At least, that’s what they should call him.
Manchester City’s Yaya Toure told The Mirror in an interview that Lionel Messi has a habit of predetermining who he is going to ‘nutmeg’ in any given match-up and letting them know beforehand in the dressing rooms.
Toure goes on to give us an inside tour of Messi’s mind games,
“We played against [Barça] in the last Champions League. In fact, we’ve played against them in the last two seasons. Last year in the dressing room he told me he was going to nutmeg me. He’d done that before, say he was going to do it to one guy or another.”
“I saw him nutmeg two of my team-mates and was so scared he’d do it to me. Whenever he came near me I screamed inside ‘please not me, don’t nutmeg me’. I was afraid he’d embarrass me in front of my family.”
But where does the term ‘nutmeg’ come from? While the term is up for debate, Peter Saddon who wrote Football Talk – The Language and Folklore of the World’s Greatest Game suggests that the term comes from the unscrupulous practice of the nutmeg traders. Historically nutmeg was an expensive commodity so clever merchants would throw wooden balls into the nutmeg pouches in order to cover the weight of the missing nutmegs and fool the buyer.
The nutmeg is also known simply as ‘megging’ or in European and Latin countries they use the word ‘panna’ and is always seen as a sign of dominance or disrespect. A way for a player to clearly set himself apart from the crowd in terms of skill and caliber.
Yaya Toure has no disagreements with Pele on Messi’s status. The Manchester City forward says that Messi has a natural genius on the pitch that can’t be taught. Toure even acknowledges that while Cristiano Ronaldo is an extremely hard worker, he doesn’t have the same unbelievable fundamentals as Messi–
and he doesn’t single out opposing players like trophies during the pre-match.