respond to ‘silly’ question ahead of U.S. Open Cup semi-finals

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Lionel Messi is “the best player in the world” and there is no answer to the “silly” question of how to stop him, says FC Cincinnati’s head coach.

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  • Argentine has made a stunning impact in the States
  • Helped to deliver historic Leagues Cup triumph
  • Sights set on more collective & individual honours

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    The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner has taken the American game by storm since completing a stunning move to the United States as a free agent. Messi hit 10 goals through just seven appearances for Inter Miami as they landed a historic first piece of major silverware – and a 44th trophy for their mercurial Argentine playmaker – in the inaugural Leagues Cup.



    Messi is now readying himself for another shot at glory in the U.S. Open Cup, with Cincinnati next up in the semi-finals of that competition, and Pat Noonan admits it would be foolish to try and come up with a plan to try and contain the all-time great. He has said: “It'll be a tough test. There are people out there with opinions about ‘do your man mark Sergio Busquets and cut off service?’ Okay but now other players are free and they can hurt you. Everybody's trying to find solutions to stop a really good team and nobody's been able to do it. The reality is, in terms of Messi, not many have been able to do that at the highest level of this game for the last two decades. For us to think we’re just going to have the answer, it's silly. He's still playing at a very high level and fresh off a World Cup title.”


    Noonan added on the impact that Messi has made at Inter Miami: “They hadn't won in 11 league games prior to his arrival. Now they haven't lost a game. There's a reason that the best player in the world, or one of the best players in the world, changes the dynamic from professionalism to the on-field quality and everything else. He just makes players around him better. You see guys like [Miami’s Robert] Taylor, all of a sudden a lot of these guys play with a different level of confidence and you're seeing the best version of them. And it’s not just Messi. Add the quality of Busquets and [Jordi] Alba. And [former Atlanta United coach] Tata Martino – so now you have a coach with experience who's won things not only internationally but specifically in our league.”



    Messi’s exploits for club and country across the last 12 months have put him in contention for another Ballon d’Or triumph, with the 36-year-old proving to be as talismanic as ever as he remains in the hunt for more collective and individual prizes.