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Lionel Messi may be a six-time Ballon d’Or winner and an all-time great but Claudio Caniggia has accused his fellow Argentine of lacking leadership and struggling in adversity.
His exploits have seen the history books re-written, with 634 goals recorded at club level and a further 70 for his country.
Messi has been a talismanic presence for Barca and the Albiceleste, helping those at Camp Nou to an enviable collection of major honours – including 10 La Liga titles and four Champions League crowns.
He is still waiting on a first senior title with Argentina, but the Copa America and 2022 World Cup are set to present him with opportunities to right that wrong.
Caniggia, though, has suggested that the 33-year-old may struggle to drag others along with him.
The former Argentina international claims Messi’s focus and impact dips when he realises that his opposition are better than the side that he is representing.
The South American cut a frustrated figure as Barca stumbled their way over the line in 2019-20, with a humbling 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals of the Champions League proving to be the final straw as he aired a desire to move on.
Caniggia told Canal 26 of an iconic countryman: “Maybe Messi lacks leadership, when his team is not the better side, he falls.
“Messi takes responsibility and it's clear he has character, I don't know what might have happened there at Barca but what I always say is that for him it's hard, he suffers when he sees his team is not better than the other side.
“When he goes on the pitch and sees his team is not superior, that it won't be so easy to win, he doesn't feel good. He struggles in adversity.”
Messi has shelved any exit thoughts at Camp Nou for now, with his plans to stay put revealed in an exclusive interview with Goal, and Caniggia believes a parting of ways in Catalunya was never on the cards.
He added: “Messi was badly advised, they told him he could go for free.
“It seems his lawyers let the tortoise escape. It was obvious that he was not going to leave Barca.”