Wes Brown has faced the mercurial Argentine in the past and warned the Red Devils that they will have to be at their best in the Champions League
Manchester United have been advised on how to avoid falling into Lionel Messi’s “trap”, by former defender Wes Brown.
The 39-year-old is fully aware of just how difficult the Barcelona talisman can be to contain having faced him in the 2008 Champions League semi-finals.
Eleven years on, the Red Devils are set to face the mercurial Argentine in Europe’s elite competition on Wednesday, at the quarter-final stage.
Other former United players such as Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke have urged the Red Devils not to waste too much energy focusing on Messi and place greater emphasis on their own collective showing.
Brown, though, has sought to shed some light on how best to tackle the threat posed by a five-time Ballon d’Or winner, with the former United defender having been charged with that task in the past.
“You do realise, watching Messi, that one thing you can’t do is dive in. His ball control is unbelievable. A joke,” Brown, who faced Barcelona in the Champions League semi-finals back in 2008, told United’s official website in their latest ‘Unscripted’ feature.
Click Here: IQOS White
“Listen, with players like that, you’re not going to stop them being them, you just have to limit them and try to get them to focus on something else. Frustrate them. You have to.
“Out on the pitch, Messi doesn’t show any emotion. I’m probably quite like him in that sense. I don’t want anyone to know what I’m thinking in my head.
“So, because that’s what I do, I’m pretty sure that’s how he is inside as well. Emotional inside. Focused. He wants to prove to everyone that he’s the best. Just because he’s not showing it doesn’t mean he’s not thinking it on the inside.”
Expanding further on how United sought to limit the impact of Messi, Brown said: “People might say: ‘just send him down the right.’
“Ok, send him down the right. It doesn’t matter because his start speed is unbelievable with the ball. There aren’t many faster with the ball. Small dribbles. So fast.
“As soon as you dive in or you’re not quite there, he’s gone past you but he’s still got control of the ball. He’s cut in and he’s gone.
“The way he runs, his angles, he can run at speed, change direction at speed, little turns. He’s the best at it.
“As much as you’ve got a voice in your head saying ‘don’t dive in,’ you’ve got another voice saying: ‘you can have that.’
“You can’t. It’s a trap. So you have to listen to that first voice and just stay on your feet.”
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be looking to heed that advice as he pieces together his plans for the crunch clash with Barcelona, in which United will seek to build on the European foundations they put down when securing a stunning 3-1 victory over Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16.