Lionel Messi’s attitude has been heavily questioned by Joe Cole following Barcelona’s humiliating 4-1 home defeat against Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday.
Barcelona, who have been somewhat in a crisis in recent times both on and off the pitch, endured another low on Tuesday after they were all-but knocked out of the Champions League at the last-16 stage.
Messi had put Barca, currently in a state of financial turmoil, ahead from the penalty spot in the 27th minute but things turned ugly moments later as Kylian Mbappe scored a hat-trick while Moise Kean also netted for the French giants.
The resounding defeat came as another sucker-punch to Messi, who almost sensationally departed the Nou Camp last summer after becoming disillusioned with life at Barcelona.
And following the final whistle, BT Sport pundit Cole slammed Messi for looking ‘disinterested’ throughout before claiming that Manchester City wouldn’t go anywhere near him on this evidence.
While dissecting Barcelona’s lacklustre performance, Cole told BT Sport: ‘Disinterested is the word. They had no power, no togetherness. There was no connection between the back four and the front three and in between it looked bitty.
Messi looked disinterested. It’s really hard for any ex-player to criticise him because he’s a genius and the greatest player I’ve seen play football but tonight he didn’t look like he was emotionally engaged in the game.
‘He’s a leader out there, so is (Gerard) Pique and so is (Sergio) Busquets. The spine of the team at Barcelona look weak and just fell to bits. 4-1 – it could have been five or six. It’s worrying times for Barcelona.’
City were Messi’s biggest suitors last summer as he looked to exit on a free transfer, but a move failed to materialise after Barcelona demanded that his £629million release clause was paid out.
And Former Chelsea and West Ham star Cole also claimed that it would be a ‘gamble’ for Pep Guardiola to land Messi – who has also been linked with PSG – next summer.
‘You’d have to do your due diligence before you sign Messi,’ Cole added. ‘He looked disinterested tonight.
‘The 34-year-old Messi, if he plays like that it will be a gamble. To take him into a club where Pep relies on energy, enthusiasm, togetherness.
‘It’s a mess at Barca, I don’t know how they’re going to sort it out. I can’t see Messi staying there.
‘It’s going to be tough for him to connect into one of these big teams because he’s going to have to roll back the clock and move like he did three or four years ago.’