Former PSG footballer Jerome Rothen claims that following Argentina’s 2022 World Cup victory, Lionel Messi underwent a personality transformation.
Before the 2026 World Cup qualifying match at Maracana Stadium on November 22, there was a brawl between Argentinean and Brazilian fans in the stands. Messi and his teammates entered the locker room following the fruitless recovery, which resulted in a roughly 30-minute delay in the start of the game. Home striker Rodrygo called him a coward once he returned.
After calling his opponent a “little boy” and emphasizing that Argentina is the current world champion, Messi promptly reversed himself.
Asked about this incident, on channel RMC Sport yesterday, Rothen commented: “The Argentinian players were provocative before. The initiator was the number one star in their team, Lionel Messi. Now, he boasts of being the world champion, but Messi won that feat thanks to a lot of rest since moving to PSG two years ago”.
Messi (left) argues with Rodrygo before the match between Brazil and Argentina. Photo: Reuters
Nicolas Otamendi scored the game’s lone goal for Argentina, which won 1-0. Messi did not make much of an impression because Marquinhos and Gabriel Magalhaes, the home midfield tandem, trailed him closely until the 78th minute. Messi clarified after the game that he had guided his teammates into the locker room to defuse the tension, believing that this would help them focus during the game.
“Messi used to have a nice image, but now it’s changed because his true personality has appeared. Now it’s difficult to touch Messi. Every time he was touched, he used the same phrase as Rodrygo: ‘Hey, I’m the world champion’. The team reflects the image of the Argentine people. Argentines are always like that, only satisfied when they are better than others. They should act more classy”, Rothen added.
Rothen has frequently chastised Messi. The former France player said in March that Messi frequently disappears during crucial games. Following that, he concluded that Messi was not as dedicated to PSG as he had been at Barcelona and had not demonstrated the same level of resolve to defend the national team. At one point, Rothen even went so far as to criticize Karim Benzema for complimenting Messi’s performance while wearing a PSG shirt.
This time, Rothen also believes that Messi does not deserve to win the 2023 Golden Ball. He said: “It is clearly a shame to give that title to Messi. For me, Haaland is worthy. From August 2022 to June 2023, what criteria makes Messi more appreciated than other players? Basically no. If talking about titles, Messi is behind Haaland even when winning the World Cup. Haaland won everything with Man City and of course, you cannot compare based on the World Cup, because Haaland is Norwegian”.