Former Barcelona full-back Dani Alves rose to Lionel Messi’s defence and named the true cause behind their humiliating Champions League exit to Liverpool.
Despite winning the first leg 3-0 at home, Barcelona were clearly second-best to Liverpool on Tuesday at Anfield and went crashing out of the semi-finals following a 4-0 thrashing.
The Reds also successfully detained Messi throughout the entire 90 minutes. Fabinho even later revealed how they laid their lives on the ground to stop the five-time Ballon d’Or winner.
After this unsettling setback, Blaugrana boss Ernesto Valverde’s future has been called into question. While the club’s decision to fork out millions on big name signings instead of nurturing talent from their famed La Masia academy has also been criticised.
“When I see stories about how Barca are now buying players to market them, you can sense that they are changing their philosophy a bit,” Alves told ESPN.
“Barca were about developing players.
“They didn’t change their style, they signed players for specific positions. Now the feeling is they make too many moves on the market. But I also think that criticism is opportunistic.
“It’s easy to lecture after elimination. You know Barca still like to take care of the ball and make good passes. It doesn’t matter who comes in or who leaves, that’s their identity.”
Lionel Messi is untouchable
On the other hand, Messi’s below-par performance at Liverpool has also got critics on his back. Ex-Barcelona striker Ronaldo Nazario even urged critics to ensure he doesn’t escape from the blame.
But Alves rose to Barcelona’s most famous academy graduate’s defence, who continues to perform at his abnormally high levels at nearly 32 years old.
“I still think the one untouchable person in football is Leo [Messi] because of what he brings to the game,” said Alves.
“Even if things don’t turn out well, Leo’s always fine. But this is a team sport and everyone has his responsibility.
“Cristiano [Ronaldo], Leo and Neymar get the cover when things go well for their teams, but they also have to be on the cover when things don’t go well.”
Messi has managed 48 goals and 22 assists in 47 appearances for Barcelona this season.
Valverde’s side will take on Getafe in their penultimate La Liga game at Camp Nou this evening. Kick-off will begin at 18:30 (CET).