Scholes: Bored Barcelona and Messi are a ghost of their former selves

The ex-England international feels that the Argentine and his colleagues no longer have the same drive and determination that made them world-beaters under Pep Guardiola

Scholes: Bored Barcelona and Messi are a ghost of their former selves

Former Manchester United ace Paul Scholes believes that Barcelona are a “ghost” of the side they were, claiming that Lionel Messi and his team-mates are suffering from “boredom”.

The Catalans won three consecutive Liga titles, two Copa del Rey crowns, two Champions Leagues and two Fifa Club World Cups during a glorious four-year spell between 2008 and 2012 under former coach Pep Guardiola.

Barca failed to claim a single major honour last season, though, and are now finding their feet under new boss Luis Enrique.

Scholes went to watch the Blaugrana in person at the Mestalla last weekend and was distinctly unimpressed by the attitude of Messi and his colleagues during a 1-0 win that came courtesy of a last-minute goal from Sergio Busquets.

“For much of the game I felt they were a ghost of the side they had once been,” the former England international wrote in The Independent.

“They still pass the ball relentlessly, but that old drive and tempo are not nearly as urgent. The breathtaking speed and penetration have gone…

“When I try to find a way of summarising the attitude of the team, and of some longer-serving individuals, I keep alighting on the word “bored”.

“It is not meant to sound flippant, but it just seems the most accurate way to describe the way the team seem to treat the style of football that once made them the best side on the planet…

“As for Messi, his achievements put him in a different category to the rest of us who played the game. But even so, in him, as much as anyone, I detected that mood of boredom.

“He has never been a player given to chasing the full-back when his team lose the ball, but now, more than ever, he keeps his movement to an absolute minimum.”

Scholes added that he doubts whether Luis Enrique will be able to get Messi and his team-mates back playing at their brilliant best.

“For a young manager like him, it will be hard to change the way Messi, and the rest of the stars in this team, play the game,” he argued.

“They have won it all. They have conquered the world. Now Enrique has to find a way of persuading them to do it all over again, on his terms.

“You could see him on the touchline trying, and largely failing, to get them to play with greater urgency.”

Scholes was a part of the Manchester United sides beaten by Guardiola’s all-conquering Barcelona in the 2009 and 2011 Champions League finals.

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