Eurosport - Wed, 07 Apr 11:55:00 2010
Everyone has been talking about Lionel Messi since his four-goal demolition of Arsenal for Barcelona - we asked our worldwide network of Eurosport journalists where Messi ranks among the greatest players of all time.
Spain - Cristian Maxedo: We have no doubt that Messi is the best player in the world at the moment because of his great talent, which has been leading his team to wins all season. But his challenge is to maintain this level of play for several more seasons to establish himself as one of the greatest players of all time. He must also achieve success with his national team and the World Cup could be a significant stepping stone for him. In recent years there have been several players who looked like they would cement their reputation as the third greatest behind Pele and Maradona - I'm thinking about Michel Platini, Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldinho - but they never quite make it. There is no doubt Messi has all the tools to join Pele and Maradona, and if he continues like this he will achieve it.
Italy - Guido Guenci: Direct comparisons between players of different eras are always difficult, especially in a team sport, but this time it makes sense to compare Messi with Maradona. They’re so similar both from a physical and technical point of view, they play more or less in the same way and they are solo players more than team players. Messi's age is important. He’s 22, Maradona was 22 when he took part in the 1982 World Cup... and he failed. So, the next World Cup will be an important stage in the comparison between them: Messi’s performance with his national team has been disappointing to date, in South Africa he has a chance to upset this trend. Another thing he has to prove is continuity. I’ve not the chance to see Messi every single week, but sometimes you can see a Barcelona match where his contribution is almost irrelevant. I’m a bit old, and I remember perfectly Maradona playing with Napoli: well, I can assure he was never irrelevant. Another thing is their respective teams. Messi has already won everything, but with Barcelona: a great Club with a great history, perfect organization and wonderful team-mates. Maradona succeeded in winning Serie A and a Uefa Cup, with a small club, Napoli, with almost no tradition, and a questionable organization. Messi has to play at this level for next two or three years with his club and with Argentina, to be judged as the greatest footballer ever. But he has everything to reach this goal, and most of all he has something Maradona didn't have: stability and mental health.
Germany - Stefan Zuern: What Messi showed against Arsenal was a new dimension of what we thought was possible in football. His physical prowess, paired with supreme technical ability, pure delight of playing and effectiveness are unique. So: Is Lionel Messi the best player of all time? Simply: Not yet. Messi lacks at least two things: He has not shown his talent in the world's best league, and he hasn't shown it in football's most important event: the World Cup. On the other hand, you have to put the genius of a player into the context of his time: Messi is really exceptional considering the fact that his opponents nowadays have far more physical and tactical ways to stop him compared to Pele's or Maradona's times. But if Messi is able to lead Argentina to the World Cup (like Maradona did) and if Messi is able to bring his skills to the stadia of the English Premier League, he will surely continue his path and someday maybe become the best player of all time.
Sweden - Kristian Borell: To say that Messi is as good as or better than Diego Maradona is to be offside in a way that even referee Tom Henning Ovrebo would have acknowledged. To say that Messi is as good as or better than Maradona is to be just as offside as those claiming that Pele was better than Garrincha. Maradona or Messi? Garrincha or Pele? Historical football facts or political correctness?
France - Glenn Ceillier: Lionel Messi is the best player in the world right now, and last night's game against Arsenal demonstrated that. Thanks to his work rate and his efficiency, he is one step ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney. But he has only played his best with Barcelona. With Argentina he is not the same player. He has not yet shown his talent during a big tournament like the World Cup. For us, to compare him with Pele or Maradona, he has to win the World Cup or at least be brilliant in one. And of course, if he wants to surpass those two, he must continue for many years because, at 22, he is just at the start of his career.
UK - Alex Chick: Leo Messi is not yet the best player of all time, but the fact that the question is being asked about a 22-year-old shows what an extraordinary talent he is. Like all great players, he has incredible balance, and seems impossible to push off the ball; he is a midget with the strength of an ox. For me, Zinedine Zidane was the master of this - his balance gave him power and agility that shouldn't have been possible for a man of his size. Ironically, the biggest obstacle facing Messi comes in the form of Argentina coach Diego Maradona, who happens to be greatest of all time. Every legendary player needs to light up a World Cup, yet Messi has struggled amid Diego's tactical anarchy. He must unshackle himself in South Africa - his place in football's pantheon depends on it.
Poland - Piotr Zwierzchowski: There is no doubt that Lionel Messi is currently one of the best players in the world, if not the best. It looks like his ability is almost unlimited. He has everything a truly great player should have, PLUS great vision: it seems he knows what opposition defenders will do when he gets the ball and he can outplay them without any problem. Messi is a football genius, he has won everything with Barcelona but... he can't show his greatness in national team. In World Cup qualifying Argentina had very big problems and Messi wasn't able to perform at his highest level. If he doesn't prove that he can play as spectacular in a blue and white shirt, then he can't be considered as absolutely the best. Maradona, Pele, Zidane - they are still ranked higher than Messi.
Eurosport Arabia - Mohammad Sanajleh: Messi is a great player, that's for sure, but when I remember Maradona was with Napoli, that small southern Italian club, and I simply cannot forget watching what he did with them - I was watching the greatest player ever. When I remember Maradona with Argentina in the 1986 World Cup I also knew I was lucky to watch the greatest player ever. Remember that Messi is playing with one of the best clubs in the world now, while Maradona was almost alone with small club. He was fighting against the three great Dutch players at AC Milan - Van Basten, Gullit and Rijkaard - and he still won. Messi is still young and he will do more and more, but Maradona is Maradona.
China - Jose Li: Just like the Hollywood movie 'Avatar', Messi and his Barcelona are becoming a symbol and a fashion of this time. A night elf, the successor to King Maradona, he saved his best performance for Europe with his four goals against Arsenal. You'll never forget the two hat-tricks he made in seven days. Maybe you thought Wayne Rooney would be a strong challenger to Messi's crown at the end of the last year, but after you enjoyed his extraordinary performance in the Nou Camp, you'll see that Rooney cannot match the Barcelona number 10. If Messi and Maradona's Argentina reach the summit in Africa, he will be the most successful man in football history. And don't forget, Messi is just 22.