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Quotes of the Week

The football world goes wild over Lionel Messi, while Sir Alex Ferguson has gone all Basil Fawlty.

Who's been saying what in a sporting week of verbal sparring

A week in which Lionel Messi cemented his reputation as the world's finest player has predictably been dominated by the football fraternity waxing lyrical over the diminutive Argentine. Arsene Wenger has called him 'Play Station', which is presumably hip French slang for jolly good, while team-mate Thierry Henry has described him as 'a dog'. Elsewhere, Sir Alex Ferguson threatened to steal Messi's thunder when he did his best Basil Fawlty impression after Manchester United's elimination to Bayern Munich. Perhaps we should just be grateful he didn't mention the war... "I believe we lost against a team that is better than us and that has the best player in the world. Once he's on the run, Messi is unstoppable. He's the only player who can change direction at such a pace." Arsene Wenger excuses his side's defeat to Barcelona on the grounds of Lionel Messi's genius. "We were beaten by a brilliant player and a brilliant team in general. You have to try to anticipate what he's going to do, but it's so difficult because he can do what he wants." Manuel Almunia in a magnanimous mood despite being beaten by the Argentine four times. "You do not have to be nervous or look at individual players. You have to be focused on your own performance and the team's performance. You cannot look at how great Messi is, because you have to play your own game." Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen pre-match. "He was very good today and it was difficult for us to defend because he knows where the space is and they came off from midfield. It was really difficult against so many spaces. If you give him too much room then you're in trouble." Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen post-match. "Leo floats over the field - sometimes you have the sensation he's not even there, that he's hiding. But he's there and the rival knows it." Netherlands and Barcelona great Johan Cruyff waxes lyrical over the Camp Nou talisman. "Messi is out of this planet, I would say he is so far ahead of the rest of the players playing right now and I would say historically as well. There are not words to describe him." Ossie Ardiles puts Messi ahead of Diego Maradona in his all-time greats list. "You have to take your hat off to him because he is a player who makes the difference. Our weapons will be to stay focused and show the maximum possible respect to Barcelona." Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos ahead of Saturday's mouth-watering El Clasico. "Leo is on another level completely from every other player in the world, in a different class. If you are lucky you might find a player like this coming along once every quarter of a century." Barcelona playmaker Xavi pays tribute to his team-mate. "What I did isn't so important but the performance of the team as a whole is what counted." Messi matches his brilliance with his modesty. "He's PlayStation." Wouldn't have had Wenger down as a gamer. "To call him PlayStation, as Mr Wenger did, is a great definition. I don't know what level he'd be at, though - three or even four." Pep Guardiola admits he's usually Barcelona on Pro Evolution. "As with any great player he is a dog, he can't lose. During training-sessions if his team loses 2-1, he gets the ball, dribbles everyone and scores, and we start a gain from scratch." Thierry Henry reveals Messi's secret - he's got four legs... "There was no threat and the referee wasn't going to do anything about it until they surrounded him. It is typical of Germans. They are like that." Sir Alex was typically magnanimous in defeat on Wednesday night. "I am going to get drunk tonight." Gianfranco Zola cracks open the Blue Nun after West Ham grabbed a late point at Everton. Continuing the theme, Alan Pardew described Southampton's win over Leyton Orient as: "More a pale ale performance than champagne." "He is a brilliant man, an unbelievable character. For the Cup final, I took them out before and we all went to an Italian restaurant. Hermann got on the karaoke and brought out the best Elvis Presley suit, the white one with the big shoulders. Hermann's voice is diabolical, but the actions are fantastic.'' Harry Redknapp pays tribute to Hermann 'Hound Dog' Hreidarsson. "When I come to the training ground I always try to make everyone happy at Arsenal. I am happy if you are happy. That's why I have said that after my career I will become an actor." Emmanuel Eboue reiterates his plans for after retirement. "It's a bit like watching your mother-in-law drive over a cliff in your brand new car. There are mixed emotions.'' Bradford Bulls coach Steve McNamara does his best Les Dawson impression after watching his side surrender a lead against Leeds Rhinos.

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