Real Madrid legend Roberto Carlos believes Lionel Messi's Johan Cruyff-inspired penalty would have been condemned as "disrespectful" had a Los Blancos player done the same and believes Neymar is content in Barcelona.
According to a Tuesday report by Spanish publication Marca, he gave radio station Cadena SER his take on Messi's penalty, in which he tapped the ball to Luis Suarez rather than go for a goal himself: "If we'd taken Messi's penalty at the Bernabeu it would have been [portrayed as] disrespectful."
On Neymar, he said: "Let's leave Neymar in peace. He's happy where he is and we have really good players."
Los Blancos have recently been linked with a move for the Brazilian as they reportedly want the 24-year-old to follow in the footsteps of Luis Figo, who famously swapped the Camp Nou for the Bernabeu in 2000, per Pete Jenson of MailOnline.
As for Messi's penalty, many did in fact describe it as "disrespectful," including beIN Sports' Andy Kerr and football commentator Dan O'Hagan:
Messi just passed a penalty to Suarez, who completes his hat trick. Is that a little bit disrespectful? Either way #fcb now 4-1 up v Celta— Andy Kerr (@AndyKerrtv) February 14, 2016
We all love Messi, but isn't this just a little disrespectful of the opposition, and the competition? https://t.co/87e2HXYerc— Dan O'Hagan (@danohagan) February 15, 2016
That said, just as many, if not more, saw no problem with the move or enjoyed the act, including football writer Andrew Gaffney and Spanish football expert Sergi Dominguez:
There’s no lack of respect, just a team wanting to score more goals. Messi’s flaw is penalty-taking but he’s pretty good at laying them off.— Andrew Gaffney (@GaffneyVLC) February 14, 2016
Messi pays tribute to Cruyff with that penalty. Wow.— Sergi Domínguez (@FutbolSergi) February 14, 2016
Indeed, even Celta Vigo manager Eduardo Berizzo—whose side the penalty was scored against—had no problem with it, per football journalist Dermot Corrigan:
Celta coach Berizzo in press conference on Messi to Suarez penalty "It was just taken a different way, nothing else."— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) February 14, 2016
Meanwhile, Carlos also gave his take on Real Madrid making the Bernabeu unavailable to host the Copa del Rey final between Barca and Sevilla—thereby preventing the Blaugrana from potentially claiming the trophy on their rival's turf: "I wouldn't let them use the Bernabeu for the Spanish Cup final. There are plenty of stadiums in Spain which could host the final. Why the Bernabeu? In 2004 Barcelona refused to let us use their ground for our final against Zaragoza."
Football journalist Richard Martin revealed Real's plan for the Bernabeu on the night of the final:
Real Madrid don't want to see Barca lift Copa del Rey at Bernabeu. So what do they do? Host a Bruce Springsteen concert that night.— Richard Martin (@rich9908) February 16, 2016
Carlos also claimed Real are a better team than Barcelona on the whole. He said: "People only talk about three players at Barca, whilst they talk about a team of players at Real Madrid."
The Catalan giants' attacking trio of Messi, Suarez and Neymar do indeed attract many of the plaudits aimed at their team. Gaffney believes they will lead Barca to La Liga glory once again provided they stay fit:
The only way Barça don’t clear up again this season is if they lose 2 out of the 3 main guys to injury. Best forward line in football.— Andrew Gaffney (@GaffneyVLC) February 14, 2016
However, the Blaugrana naturally boast talent around their team—something they demonstrated in El Clasico in November, when they comprehensively outplayed Real at the Bernabeu in every department and ran out 4-0 winners.
Carlos' comments are to be expected given his Real Madrid connections, and Los Blancos' squad certainly contains some of the world's top footballing talent. But Barca's unrivalled success in recent years has shown time and again they're an outstanding unit and not just reliant on individual talent.