Brazil legend Ronaldinho admitted that it was “difficult” for him to name Lionel Messi as the outright GOAT of football, despite playing together at Barcelona.
Messi’s legendary playing career at Barcelona saw him lift a whopping club-record 35 trophies at the Camp Nou, including 10 La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues.
The Barcelona legend continued to add silverware during his time in the French capital, with Messi lifting the Ligue 1 title in his first season with Paris Saint-Germain.
Messi also ended his long-running silverware drought on the international stage after Argentina’s victory over South American rivals Brazil in the 2021 Copa America final.
The PSG star is also the outright Ballon d’Or record holder, two ahead of fierce rival Cristiano Ronaldo, and lifted his most recent France Football award back in 2021.
Ronaldinho was at the Camp Nou when Messi burst onto the scene at Barcelona and played alongside the Argentina captain before his departure in 2008.
The 2002 World Cup winner insisted that he doesn’t like to compare Messi with other legends from the past, even though they were friends at Barcelona.
Speaking to Spanish newspaper Marca after Messi’s sixth Ballon d’Or win, Ronaldinho said: “I’m glad Messi won the Ballon d’Or. We were also friends during our time at Barcelona.
“But I don’t like to compare, and I find it difficult to say he is the best of all time.”
Ronaldinho, who officially retired from football in 2018, said that he could see PSG forward Messi as the “best of his era” ahead of Portugal star Ronaldo.
However, the former AC Milan and Barcelona star believes that Diego Maradona and Brazilian duo Pele and Ronaldo are also in the conversation for the GOAT of football.
“There was Maradona, Pele, Ronaldo… it’s hard to say that Messi is the best throughout the history of football,” Ronaldinho added.
“I can only say he is the best of his era.”
Messi has previously hailed the impact of Ronaldinho during his time at the Camp Nou, with the Brazilian arriving at Barcelona at a “bad time.”
The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner claimed former Barcelona teammate Ronaldinho made people fall in love with him during his prolific spell at the club.
“Ronaldinho was responsible for the change in Barca. It was a bad time and the change that came about with his arrival was amazing,” Messi said.
“In the first year, he didn’t win anything but people fell in love with him. Then the trophies started coming and he made all those people happy.
“Barca should always be grateful for everything he did.”
Last night seven-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi essentially completed football. In his 26th and final World Cup match, Messi emulated Diego Maradona’s 1986 heroics by dragging Argentina to World Cup glory.
The 35-year-old can now add the World Cup trophy to his four Champions Leagues, one Copa America, 10 La Liga titles with Barcelona and a Ligue 1 trophy with Paris Saint-Germain.
After a history of World Cup heartache and disappointment stretching back to 2006, which includes losing to Germany in the 2014 final, Messi has finally secured the one trophy that had until then alluded him.
For some, yesterday’s triumph finally put to bed the age-old argument over who the greatest footballer of all time (GOAT) might be. Others had maintained it remains Messi’s predecessor Maradona, or Brazil star Pele. Some claim the GOAT was Dutch maestro Johan Cruyff or Zinedine Zidane; maybe even George Best or Ronaldo Garnacho. George Weah is sometimes touted, as are Ferenc Puskás and Alfredo Di Stéfano…
It is near-impossible to compare players from different eras, but one thing yesterday’s game certainly concluded was the most tedious and common comparison football debate of them all. Messi is now, without a doubt, undisputedly a better footballer than… Joe Cole.
The year is 2010 and Liverpool have made a spate of signings. Under new manager Roy Hodgson the Reds are hopeful of putting the horror of the previous season’s seventh-place finish behind them and entering a bright new era.
To mark the new age Liverpool have signed the likes of Paul Konchesky, Fábio Aurélio, Milan Jovanovic, Jonjo Shelvey, and Christian Poulsen. But the marquee signing is none other than Chelsea and England star Cole.
Of course, hindsight is a wonderful thing, but Gerrard’s claims that Cole was better than Messi were even outlandish then.
After Cole was signed on a Bosman, the then-Reds captain told Match of the Day magazine (via the Guardian): “[Lionel] Messi can do some amazing things, but anything he can do Joe can do as well, if not better.
“He used to shock us in training by doing footy tricks with a golf ball that most players can’t even do with a football. I really fancy Joe for the [player of the year] award this season.”
Cole endured a difficult first year at Liverpool and was subsequently loaned out to Lille. Meanwhile, Messi scored 53 goals in all competitions as Barcelona went on to win La Liga, the Spanish Super Cup and the Champions League.
A former teammate of Kylian Mbappe’s has revealed that the France superstar believes Cristiano Ronaldo is clearly better than Lionel Messi.
Diallo also added that Mbappe will be prepared to debate for at least an hour when it comes to Ronaldo being better than Messi.
The defender, who is on loan at Red Bull Leipzig from PSG said: “Cristiano Ronaldo is literally everything to Kylian Mbappe.”
Both Ronaldo and Messi have been fighting at the top for years, the pair arrived in Qatar searching for the elusive World Cup trophy.
However, the dream of lifting football’s most prized award went up in smoke for Ronaldo as Portugal were beaten by Morocco in the quarter-finals.
Messi meanwhile is one step away from glory and the man standing in his way will be Mbappe and France.
The 2018 winners are out to defend their trophy and are hoping to become the first country since Brazil to win back-to-back World Cups.
A lot of football fans are rooting for Messi as they are desperate to see the Argentina legend lift the golden trophy aloft in order to cement himself as the ultimate GOAT.
Ahead of the match, France manager Didier Deschamps has said that he and his side will do everything to prevent Messi from a fairytale ending to his World Cup career.
He said: “We will do everything humanly possible for that not to happen. At the end of the match, someone is getting the 3rd star on their shirt.”
Whilst France left-back Theo Hernandez has claimed that Messi doesn’t scare them, he said: “Now let’s recover for Sunday. Messi doesn’t scare us, Argentina are an incredible team but we have a few days to work.”
France vs Argentina will kick off at 3pm UK time at the Lusail Stadium on Sunday. Who will come out on top? Let us know in the comments.
In Qatar Messi has done as much as possible, to this point, to prove his worth to Argentina, as they attempt to become world champions for the first time since 1986.
He scored a much needed goal in the win over Mexico, after the loss to Saudi Arabia, and again notched the winner in the last 16 game with Australia.
In the quarter-final with Netherlands, the Paris Saint-Germain star set up the opener with a magical assist, scored the second and then showed the guts to go up first in the penalty shoot-out, and placed his effort safely home.
It puts Messi and Argentina just two wins away from sporting immortality, as they look to become champions of the world, for just the third time in their country’s history.
Until last year, the seven time Ballon d’Or winner had never won a major trophy with his country, until he lead them to the Copa America.
It was the one thing missing from his CV but with that secured, some fans still believe he needs the World Cup to solidify his status as the greatest ever.
However, everyone’s favourite co-commentator, McCoist, believes even a victory in Qatar would still leave the 35-year-old behind Diego Maradona.
“Even with all of the focus about whether Messi could ever equal what Maradona did and the debate about who is the best and who isn’t, they’ll be desperate,” McCoist’s talkSPORT colleague Andy Townsend said on the radio station.
“The current players will be desperate to get him over the line on that debate.
“Would winning this World Cup settle that debate?”
Messi revealed Sunday’s (December 18) final would be the last time he would take part in a World Cup.
He told reporters: “[I feel] a lot of happiness to be able to achieve this. To finish my World Cup career playing my last game in a final.
“Everything I’ve lived in this World Cup, what people experienced and how much the people back in Argentina are enjoying it all is very emotional.
“I’m enjoying everything a lot, I feel strong to be able to face each match.
“We’ve come along making a lot of big sacrifices, like playing the extra time which wasn’t easy. We were tired but the group gave that little bit more, it was a very tough game which went the way we prepared for.
“We knew they would have the ball a lot and that we would have our chances. It was a well prepared match like we always manage, and I’m happy, I’m enjoying it all a lot.”
And what a finale it was for Messi.