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Criticism of his performances is unjustified, according to the stopper...

Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes has told a press conference that team-mate Lionel Messi "deserves more respect" after the Argentine forward received criticism at home for his performances for the Albiceleste.

Valdes said that more people should recognise the effort and sacrifice Messi makes to play for his country, and added that the player is professional enough not to let the criticism affect him going into Wednesday's crucial qualifier against Uruguay in Montevideo.

"Surprisingly with a player of his [Messi's] quality and standard, the best in the world, we see this. More people should recognise the merit and the sacrifices he makes, and we must bear in mind what he gives. In his country he deserves more respect than what he is given," Valdes said at a news conference.

"Messi will concentrate on sporting matters, because he wants Argentina to go to the World Cup. He is a very good player and has the soul of a leader."

Valdes went on to say that Barcelona will be supporting their star player on Wednesday, and he hopes they progress to the finals.

He added, "From here we give all of our support, and hopefully his country qualifies for the finals."

Paul Madden,