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Messi should move to a defensive midfielder role to extend his career - Kilbane

Lionel Messi has the skill set to be a holding midfielder for a top team in Europe instead of going to the MLS.



Former Republic of Ireland footballer Kevin Kilbane joined Joe Molloy on The Football Show to discuss Lionel Messi.

Lionel Messi is playing in his last World Cup.

It's his last chance to win the only tournament that has eluded him throughout his career. Messi is in the final stages of his career. He will either move to the USA or take more of a backseat in Europe over the next year or two. Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland are the next generation taking over.

But if Messi stays in Europe he won't be irrelevant. He's still one of the best players on the planet and on his day he can take over games as effectively as anyone else. This is not a Cristiano Ronaldo situation where none of the top teams in Europe want him anymore.

Messi has had to adapt his playing style. He can no longer run in behind defences as much as he did previously. He picks the ball up deeper and deeper to connect play as a passer more than run at defences like he did in the past.

While he's dropping into deeper positions, he's primarily doing so from the #10 position. Kevin Kilbane thinks he can drop into a deeper position as a permanent role.

"He probably recognizes that he might not have enough in the legs [to lead the line for 90 minutes]," Kilbane said.

"He's unbelievably strong. You can still see players bouncing off him, you can still see that he runs faster with the ball than without it actually. He was put through there tonight and he was trying to build up a head of steam, but the Polish defender just came back and took the ball off him.

"He's obviously not as dynamic as he once was. That's fair to say. But there is still that buzz whenever he touches the ball. Messi still has that bit of skill, that bit of magic, he hardly gave the ball away tonight...in terms of keeping the ball and his recognition of space around him, taking the ball under pressure, always one or two-touch passing, I don't think there's anyone better.

"There's talk of him coming over to the MLS and he'll be playing for Miami for the next few years. But he could play as a holding midfielder in some of the top sides. He could go back to Barcelona and do a Xavi role for another 3-4 years.

"I can imagine him playing that role and never giving the ball away."

Messi will be fully focused on the World Cup for the next few weeks, but it's certainly an option to consider from January.

Jack Byrne is better than he realizes - Joseph NDo.

 

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