For Messi, Rodrigo De Paul is the midfielder ready to take on the world.

Looking at the way De Paul is together with Messi, it can be said that if the whole world is against Messi, De Paul is ready to be against the whole world.


“I always worry about Leo, and I know that he worries about me too,” Rodrigo De Paul shared on the eve of the World Cup. “Off the pitch, we are close because we enjoy each other’s company. We are friends. And I have had many happy moments with my friend.”

Lionel Messi has long been an idol of the entire Argentine nation. The Flea is a symbol of hope. The superstar, an immortal legend, the unique genius with the ability to lead the Albiceleste to their third world championship. Everything revolves around him.”

In fact, one of the most exciting reasons for fans when the Albiceleste arrives in Qatar is the prospect of Argentina finally being able to pass the torch to Messi. The Copa América championship last year was like a claim and activated La Pulga.


“Leo had an impressive campaign in the Copa América,” added De Paul with his characteristic enthusiasm. “We looked at the stats via Instagram and he led in every aspect: assists, goals, free kick winners, dribbling, shots on goal.”

“On the morning of the Copa América final, when I met my teammate for the first time, I said to him: ‘You know, if we lose today at the Maracanã, this could be his last game.'” Everything inside of me was swirling. Not knowing if it was worry or fear, I kept pacing the room lost in my thoughts. And I saw him completely calm. ‘If he’s like this, then I should be calm too,’ I thought.

It can be said that De Paul has a responsibility to provide Messi with what this superstar wants more than any other player on the Argentine national team. The role of the midfielder, who currently represents Atlético Madrid for the Albiceleste, is simple and uncompromising: provide unwavering support for Messi.


Social media is abuzz with theories about De Paul playing the role of a “close protector” for Messi, someone who tactically and physically supports La Pulga. As in the past of his mentor Diego Simeone in the Argentine national team, De Paul is the “lord of darkness”, the “executor of justice”, with the only difference that this midfielder is always on Messi’s side.

Despite frequent misplaced passes and a drop in form during the season at Atlético, De Paul has been on the pitch every minute in Qatar.

“El Pequeno” (the little one – how De Paul refers to Messi) is a down-to-earth person,” laughed De Paul. “He feels like he’s in a place where he can just be Leo, not necessarily Messi. We get up very early and always drink mate (a traditional South American tea). We have a routine: Leo Papu (Gómez) and I start, then Fideo (Di María) appears, Lea (Paredes) and Gio (Lo Celso) follow, and then Nico Otamendi. If you get up earlier, you have to do something different. It’s always in that order.”

In the 2022 World Cup, De Paul takes his role as Messi’s “protector” to another level. Take the match against Australia as an example…

As the captain leads the team onto the field for warm-ups, De Paul follows close behind…


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