LIONEL Messi's hopes of being crowned the best player at the 2010 World Cup could be dashed by the exhaustion of a taxing European season, according to the man responsible for keeping the team in shape.
"He has arrived at the World Cup tired, the damage is already done and it's irreversible," Argentina's fitness coach Fernando Signorini said in an interview by sport.es.
Signorini, Diego Maradona's personal fitness coach for most of his playing career in Europe, said too much was being expected of the young forward, who turns 23 in two weeks.
"(The organisers) worry about the doping controls but not if players play 70 matches a year," he said this week after an early morning visit by anti-doping testers to Argentina's University of Pretoria camp.
Fans and media have seen little of the diminutive Barcelona ace in the past four weeks, although he has been involved in Argentina's practices during the two weeks the squad have been in South Africa.
Having missed Argentina's 5-0 win over Canada in their last warm-up 17 days ago due to a knee injury, Messi's last match was in La Liga on May 16. He last played for Argentina against Germany in Munich on March 3.
Signorini said: "Messi is almost a miracle of genetics because in a single movement he makes six or seven (movements). It's his calling to be one of the best (players) in history and surely at the next World Cup he'll be better because to his talent he will add experience."
Daniel Arcucci, co-writer of Maradona's autobiography Yo, el Diego (I, Diego), echoed this sentiment when he said: "(Messi) has the qualities to be the best. but it could be in 2014 and not now."
Messi said: "To win the World Cup would not compare with anything." He asked, however, not to be singled out, saying: "No one wins alone and I'm not going to win a World Cup alone." - Reuters