Thursday , 9 February 2023

Argentina goalkeeper reignites Mbappe feud with baby doll taunt next to Messi

Emiliano Martinez taunts Kylian Mbappe with baby doll next to Lionel Messi – TWITTER

Lionel Messi watched on as Emiliano Martinez held a doll with Kylian Mbappe’s face on it during Argentina’s World Cup victory homecoming parade.

Argentina goalkeeper, Martinez was pictured cradling the toy baby – complete with nappy, with Mbappe’s face stuck onto the head – on an open-top bus parade in Buenos Aires on Tuesday.

The goalkeeper had raised eyebrows when he performed a lewd gesture in the seconds after collecting the Golden Glove trophy at the World Cup final presentation on Sunday. He later claimed it was a response to French jeering.

His latest act is likely to increase tensions between Argentina and France and Messi’s presence, as a team-mate of Mbappe’s at Paris Saint-Germain, raises questions for when the pair return to club duty in the French capital next month.

Argentina goalkeeper reignites Mbappe feud with baby doll taunt next to Messi
Emiliano Martinez reignites Kylian Mbappe feud with baby doll taunt next to Lionel Messi – GETTY IMAGES

Mbappe, who scored a hat-trick in the final and yet still ended up losing, was the subject of another swipe from the Argentine players in the immediate aftermath of the final in Doha. They marked their win by holding a “moment’s silence” for the forward in the dressing room after the game.

Further celebrations saw a staff member dive head-first into a bin and Argentine players singing about “f—ing journalists” in the media area at the Lusail Stadium.

Martinez has become a focal point for some of the more questionable behaviour in the past 48 hours. He was hailed as a hero for his role in the shoot-out, which came after the game ended 3-3 in normal time.

The Aston Villa goalkeeper saved one penalty from Kingsley Coman and had an influential impact in a second being missed. He was pictured throwing the ball away when Aurelien Tchouameni had been expecting it to be returned to him. The France midfielder subsequently put his penalty wide.

Martinez then shocked millions of TV viewers when he held the goalkeeper trophy, a giant gold-plated hand, to his groin and waved it around on the podium. He later said he “did it because the French booed me. Pride doesn’t work with me.”

Argentina’s victory parade in their capital city would go on to be abandoned due to safety fears, with players being evacuated in helicopters.

Analysis: Messi and Mbappe may not be team-mates for much longer

By Jason Burt, Chief Football Correspondent

The futures of Messi and Mbappé are yet to be decided. Neither will go anywhere before the summer, but both have made it clear that they want to see how PSG’s latest attempt to win the Champions League plays out before deciding whether they will stay.

Pity Christophe Galtier, the PSG head coach who must now manage the reintegration of the two superstars – and their third, Neymar, whose World Cup ended in bitter disappointment in the quarter-final against Croatia – when the club’s next Ligue 1 fixture comes around on December 28, at home to Strasbourg.

Messi’s World Cup triumph will certainly hurt Mbappe, who is rightly regarded as the best player in the world at present and whose ambition burns brightly. But there has never previously been lasting animosity between the two players. They are not friends in the way that Mbappé is close to Achraf Hakimi, not least because there is a 12-year age gap, but there is respect and mutual admiration. Neymar, who is 30, is far closer to Messi than Mbappé is – as was evidenced in his exclusive interview with Telegraph Sport  – and given their history at Barcelona that is no surprise.

Mbappé and Messi are not buddies, but neither is there any hostility. There is a far cooler relationship between Mbappé and Neymar, who were close, with the temperature having dropped further after Mbappé signed his new contract last May.

That caused consternation in Spain, where Real Madrid had convinced themselves he was joining them on a free transfer. PSG maintain they were always sure he would stay.

There have been outlandish claims of the level of control Mbappé now has at PSG, but it is fair to state that he is the most influential player at the club – just as he is with France. At the same time PSG are well aware that this, finally, might be his last season with them and having secured him on a new deal, up until 2025, they are prepared to sell if he wants to go and they receive an appropriate offer.

What would that be? One senior PSG source told Telegraph Sport: “If people realise how valuable Kylian is today then they will realise how important he is for the club.

“With Kylian it is huge. The value of Kylian? €300-350million. They [Madrid] offered more than us and he chose. That’s the biggest statement. He chose here and it was not about money.”

But it might be next year. PSG are relaxed about that, especially after the crisis in October when Mbappé made it clear he wanted to leave in the January window because, at that time, he felt his relationship with the club had broken down.

Sources close to Mbappé claimed promises made to him had not been kept, primarily the intention to sign a No 9 so that he would not have to play as a central striker, which became evident with his infamous “pivot gang” post on Instagram.

That led to tension with Neymar and sources claimed Mbappé regretted signing his new contract. It has calmed down since then, with PSG believing it was a cry for help.

Argentina goalkeeper reignites Mbappe feud with baby doll taunt next to Messi
Mbappe and Messi playing for PSG – FRANCK FIFE/GETTY

The situation with Messi is also clear for PSG. They, and sources close to the Argentine, emphatically reject reports that he will agree a deal to join Inter Miami at the end of this season.

When the claims were made last month PSG even double-checked with Messi’s camp and were assured that he was solely focused on the World Cup and that, as he had told them in talks before the tournament, he would be willing to stay another season in Paris if the conditions are right. There is already an option for him to do so.

It may also depend on how PSG fare in the Champions League, although Messi has told the club that he enjoys working under Galtier and they are reasonably confident he will remain. At the very least they are emphatic he has not decided his future.

Inter Miami, who are part-owned by David Beckham, have made no secret of wanting to sign Messi. Beckham also has close links with the Qataris, having played for PSG, and worked as an £150 million ambassador, controversially, during the World Cup. The Qataris would be surprised if a deal has been done behind their backs with Messi.

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