'Magicians need a stage' - Menotti misses young Messi

"Magician" Lionel Messi enjoyed a better Barcelona stage alongside Ronaldinho, says World Cup-winning Argentina coach Cesar Luis Menotti.

Former Argentina coach Cesar Luis Menotti claims Lionel Messi lacks a proper stage compared to his early days in the Barcelona first team.

Messi made his Barca debut in 2003 and rose to fame under Dutch coach Frank Rijkaard, playing alongside Brazil star Ronaldinho as the Blaugrana won LaLiga in 2004-05, before retaining the title and capturing the Champions League the following season.  

The forward has since gone from strength to strength, becoming arguably the best player in the world and helping Barca to more success under the likes of Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique.

Nevertheless, Menotti, Argentina's 1978 World Cup-winning coach, has suggested he holds fonder memories of Messi's explosive emergence onto the scene more than a decade ago.

"I like the Messi who was forged under Rijkaard, surrounded by Xavi, [Andres] Iniesta and Ronaldinho, when he was still growing up," he told TyC Sports.

"He is a magical player, but magicians need a stage."

Messi and Argentina face Colombia in World Cup qualifying on Tuesday, while Barca's next match is at home to Malaga in LaLiga on Saturday.