Argentina captain Lionel Messi did not find his peak form at the Russia World Cup as the Albiceleste crashed at the Round of 16 stage of the competition following a 4-3 defeat against France.
Kylian Mbappe was the star of the show, bagging two goals and also forcing a penalty from Marcos Rojo. France midfield and defence had kept a sharp eye on Messi all game and the Argentine still managed to provide two assists but did not find his goal-scoring form as Argentina crashed out.
French midfielder Paul Pogba however heaped praise on the genius playmaker despite media’s focus on his failure.
“It’s been more than 10 years since he became the best player in the world,” the Manchester United man said.
“He’s unique, he’s a unique size, what he does with the ball in unique, he’s a pure left-footer. He’ll always be an idol.
“I lost the 2015 Champions League final with Juventus against him and I’m happy to have beaten him today.”
Pogba also said that in the minds of fans, footballers and journalists, Messi will always be there despite there being the possibility that this was probably his last appearance at a World Cup. Pogba wanted Messi to continue to show his magic because players like him make people fall in love with football.
“Players like that, they make you love football,” he said. “I think he’s going to continue to be the best for many years and it’ll always be a pleasure to see him play.
“He must be sad. It could be his last World Cup, but he’ll remain in the heads of each football fan, each journalist, each person in the entire world forever,” he concluded.
Messi, who had retired once from international football before making a return has so far avoided talking to the press following the defeat against France.
Midfielders Lucas Biglia and Javier Mascherano have both announced their retirement following the defeat.