Ex-Barcelona captain Carles Puyol has revealed the confidence shattering effect that the world's best player can have on a defender, telling a Catalan newspaper about a training session that left him feeling so humiliated he asked for it to be stopped.
The World Cup winner spoke to La Vanguardia about a one-on-one training drill he took part in during the Pep Guardiola era when he was tasked with trying to beat Lionel Messi, on his own:
"I told myself: 'I'm going to see if I can stop him'. It was humiliating. Pep told me: 'Carles, don't injure him'. 'If you don't want anything to happen, stop the session', I told him. I tried everything but he always got past me at his own pace".
The unfortunate Puyol is one of a long line of footballers to have discovered that trying to injure Messi isn't enough to stop him, with the Argentinian regularly making some of the best players, and James Milner, look idiotic in the process of evading a challenge.
It is little wonder that so many opponents resort to fouling as a desperate way to prevent Messi from scoring, as the Argentina captain has discovered in the Copa America 2015. Defenders seem to be getting away with it too, having secured the services of Sunday League quality refereeing for the tournament.
Messi said: "I asked [the referee] about a couple of incidents and he said 'This is South America and this is how the game is played here'. I guess they [referees] call the shots on the pitch and they choose what to allow".
Messi's talent is so well known now that it has actually transcended football and lent itself to hostage negotiations, as one Argentinian scientist has discovered.
Santiago Lopez Menendez claims he was kidnapped while working in Nigeria, with the armed men responsible for his abduction apparently convinced that he was American.
With the language barrier proving difficult, Menendez resorted to simply shouting "Messi! Messi! Messi", thus identifying himself as a South American and warming the hearts of his armed captors, who forgot whatever it was they were fighting about in the first place and eventually set him free.
Oddly, in similar but fictional scenes, an English I.T consultant has learned the hard way that repeating the name "Diego Fuser" to armed terrorists only results in said player turning up at your house to take a selfie. He's just delighted that you remember who he is.