Whenever the best player to have ever played the beautiful game is spoken about, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are in the conversation.
A conversation that inevitably includes Diego Maradona and Pele.
Clearly, all four have a claim to being considered as the true No.1, but former Liverpool stalwart, Jamie Carragher, believes that Messi is head and shoulders above his contemporaries.
“People always throw Pele and Maradona into the best-ever argument, but I think what Messi has done year-in and year-out in the Champions League trumps that,” he said in Messi – The King of Camp Nou.
“Unfortunately, people will always say things like ‘he never did this, won that.’ It’s the same for Liverpool in some seasons. Whatever we achieved, we got opposition fans saying ‘well, you didn’t win the league.’
“The reality is that it can be to do with the manager at the time, the squad of players, the opposition, whatever… Messi could even legitimately argue that he wasn’t even playing in the best international team in the world.
“They did well getting to a final, in which he was player of the tournament. What more can he do?!”
In Carragher’s professional opinion, the competition isn’t even close given how relentless the Argentinian has been throughout his career.
“Ronaldo’s quite clever. I think a lot of his moves have been on the back of ‘what can I do that’s different?’ He can say he’s won the league in all these countries, been the top scorer in all these countries and these are more strings to his bow. He probably does the opposite to what Messi does to try and paint himself as being slightly different and better,” he continued.
“But listen, I don’t think of Franco Baresi and Paolo Maldini being any less of a defender because they never left AC Milan. So that’s not going to change my opinion with Lionel Messi not leaving Barcelona. I mean, why would you leave Barcelona?!
“That also gets thrown at Pep Guardiola as a manager. ‘Oh he only takes the big jobs, what would he be like with a team at the bottom or a team in the middle?’ But why the hell would he do that?
“It’s like saying to Messi ‘go and sign for Southampton.’ It’s just stupid, absolutely daft.
“He’s at the top club, he’s the best player there, he’s the best player in Europe and has been for more than a decade. The best show up against the best on the biggest occasions and that’s what he does.”
Messi has moved on to Paris Saint Germain of course, and it remains to be seen if he will be the catalyst to ensure the Ligue Un giant win their maiden Champions League title.
Furthermore, with a World Cup just a year away, there’s the opportunity for the Argentinian to finally put the argument to bed once and for all.
All quotes obtained first hand by the author. Messi – The King of Camp Nou is published on December 16