The Barcelona forward will be going in search of global glory again with Argentina this summer, with a Real Madrid icon among the interested observers
Lionel Messi will be hoping to end his international woes with Argentina this summer, with Roberto Carlos rubbing salt into the wounds of a Barcelona icon by pointing out that if he was Brazilian “he would be a world champion” by now.
A man who has collected a remarkable haul of club honours at Camp Nou, along with five Ballons d’Or, is still waiting on a first senior success with his country.
Final heartache has been endured at the World Cup and Copa America, with an inability to get over the line leading the 30-year-old to briefly slip into international retirement at one stage as he struggled to cope with crushed dreams and unfair criticism.
Messi is, however, back in the mix at Russia 2018 and will be desperate to get his hands on the top prize and enhance his standing as an all-time great.
It remains to be seen whether his presence can inspire Argentina to global glory, with a Real Madrid legend of the opinion that the 30-year-old would have already completed his medal collection had he been born across the border in a different South American nation.
Roberto Carlos, who won the World Cup with Brazil in 2002, told TyC Sports: “If Messi were Brazilian, he would be a world champion.”
Brazil have not managed to claim the global crown during Messi’s international career to date, with his bow made in 2005.
The Selecao reached the quarter-finals at the 2006 and 2010 events, before finishing fourth on home soil in 2014.
They are among the favourites to go all the way in Russia, with Tite boasting a star-studded squad which includes the likes of Neymar, Philippe Coutinho, Willian, Gabriel Jesus and Douglas Costa.
Brazil will be looking to their star turns to guide them towards a sixth World Cup crown, with Neymar in particular considered to be their talisman.
Roberto Carlos would appear to agree with that, with the Paris Saint-Germain forward part of an elite collection of talent that the legendary full-back would have liked the opportunity to play alongside.
Messi also makes that list, while it is no surprise to find that a former Madrid stalwart considers an iconic figure currently turning out at the Santiago Bernabeu to be the finest player on the planet.
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Quizzed on who he would have welcomed the opportunity to work with, Carlos said: “With Neymar, with Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
“Cristiano is the best for me.”
Ronaldo is also in Russia this summer, with the 33-year-old looking to provide the spark for Euro 2016 winners Portugal on a World Cup stage.