The forward failed to shine in Barcelona’s 2-0 defeat to AC Milan on Wednesday, with the Italians taking all the plaudits for silencing the infamously deadly attack.
Van Bommel, who spent the 2011/12 season at San Siro, said he and his colleagues at AC Milan were of the opinion that Messi would struggle to score more than 30 goals in a campaign if he played in Italy.
“Three quarters (of the changing room) thought he would score definitely less (than 30 goals a season in Serie A),” van Bommel said.
“And that’s me included, yes. Serie A is just a very different approach to football. You can still neutralise sides like in no other league.
“It was only last year that Messi scored his first goal against an Italian club. This is no coincidence.”
Van Bommel said he enjoyed his year at Milan more than his season with Barca, but he puts that down to expectations.
“At Barcelona I had a great year, but the affection at Milan was huge,” the former Netherlands international said.
“Perhaps it was also about how I arrived at the club. I was brought in as a big name. But at Milan, I was able to apply myself, I think, in terms of football but also as a human being, and I had a great time.”