Martin Odegaard said the Norway women's team "deserves better" in scathing criticism aimed at Ballon d'Or-winning striker Ada Hegerberg following her decision not to play at the Women's World Cup.
Hegerberg has not represented Norway for the last two years and explained her reasons for not making herself available for the tournament in France, saying her experience at the 2017 European Championship left her "broken mentally" while also describing it as “deeply depressing” as she criticised the state of women's football in Norway.
She described how playing for her country had left her feeling like "a worse player" but Real Madrid midfielder Odegaard fired Hegerberg a broadside in a message on Instagram.
"Maybe you could find something better to do than to disturb the preparations of the national team for the World Cup," said Odegaard, who spent last season on load at Vitesse.
"They have qualified on behalf of our country, one of the most important things that a soccer player can experience, and they have already received enough negative pressure.
"It's not the time. The team deserves something better."
Norway became the first nation in world football to pay their male and female players equally in the aftermath of Hegerberg's withdrawal.
The 23-year-old won 66 caps for her country after making her debut in 2011 and scored 38 goals, and was also the first female to win the Norwegian Gold Ball in 20 years when she was handed the award in January 2016.
In her absence, Martin Sjogren's side got off to a superb start at the World Cup, beating Nigeria 3-0 courtesy of goals from Guro Reiten, Lisa-Marie Utland and Osinachi Ohale.
Sjogren praised the link-up play between Reiten and Caroline Hansen in his assessment of the game as he hailed his team's ability to challenge for the World Cup without Hegerberg.
"We have these players we have, and we've worked so hard as a group to grow stronger every time we meet," said Sjogren.
"Caroline and Guro have been very good for us for a long time so I am not surprised these two made such a great performance."