FC Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola was at a loss for words after watching Lionel Messi become the club's all-time leading goal scorer. When the words finally came to him, Guardiola told reporters that Messi's dominance "perfectly" compares to that of NBA legend Michael Jordan.
"You have few players who dominate like this, but he does it," Guardiola said. "You can compare him perfectly to Jordan."
"It's all been said before about Messi. He doesn't only score goals, he scores great goals; each one is better than the last. We are seeing the very best in action. I'm sorry for those who try to take his throne but this kid is different, better. We are excited to have him."
Messi broke Cesar's 57-year-old club record with a hat trick on Tuesday. The 24-year-old's astonishing goal haul stands at 234 (and counting). It took Messi eight seasons to surpass the mark Cesar set in 16.
Guardiola's comparison rings true in many ways, but the global nature of soccer makes direct comparisons difficult.
Jordan was a 14-time NBA All-Star, six-time champion and five-time league MVP. He also has two Olympic gold medals.
Messi is is a three-time FIFA World Player of the Year, three-time UEFA Champions League winner, two-time FIFA Club World Cup winner among a host of other honors. He also won Olympic gold and a World Championship at the youth levels.
Both stars had the ability to raise their games on the biggest stage, which few can do. Jordan was a six-time NBA Finals MVP. Messi has scored in the 2009 and 2011 UEFA Champions League finals.
If and when the Argentine lifts a FIFA World Cup, he could move into a class of his own.