Lionel Messi labelled a ‘cheat’ as England star told to copy Argentina World Cup talisman | Football | Sport

Bukayo Saka has been urged to copy Lionel Messi by ‘cheating’ during England’s World Cup quarter-final against France. The Arsenal winger has been one of the players of the tournament so far and will be crucial if the Three Lions are to progress in Saturday’s mammoth clash.

Saka has scored three goals in Qatar, two behind Kylian Mbappe, and he may have to help his right-flank team-mate Kyle Walker defend against the on-fire Frenchman at Al Bayt Stadium. However, former Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana wants him to mirror Argentina’s talisman with his off-the-ball demeanour.

In his latest column for The Times, he wrote: “Messi is fresher than anyone else and capable of weaving his magic. He may walk the most, but he is also taking in the most information. He could well be the cleverest player who has ever played the game.

“The implication tends to be that he is cutting corners with his team, whether that is Argentina or at club level with Paris Saint-Germain. You often hear people say, ‘This player cheats out of possession. He doesn’t defend properly’. Believe me, at Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp would want Mohamed Salah to ‘cheat’ when it came to the defensive side of their game.”

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Lallana believes Gareth Southgate will want Saka to ‘cheat’ like the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner against France to maintain an attacking threat on the break rather than doubling up with Walker to defend Mbappe.

England will be under the cosh for periods against Les Bleus, but Southgate will need his forwards to continue in their current vein.

“When it comes to assessing Bukayo Saka’s role against France, there will be times when Gareth Southgate will want him to ‘cheat’,” Lallana continued.

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“There has been so much focus on how to stop Kylian Mbappe, but England do not want Saka doubling up with right-back Kyle Walker every time the French attacker gets the ball. If he does that, then Saka is going to be too deep, and he is not going to be as effective on counter-attacks, which is one of his great strengths.”

Saka will have his own tough test to deal with down the right, battling France left-back Theo Hernandez.

If he can play a role in dumping the reigning champions out, he will be eyeing overtaking Mbappe in the Golden Boot race to make the ultimate statement in his debut World Cup campaign.

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