The modern player he adores, predictably enough, is Lionel Messi. “He plays like a child in a playground, unaffected by tactics, teammates or opponents.” But Messi would not, he believes, be as great as he is if it weren’t for Pep Guardiola “who does not try to confine his talent but gives Messi all the space he can express it.”
And that, in a nutshell, is what Baggio would like more coaches to do: “One should never denigrate talent, as happens far too often at grassroots, when young players are told off for trying a backheel or some clever dribbling.
“For me, football has always been about trying something difficult, truly inventive or an action that will be truly remembered. I’ve never really been satisfied by the easily scored goal.”
That vision of football, he feels, has been undermined because “modern football is increasingly dominated by the coaches, their narcissism, their tendency to put themselves above the team and their players.”