Lionel Messi’s father says the Argentina captain is exhausted

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Lionel Messi is used to facing criticism when he pulls on the Argentina shirt, often being accused of not being able to replicate his Barcelona form when playing for his country.

He must have thought he’d finally escaped these critics. After all, it was through Messi — almost single-handedly — that Argentina made it through to the knockout stages. It was Messi’s pass that set up Ángel di María for the late winner against Switzerland, putting the albiceleste into the quarterfinals.

But in the last two rounds, Messi has failed to score or assist. So naturally, the critics are back. And they’re likely taking their toll on the No. 10, wearing him down.

After a recent conversation with his son, Messi’s father Jorge told Brazilian newspaper Folha de S.Paulo that he is suffering from extreme fatigue. “Leo said it looked like his legs weighed 100 kilos. He was very tired,” he said.

Someone should ask Messi whether his shoulders ache as well. After all, the slight forward is carrying not just his team, but the weight of a country’s expectations. Should Argentina fail to win on Sunday night, much of the blame will be piled on him.

However, should Messi be lifting the trophy at the end of all this, past criticism will be forgotten. He will truly be an Argentine hero, capable of taking his place alongside Diego Maradona. At that point, you can bet that he’ll forget all about the weight of his legs or how exhausted he felt going into the final match.

Report: USMNT’s Arriola drawing transfer interest abroad, in MLS

AP Photo/LM Otero
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Paul Arriola’s motor was constantly running as the United States men’s national team claimed its sixth Gold Cup title, and it could drive him all the way from Club Tijuana to Europe or a prime spot on an MLS roster.

There’s a snag, though.

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Arriola is reportedly wanted by Real Salt Lake and clubs in both the Netherlands and Portugal, but the LA Galaxy has what Goal.com describes a “dubious homegrown player” claim on Arriola, who participated in a minimal of practices with the Galaxy when he was younger.

As you’ll see below, there isn’t much “homegrown” about it and, to its critics, it is peak MLS monopolized tomfoolery. Here’s how Goal describes it:

“He was already a U.S. youth national team player when he traveled the 120 miles from Chula Vista to take part in a handful of training sessions with the LA Galaxy academy and eventually the Galaxy first team.

“The Galaxy are believed to hold a homegrown player claim on Arriola, and would have the right of first refusal on making Arriola an offer if he comes to MLS. The Galaxy’s current salary-cap situation might not allow them to make a serious bid for Arriola.”

But… here’s how the Galaxy described his choosing to sign for TJ instead of a pro deal from LA in 2013:

“It’s a little disappointing,” Galaxy technical director Jovan Kirovski told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Friday. “He went through our system, we offered him a contract and he decided to move on and go somewhere else. But that’s going to happen. It’s something that has happened before, and it’s something that will happen again.”

Arriola’s response in the same article? “I thank the Galaxy for giving me a wonderful opportunity to train with their first team and be a part of their first team which really taught me a lot.” That doesn’t read as much like he “went through their system.” He played in at least one U-18 game, debuting in October 2012, did more training with TJ in December 2012, and signed for the Mexican side in May 2013.

Should that qualify him as Homegrown?

https://www.transfermarkt.com/paul-arriola/leistungsdaten/spieler/189876

Did Arriola spent significant time with LA, or is it possible the Galaxy might reap rewards from having an already established youth national teamer to practice when he was a kid? Whether you’re okay with that or not, consider that it encourages clubs to pilfer rights without actually registering or training the player.

Not to mention there is no guarantee that playing in the Netherlands or Portugal will be better for his development than MLS. Benfica or Ajax and potential action in European tournaments? Maybe. NAC Breda or Tondela? Maybe not.

Nevermind the quagmire that is American youth soccer clubs’ not earning money from transfer fees, the Arriola drama seems baseless. We don’t know the Galaxy will hold the player hostage, but they would actually be depriving MLS of a talent, as LA would theoretically get nothing should TJ sell him to a European club.

In any event, check out Arriola’s use chart from Tijuana and you’ll see why he’s valued by Bruce Arena as well as his suitors. He’s a Swiss Army Knife. Here’s hoping Tinseltown doesn’t stop him from a proper next step (assuming he’s ready to leave Liga MX).