Former England star: ‘Saka should “cheat” against France, as Messi does’
A former England star says Bukayo Saka must “trick” like Lionel Messi for the Three Lions to beat France. Gareth Southgate’s side face Les Bleus in the World Cup quarter-finals on Saturday.
Much of the talk ahead of the super game has been how Kyle Walker should stop Kylian Mbappe. However, Adam Lallana believes Arsenal striker Saka has an equally important role to play and he believes he can be put to good use by being allowed to “cheat” like Argentina legend Messi.
Writing in The Times, the former England ace said: “If it looks like Messi is doing nothing and leaving everything to his team-mates, then that ignores the fact that he is constantly looking, scanning and taking pictures of the pitch in his head his.
“Then when he gets the ball, Messi is fresher than anyone else and able to weave his magic. He can walk the most, but he’s also getting more information. He might be the smartest player ever ever played this game.
“However, when people mention him, the implication tends to be that he’s not giving his best with his team, whether it’s with Argentina or at club level with Paris Saint-Germain. You often hear people say: ‘This player cheats when the team doesn’t has the ball. He doesn’t defend properly.'”
The 34-year-old continued: “There’s been a lot of focus on how to stop Kylian Mbappe, but England shouldn’t be looking to Saka to help Kyle Walker every time Mbappe gets the ball.
“If he does that, then Saka will be too far back and he won’t be as effective on the counter-attack, which is one of his strengths. I don’t see England being troubled by their opponents and so Saka will once again have a key role to play at both ends of the pitch.
“What has stood out to me is his calmness in the England shirt. He seems like that person anyway. For example, he’s not too aggressive in his body language when he’s fouled.
“He must be so strong because he never loses the ball in one-on-ones. Then he passes it at the right time. I don’t understand how he is like that at 21 years old.”
Saka has already scored three goals in the World Cup. He scored a brace in the group’s opening 6-2 win over Iran before adding another in a 3-0 triumph over Senegal in the last 16 to secure a quarter-final against the French.