A criticism often levelled at Lionel Messi by Cristiano Ronaldo fans is that the Barcelona man has not branched out to show he can perform at other clubs and leagues, but Hugo Gatti has taken that idea to an extreme—that Messi should join Real Madrid.
The former Argentina and Boca Juniors goalkeeper said Messi must move to the Santiago Bernabeu and perform in the biggest matches to prove he belongs in the pantheon of footballing greats alongside Ronaldo, Pele, Johan Cruyff and Diego Maradona.
Gatti suggested on TV show El Chiringuito de Jugones (h/t Goal's Sean Wilson) that Messi is yet to perform "in the big games," and added:
"He has to have balls to go to Real Madrid and prove everything there like Cristiano. Otherwise he will be just one more [player].
"Cristiano went to the best club in the world. Messi plays at home, on his pitch with everything [that comes with that in terms of home comforts].
"Let him perform in the Champions League and the World Cup, otherwise he will always be one more [player]. When he performs there, he will fight with [Johan] Cruyff, [Diego] Maradona and Pele.
"Messi performs when they let him perform. It's very easy to perform with everything in your favour at home."
Messi joined Barcelona at the age of 13 and has spent his entire career at the Camp Nou.
While Gatti may have a point that everything at Barcelona has been built around getting the best out of him, it's a remarkable take given just how good he has been.
Now 32, the forward has produced an astonishing number of goals and assists over the course of his career:
He contributed two of each on Tuesday in a 5-1 win for Barca against Real Valladolid:
The Spanish Football Podcast and Robbie Dunne of AS were in awe of the Argentinian:
The Spanish Football Podcast @tsf_podcast
Messi tonight. Two goals: one stunning free kick, one sensational control & finish (for many players, the best goal they ever scored). Two assists: inch-perfect passes for Vidal and Suárez. AND *that* nutmeg. One of the great, awe-inspiring, gasp-inducing Messi performances.
After Messi made Valladolid's Oscar Plano his latest nutmeg victim during the game, La Liga paid tribute to him with a selection of his dribbling highlights over the years:
He's helped Barca win 10 La Liga titles, four UEFA Champions Leagues and six Copas del Rey, among other honours.
Gatti's assertion that Messi hasn't proved himself in big games doesn't hold up, either.
On top of his 26 goals and 14 assists in 41 meetings with Real Madrid, Messi has 113 goals in the Champions League, including two in the final of the competition. Only Ronaldo (127) has more in the Champions League.
He's yet to win an international trophy with Argentina, but he's the country's record goalscorer with 68 in 135 appearances.
Although the team weren't able to get over the line, Messi played a key role in getting La Albiceleste to the 2014 FIFA World Cup final and the finals of the 2015 and 2016 Copas America.
Messi has stated his intention to retire at Barcelona, so it's unlikely he'll make a late move to a new club as Ronaldo did from Real to Juventus. Even if he did, souring his legacy at the Camp Nou by joining their biggest rivals would be even more fanciful.