By Andres Roman
Real Zaragoza's Franco Zuculini has labelled Lionel Messi “unique”, arguing that any game against Barcelona is effectively over once the diminutive forward starts playing.
The once-capped Argentina international has lined up twice against his compatriot since joining Zaragoza, initially on loan, from Hoffenheim two years ago.
In both instances, Zuculini felt that he and his team-mates were performing well but that Messi ultimately proved impossible to contain.
“The first time we played them, we were winning, but then we collected a red card and they thrashed us," the defensive midfielder told Goal.com.
“In the match at Camp Nou, they went ahead but we tied the score. However, with 10 minutes to go... Well, it was over as soon as Messi started doing what he wanted.
“The boys did not know whether to hit him or not. And I told them not to do that because it would only makes things worse if he gets mad - that he would score another three goals against us. You have do something that puts him to sleep, not wakes him up.
“I swear that the two matches were like that, he did whatever he wanted. I'm sure if he tells a team-mate that he will score in the 23rd minute, he succeeds. He is unique.”
Despite having failed to come out on the winning side against Barcelona, Zuculini insists that he relished both meetings with the Catalans.
“It's incredible, it’s something you can enjoy," the 22-year-old explained. "And it's just as nice to play against Madrid. Those two teams, they play another championship to the rest of us.”
While la Liga sometimes seems like a two-horse race, Zuculini claims that he is currently enjoying life in Spain, after previous stints in Italy and Germany. However, he freely admits that he would love to test himself in England.
“I have played in three of the most important leagues in the world,” he mused. “The only one I have left that I have watched from my childhood is the Premier League. I really like it.
“And I'm going to put as a goal, to do everything I can to be in the Premier League at some point.”
Zuculini, who earned his only international cap against Panama four years ago, has previously lined out for Racing Club, Hoffenheim and Genoa.