The Hoops meet the Argentine ace and his Barcelona teammates in the Champions League at the Nou Camp tonight and Hartson feels a tight hold by Kenyan powerhouse Wanyama could have a similar outcome as another similar scenario when the Scots drew 1-1 back in 2004.
"It's very hard to focus on one player when you're playing such a brilliant team as Barca, but when we went there Ronaldinho was the No1 footballer in the world," said the Welshman.
"He was the Messi of his day and Martin O'Neill stuck Joos Valgaeren on him.
"Joos was all over him like a cheap suit and Ronaldinho didn't get a kick.
"Can you do that against Messi? You would have been asking the same question about Ronaldinho back then, but it worked for us. I think Wanyama could do it.
"I'm not sure if it's what Lenny will do. I'd imagine he'll go 4-5-1 with Wanyama sitting in front of the back four for added protection.
"Wanyama is big, strong, can intercept and break with the ball. He's a powerful player and a big unit. He's a good athlete for a big lad and a top player."