Asprilla: Referees give Messi too much protection

The former Serie A star is not impressed with the level of modern football and has rallied against the high wages paid to players these days
Faustino Asprilla believes referees give Barcelona forward Lionel Messi too much protection on the pitch.

The former Colombia international is of the opinion that life was much harder for attackers during his playing days due to the quality of defenders, as well as match officials' tendency to let play continue wherever possible.

"When I still played, forwards did not get as much protection from referees. If someone fouls Messi now, people all over the world start crying and complaining," Asprilla told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"I don't remember anyone complaining when defenders had a go at me, Gabriel Batistuta or Marco van Basten. 

"Life's much easier for attackers these days. There are no defenders like Franco Baresi and Pietro Vierchowod around. I still have nightmares about them."

Asprilla then went on to voice his opinion that wages are too high in modern football as he feels only a few players really merit excessive salaries.

"Of course, I earned good money, but nowhere near as much as players get now," the 43-year-old explained. "Nowadays even a flop earns per month what someone like Van Basten got in a year.

"And I don't exactly see many players of Van Basten's level around ..."

Asprilla wore the jerseys of clubs such as Parma, Newcastle United, Palmeiras and Fluminense during his active career.