Lionel Messi deserves the utmost respect from football fans in France, according to Christian Karembeu.
Paris Saint-Germain fans mocked Messi and Neymar during a Ligue 1 match against Bordeaux following the Champions League defeat to Real Madrid.
The Argentine star has scored nine goals and conceded 13 assistants in 32 games in all competitions for PSG – a spectacular comeback following his arrival in Barcelona.
A total of 22 goals is his worst result since the 2006-07 season, which was his second full campaign at the highest level.
Messi’s numbers would have been higher, as the 34-year-old has been denied a record 10 times in Ligue 1 alone.
Karembeu, who won the World Cup and the European Championship with France while playing, thinks Messi should be given the undisputed leadership position at PSG to help him thrive.
“When Messi plays anywhere he goes, everything is always full. It’s like this in France,” he told Super Deportivo Radio.
“He’s a great player, but he also attracts the French league. Messi is more than a player. We have a lot of respect for this guy in France, because he attracts people. It’s very important.
“You can’t call Messi because he is a star. It is the fans’ fault because if the crowd gives him love he will end up bright.
“It would not have been easy for him to leave Barcelona, which I would say depends on the coach but for me Messi should be appointed as the team leader at PSG.
“If PSG allows him to lead, direct and take care of the team, they will always win. But they have to let him be the leader.
“Messi should be the one to lead the way in showing his football. We saw 20 years in Barcelona, so it will not change.
“He has to be the captain because he knows his role very well. Messi is a witch and we have to stop judging him because we know that if he touches the ball something will always happen.”