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The ex-Manchester United and Bayern Munich boss, 67, said he had admiration for the Barcelona superstar and the Paris Saint-Germain ace, but he questioned their abilities as team players.
And the 47-year-old Rivaldo has now fired back at Van Gaal, saying that the retired Dutch manager doesn't like players who detract from the coach.
"Messi, Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo are difference-making players and neither the team nor the coach knows how they do those otherworldly things," the Copa América and World Cup winner wrote in an Instagram post.
"But there are many coaches who do not like these players because they detract from the coach himself, so they prefer to talk about these players as if they do not know how to play as a team and they are good only individually.
"I played football for more than 24 years and I know very well that many coaches were very average when they played and others were not players.
"Today, as coaches, they want their team to play as a team for them to have the merit of a great coach.
"If you have a player like Pelé, Johan Cruyff, Rivellino, Garrincha, Messi, Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ronaldo Fenomeno, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho, [Zinedine] Zidane, Romario, Kaká, [Diego] Maradona, Zico, [Kylian] Mbappé, [Luís] Figo, [Hristo] Stoichkov, [Gheorghe] Hagi, etc., it is easier.
"But it does not mean you are going to be champions. If you also have a team that does not play well tactically, it can mean that you are not going to be a champion.
"I prefer difference-making players because football is joy and everyone likes something different.
"The team is always important, but you need to have different players who can do something more on the pitch."
Van Gaal also criticised Messi, 32, for Barcelona's success in the Champions League since 2015.
The La Liga champions were knocked out of the semi-finals last season after Liverpool's sensational second-leg comeback.
But Van Gaal believes that the five-time Ballon d'Or winner should be asking himself why he hasn't won the competition in recent seasons.
Agree or disagree with Rivaldo?
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Featured Image Credit: PA
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