Lionel Messi‘s name has been uttered alongside soccer’s all-time greats recently. Many debate whether the Argentine star is the best player of all time. Either Pele or Diego Maradona usually claim the throne (depending on who you ask).
But one of Maradona’s former teammates, Ossie Ardiles, thinks Messi has surpassed the heights Maradona reached, according to the Associated Press.
“I played with Maradona for seven years and he was magnificent,” Ardiles said. “I thought I would never see another player like that but I have to say Messi is better.”
“Messi hasn’t had the results with the national team yet but I am sure that will come. There is a natural evolution and players today are just getting better. Messi is by far the best.”
Ardilles, 59, played professionally for 18 years (1973-91) in four countries. He also played 63 times for Argentina’s national team and won the 1978 FIFA World Cup.
At club level Messi has achieved far more than Maradona. He has won five La Liga, three UEFA Champions League, and two FIFA Club World Cup titles. He is the storied club’s all-time leading goal scorer as well. Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola recently compared the three-time FIFA World Player of the Year winner to NBA great Michael Jordan.
Maradona won league championships in Argentina (with Boca Juniors in 1981) and Italy (with unfancied Napoli in 1987). But his accomplishments at the international surpass those of Messi.
Argentina has played two World Cups with Messi on the field. It was eliminated in the quarterfinal round of the 2006 and 2010 tournaments.
With Maradona, the Albiceleste won the 1986 World Cup and reached the final in 1990. Maradona is a national treasure in Argentina, while Messi has failed to win over the sporting public.
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