The Messi debate

Armstrong says Barca need a Plan B if they are to move forward

Last Updated: 16/05/12 10:14am

Gerry Armstrong hailed Lionel Messi's record-breaking season - but fears Barcelona have become too dependent on him.

"Everybody wants to see Messi play. He's had a brilliant season as an individual, but the team has not functioned as well because they depend on him too much."

Gerry Armstrong

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The Argentinean superstar scored 50 La Liga goals on the way to securing the European Golden Boot and his tally of 72 goals in all competitions broke Gerd Muller's record for the most for any player at a top-flight European club in a single campaign.

But while he paid tribute to those incredible achievements, Revista de La Liga expert Armstrong reckons Barcelona must try to take some pressure of him and share the goals around in the future.

"His role is unbelievable," he said.

"Basically he's doing everything at the moment. He's scoring the goals and I think the responsibility of him scoring the goals alone is going to put so much pressure on him next season.

"That's why we feel they need to have a Plan B or a Plan C - and they need to have that.

"He's been unfortunate in the sense that David Villa has been injured and they've certainly missed his goals. Pedro was another one, who was a 20-goal-a-season man and he's been out injured and lost a bit of form as well.

"But Messi has been unbelievable. To score 72 goals, I can't underestimate how fantastic he's been.

"Everybody wants to see Messi play. He's had a brilliant season as an individual, but the team has not functioned as well because they depend on him too much."

Dynamics

Messi was rarely rested by Pep Guardiola this season and Armstrong feels he should have been substituted more often to protect him.

However, fellow Revista expert Graham Hunter disagreed, arguing that the Barca coach was right to keep his star man happy by playing him regularly.

"I think we've established that he's a guy that loves to play," Hunter said.

"I think we've established that the dynamics between him and the manager are a little-bit different than between most manager-player relationships.

"But there's also an explanation as to why Pep Guardiola might be gently opposed to putting Leo Messi's nose out of joint.

"Is he refusing to do that? I think that's too strong. He's a good pro.

"I haven't seen any reason this season for Guardiola to change how he uses Messi - but it's right to predict that maybe in the future you can't continue like that all the time."