FORMER Netherlands boss Louis van Gaal has sensationally claimed Lionel Messi's World Cup triumph was "premeditated".
The ex-Manchester United manager, 72, took charge of the Dutch for the Qatar tournament last year.
They made it through to the quarter-finals, but were then eliminated by Messi's Argentina on penalties following a thrilling 2-2 draw.
Wout Weghorst scored two late goals – including a dramatic equaliser – to send the game to extra time, before Emi Martinez saved from Virgil van Dijk and Steven Berghuis in the shootout to send Argentina through.
Messi and Co went on to beat Croatia 3-0 in the last four and lifted the trophy following an epic win over France on spot kicks.
Now Van Gaal, who resigned after the tournament and was replaced by Ronald Koeman, has reflected on Argentina's triumph with some remarkable comments.
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Speaking to Dutch outlet NOS, he said: "I don't really want to say much about it.
"When you see how Argentina gets the goals and how we get the goals, and how some Argentina players overstepped the mark and were not punished, then I think it all premeditated game."
Asked to clarify his comments, he added: "I mean everything I say.
"That Messi should become world champion? I think so, yes."
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Messi netted Argentina's second goal in the win over the Netherlands, before he celebrated by cupping his ears in the direction of Van Gaal.
And the Barcelona legend confirmed after the game that this provocative reaction was in response to Van Gaal's pre-game trash talk – as well as the conduct of substitute Weghorst.
He said: "I don't like people talking before games.
"The number 19 (Weghorst) came and started to provoke us, bump into us, tell us things. Their coach was not respectful to us either.
"It seemed disrespectful to me, that a coach of his calibre declared like that.
"Van Gaal does not respect the Argentina national team."
Meanwhile, Van Gaal, who has prostate cancer, recently underwent another operation – nearly 18 months after confirming his diagnosis.
Giving an update on his health, he added: "It's still the same thing. I had another operation on August 9 and complications arose. I won't bore you with what happened. But things are looking nice now.
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"I have to rest until September 19. Then we will see whether the operation has achieved its goal.
"I generally feel good. So it is not that I do not feel well, it is more that I am not fit and pant when I climb stairs. Two years ago that was not possible and now it is."
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