Lionel Messi needs ‘to block out the negativity from everyone’ heading into the Copa America, according to former Brazil and Manchester United midfielder Kleberson.
Argentina superstar Messi has endured multiple final defeats at international level and took a break from the national team after last summer’s World Cup last-16 defeat by France.
The Barcelona forward returned to the fold earlier this year and has been named in Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni’s squad for the upcoming Copa America, with Kleberson offering some advice to Messi ahead of the tournament in Brazil.
“Messi needs to block out the negativity from everyone,” Kleberson told us-bookies.com. “People expect him to play the same way playing for Argentina as he does when he plays for Barcelona.
“He needs to be play with freedom, his fellow team-mates need to work hard to win the ball back and find Messi so he can have the ball at his feet.”
Himself a former team-mate of ex-Barcelona man Ronaldinho, Kleberson can understand how to bring out the best from a talented compatriot for the overall good of the side.
“I remember when I played with Ronaldinho,” he continued. “I said to him ‘do not worry about defending, that is my job. I will get you the ball and you do the rest’; I knew he had the ability and the creativity to win us the game.”
Brazil are the favourites to win the Copa America on home soil, but Kleberson does not believe Tite’s current squad compares with the quality of the 2002 World Cup-winning team he was part of.
“They have some amazing players in this team now,” admitted Kleberson. “But, if you saw some of the players in 2002, you would have thought ‘wow’.
“When I was playing in 2002 and looked at the substitutes’ bench, I saw some brilliant young players.
“They have good players now but if you are comparing the squad then and now, the team in 2002 was outstanding. I do not think any players could get into that team.”
One area where Brazil are not short of quality is in the goalkeeping department, with Kleberson having a preference for Liverpool’s Alisson over Manchester City’s Ederson after the pair both enjoyed stellar seasons at club level.
“It’s a tough one to choose between Alisson and Ederson,” he confessed. “Both are coming off from a strong season and have had good moments.
“Ederson is a solid keeper but Alisson has risen to the big occasions this season. For me, Alisson is just the better goalkeeper but there is not much between them.”