Sevilla defender Gabriel Mercado has admitted that he risks becoming a pariah back home in Argentina, if he take too physical an approach to marking Barcelona superstar and national hero Lionel Messi in this weekend's Copa del Rey final.
Messi and Barça have won each of the last three finals, beating Sevilla in 2016, and are on course to reclaim their league title while also becoming the first Spanish team to go through an entire 38-game league season unbeaten.
Asked by AS how it might be possible to stop Messi, Mercado had no answers.
"If I hit him I cannot go back to Argentina," he said. "Messi cannot be stopped or fouled, you give him [a hit] and he still wants to play football. That's it, he always wants to score and hurt the opponent's goal."
Mercado, who is set to be named alongside Messi in Argentina's World Cup squad, added, "He is the best without discussion. He appears anywhere in the field, scores goals and assists.
"There will be a lot of defensive work, we have to be perfect, but we are dreaming of a title and nobody can take that away from us."
31-year-old Mercado joined Sevilla from River Plate in August 2016 and so missed out the club's three consecutive Europa League title in the previous seasons.
Argentina will begin their World Cup journey on 16th June when they face Iceland in Moscow. They will meet Croatia five days later in Nizhny Novgorod and then finish the group stage with a game against Nigeria in Saint Petersburg on 26th June.