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Cristiano Ronaldo says Lionel Messi makes him better, Wenger wanted 700-goal star at Arsenal and Pep Guardiola thinks he's the best around

talksport.com, 30 June 2020, 17:35
Cristiano Ronaldo says Lionel Messi makes him better, Wenger wanted 700-goal star at Arsenal and Pep Guardiola thinks he
Another day, another milestone reached for living legend Lionel Messi. 700 goals for Barcelona and Argentina.

A delightful Panenka penalty past Jan Oblak - even the world's best goalkeepers can't stop the little genius.

Is Messi the greatest player ever?Pep Guardiola once said about his supreme ability: "Don't write about him, don't try to describe him, just watch him."

There are simply not enough words in the English language, or any other language to do the Barcelona ace justice.

Messi has done everything any aspiring player could dream of achieving and while there's no football on for the foreseeable future, talkSPORT.com has been in reflective mood.

Messi has left many of the game's biggest names speechless from Pep Guardiola to Cristiano Ronaldo, as you can see here.

Pep Guardiola

Where better to start than Messi's former manager at Barca? Guardiola took over first team duties at the club in 2008 and coached the forward as the conversation about whether Messi is the greatest player of all time really begun. Guardiola is in no doubt.

"He is the best player I have ever seen," he said. "The best thing about him is not what he does but how simple he makes everything look.

"He is not just the best player because he can dribble past three or four players, it is because he does it better than anyone in the world."

Cristiano Ronaldo

Messi has not been top dog every year, though, with Manchester United and Real Madrid legend Ronaldo a constant rival of his.

The pair have spent the best part of twelve years competing for the Ballon d'Or prize and although some try to make their rivalry personal, the reality is that they have huge respect for each other.

And Ronaldo was in philosophical mood when talking about competing with Messi in August 2019.

"I have no doubt that Messi has made me a better player and vice-versa," he said. "When I am winning trophies it must sting him and it's the same for me when he wins.

"I really admire the career he [Messi] has had and from his side, he has already talked of the disappointment when I left Spain because it was a rivalry that he appreciated.

"It's a good rivalry but it's not unique. Michael Jordan had rivalries in basketball, there was Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost in Formula 1. The thing they all had in common is that they were healthy rivalries.

"I have an excellent professional relationship [with Messi] because we have been sharing the same moments for 15 years.

"We've never had dinner together but I don't see why we can't in the future. I don't see a problem with that."

Arsene Wenger

Multiple people have described Messi as a 'PlayStation player' as he's capable of doing things that you could seemingly only do on a game and not real life.

Wenger is among those and had first hand experience of Messi, having watched him single-handedly blitz Arsenal out of the Champions League with all four goals in a 4-1 victory at the Camp Nou in April 2010.

A disappointing night for the Gunners but Wenger was left in awe of Messi afterwards, saying: "He's like a PlayStation.

"I think he can take advantage of every mistake you make. Barcelona are a very good side but of course they have Messi who can make the difference at any moment in the game."

The stars who nearly signed for Arsenal under Wenger, including Messi

Johan Cruyff

Messi has won the Ballon d'Or six times, more than anyone else, but with Ronaldo constantly putting pressure on him, there was a risk he would not win as many as he was capable of.

However, Netherlands and Barcelona legend Cruyff urged Messi to have no such fear, tipping the player to win football's most prestigious individual prize more than anyone else.

Speaking in 2012,Cruyff said: "He will be the one with the most Ballons d'Or ever in history.

"Probably, he will win five, six, or seven Ballons d'Or, he's incomparable, he plays in another league."

Gary Lineker

Lineker is one of Messi's biggest supporters.

Every time he does something spectacular, Lineker, who played for Barcelona in the 1980s, is one of the first to wax lyrical about him on Twitter. And in September 2019, he told talkSPORT just what makes Messi so special.

"I never thought I'd see a better player than Diego Maradona," Lineker explained.

"But I think when you look at Messi, he does everything and more than Diego could do. His goalscoring ratio is pretty much a goal a game and Diego's was about one in two, which is pretty good, certainly in those days. It's a bit easier now.

"Messi is also the best dribbler I've ever seen and as good a passer as I've ever seen. Diego was great at both as well, but when I think you take into account the longevity that Messi had done it in, about 15 years at the same level, as well.

"When I watch Messi play it makes me feel joyous…he does four or five things in a game that just get you off your seat."

Gary Neville

As well as being one of the best players ever, Messi has played for one of the best teams ever in Barcelona under Guardiola's management.

Barca won the Champions League in 2011, beating Manchester United 3-1 at Wembley, in a final where frankly the Red Devils couldn't get near the Spanish outfit for large parts.

Messi scored Barcelona's second goal and despite being 23 at the time, former United defender Neville insisted that pundits shouldn't be afraid to label the Barcelona star as the greatest ever.

Neville said: "This guy's the best player in the world at the moment without doubt and I think we're always nervous to call players [the best ever], who are playing now…

"But we shouldn't be, we should admit what we're seeing in front of our eyes is a special talent who maybe is the best player that's ever been seen."

Jamie Carragher

Neville's fellow Sky Sports pundit Carragher is also in no doubt Messi is the 'GOAT' and referred to a masterclass display during Barcelona's victory over Tottenham in last season's Champions League group stage

He said: "I think Messi would be the best player if you made a team comprising all of the best players of all-time.

"He's definitely the best player I've ever played against. What he did against Tottenham at Wembley sums up what Messi is all about.

"He was Man of the Match that day. He gets compared to Cristiano Ronaldo, but Messi's something else - more relaxed, more complete - he passes, sets up and scores goals and all of that is what puts him on another level."

Give COVID-19 the red card

The quicker we work together to stop coronavirus spreading, the sooner we can get back into the pubs, the gyms and stadiums and arenas to see live sport again…

STAY AT HOME. Only leave for the following purposes:

to shop for basic essentials - only when you really need to

to do one form of exercise a day - such as a run, walk or cycle, alone or with other people you live with

for any medical need - for example, to visit a pharmacy or deliver essential supplies to a vulnerable person

to travel to and from work - but only where this is absolutely necessary

For more info and tips, visit the NHS website.

The government has also issued further detail on what we can do during lockdown.

Everyone should do what they can to stop coronavirus spreading.

Gianluigi Buffon

Messi is often referred to as an alien such is his ability on the ball and the standout quote suggesting he was from another planet comes from former Juventus captain Gianluigi Buffon.

In the build-up to the 2015 Champions League final, Buffon said: "Messi is an alien that dedicates himself to playing with humans. The only hope is that this Saturday he will be from earth, like the rest of us."

Messi didn't score but helped Barca run out 3-1 winners against Juve in Berlin.

Andres Iniesta

What makes Messi so great? Well, it's really quite simple, according to Barcelona legend Iniesta.

The Spaniard, who played alongside Messi for 14 years in Spain, believes the way Messi touches the ball is what makes him so 'unique'.

"Talking about him is different.

"It's about things that you can't see. Beyond doing different things, you can see how special he is just by the way he touches the ball.

"When he does it you know it will be perfect. He's unique."

Diego Maradona

However, you can't please everyone and even the great Lionel Messi has his critics.

Argentina icon Maradona suggested the Barca star is 'in decline' after the LaLiga giants could only manage a 1-1 draw against Maradona's former club Napoli in the Champions League in February.

But Maradona did admit he'd love to see Messi play for the Serie A club.

"Messi arrived at San Paolo in decline," he said.

"Messi has not lived the life I have. Leo could play extraordinarily in Naples, but he would not be able to do what I did. Let's be clear about that."

"I wish the Neapolitans could have a Messi, even though San Paolo is 'Diegoed.'"

Another day, another milestone reached for living legend Lionel Messi. 700 goals for Barcelona and Argentina.

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