Lionel Messi's tactical understanding surprises Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli

David Cooper 12/05/2018
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Footballing legend: Lionel Messi.

Argentina’s World Cup ambitions rest heavily on the shoulders of Barcelona legend Lionel Messi, who is still searching for his first piece of major silverware with his country.

The 30-year-old has been part of White and Sky Blues sides that have finished runners-up on three occasions in the Copa America (2007, 2014 and 2016) and of course he was the mainstay during the 2014 World Cup final loss to Germany.

Although, it’s worth reminding that Messi was named the FIFA Best Player of the Tournament in Brazil.

This time around, the nation will again rely on Messi to produce the goods and coach Jorge Sampaoli – who took charge in June 2017 – has been pleasantly taken aback by the maestro’s tactical influence and understanding.

“We were very surprised by what Messi knows about football (a lot),” the 58-year-old said of the Blaugrana icon, as reported by El Pais.

He added: “The first time you come to see him, you’re nervous, you do not know what you’re going to find, but he likes to talk about football and he understands the game very well. We asked him about Jordi Alba’s season, because we wanted Tagliafico to make similar movements. And when we expected him to tell us: ‘Well, there’s no Neymar and he has more spaces’, he jumped us with a tactical recital, if Iniesta does this, if Busquets the other … it’s a show (and so on).”

Argentina face Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria in World Cup Group D.

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Barcelona star Lionel Messi wins EU court battle over surname trademark

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Blaugrana legend Lionel Messi.

Barcelona footballer Lionel Messi won a legal battle on Thursday to register his name as a trademark to sell sports goods after an EU court ruled that he is too famous to be confused with other businesses.

The Argentine star, the world’s highest earning footballer, rode out a challenge by a Spanish cycling gear manufacturer called Massi, which had challenged his trademark on the grounds that it was too similar to its own.

“Lionel Messi may register his trademark ‘MESSI’ for sports equipment and clothing,” said a ruling by the General Court of the European Union, the bloc’s second-highest court.

“The football player’s fame counteracts the visual and phonetic similarities between his trade mark and the trade mark ‘MASSI’ belonging to a Spanish company,” the Luxembourg-based court said.

The ruling caps a seven-year legal fight since the footballer first tried in 2011 to trademark his name with the EU’s intellectual property office.

The boss of the Massi cycling goods company filed an appeal the same year, saying there was a “likelihood of confusion” with its own trademark, and the trademark office agreed.

Judges admitted that the trademarks “are very similar phonetically” but said the IPO was wrong to assume that Messi was only known by people who were interested in football or sport.

“Mr Messi is, in fact, a well-known public figure who can be seen on television and who is regularly discussed on television or on the radio,” the court said.

The ruling comes days after it emerged that Messi has overtaken Cristiano Ronaldo as the highest earner in world football, according to France Football magazine.

The Barcelona attacker is making €126m in salary, bonuses and commercial revenue for the current season while his great Real Madrid rival is making €94m.

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Lionel Messi pips Cristiano Ronaldo as highest earner while Jose Mourinho tops managers' list

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Lionel Messi has overtaken Cristiano Ronaldo as the highest earner in world football while Jose Mourinho tops the managers’ chart, according to France Football magazine.

The Barcelona attacker is a long way ahead in the figures for the current season, pulling in €126 million in salary, bonuses and commercial revenue while his great Real Madrid rival is making €94m. Last season ‘CR7’ led with €87.5m with Messi on €76.5m.

That works out at €25,000 per minute pitch time this season for Messi in La Liga, the Champions League, the Spanish Cup and Supercup and four international appearances for Argentina this season, and assuming he plays all of Barcelona’s five remaining games.

The two players who have split the last 10 Ballons d’Or are followed by Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian star Neymar on €81.5m in the calculations to be published by France Football on Tuesday and released to AFP Monday.

There is a big gap to Ronaldo’s Real teammate Gareth Bale on 44mn euros and Barca defender Gerard Pique on €29m.

Among coaches, Manchester United’s Mourinho remains the biggest earner with €26m.

Next comes China boss Marcello Lippi on €23m, followed by Diego Simeone at Atletico Madrid, Zinedine Zidane, who has won the last two Champions League titles at Real and Pep Guardiola, who has just led Manchester City to the English Premier League.

Top 5 player earners (gross wages, bonuses and commercial revenue in the 2017-2018 season):

1. Lionel Messi (ARG/Barcelona): €126m

2. Cristiano Ronaldo (POR/Real Madrid: €94m,

3. Neymar (BRA/Paris Saint-Germain): €81.5m,

4. Gareth Bale (WAL/Real Madrid): €44m,

5. Gerard Pique (ESP/Barcelona): €29m

Top 5 coaches (gross wages, bonuses and commercial revenue in the 2017-2018 season):

1. Jose Mourinho (POR/Manchester United): €26m,

2. Marcello Lippi (ITA/China): €23m,

3. Diego Simeone (ARG/Atletico Madrid): €22m,

4. Zinedine Zidane (FRA/Real Madrid): €21m,

5. Pep Guardiola (ESP/Manchester City): €20m

Provided by AFP Sport

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