De Jong in the dark on how to stop Messi as Netherlands prepare for Argentina
Frenkie de Jong says he has no inside track on how to stop his former Barcelona team-mate Lionel Messi, as the Netherlands and Argentina prepare to meet in the World Cup.
The two sides will square off in the quarter-finals at Qatar 2022, with Louis van Gaal's Oranje having beaten the United States and Lionel Scaloni's Albiceleste having felled Australia.
With three goals so far this tournament - and in likely his last visit to the World Cup - Messi has netted three goals and ignited an otherwise hit-and-miss Argentina side.
As the forward pursues the biggest honour to elude him across his trophy-laden career, Netherlands fans might have hoped De Jong would know how to stop his ex-colleague, but the Dutchman says that is not the case.
"No," he told ESPN. "I know him, but I don't know how to stop him. He's been making the difference for 15 years and there is not one way to stop him.
"Usually he would still make the difference during training too. We just have to stop him as a team.
Asked if he had spoken to Messi since their clash was confirmed, De Jong added: "We haven't texted each other. I am not planning to. We will see each other on Friday."
Having joined Barcelona in 2019, De Jong was a member of the Barca team that claimed the 2020-21 Copa del Rey alongside Messi, with both scoring in the final.
The latter was on hand when Argentina beat the Netherlands in the 2014 World Cup semi-finals, before they were downed by Germany in the final, and De Jong is determined to ensure there is no repeat.
"Argentina is of course a top team," he added. "But so are we. It will be a very good match, but I am confident. I think they look at us the same way. It's a 50-50 encounter."