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Is Messi the greatest ever?

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Phil Minshull | 12:24 UK time, Tuesday, 30 March 2010

The debate about Lionel Messi, in Spain and around the world, seems to have moved on in recent weeks, and the Barcelona player has gone from being a great to 'the greatest'.

Messi won every player of the year award in 2009, including Fifa's own honour, and at the start of this year looked a good long range bet to do so again, unless Wayne Rooney or Cristiano Ronaldo had hugely spectacular World Cup campaigns.

However, after his widely publicised displays just over a week ago against Stuttgart and Valencia - although his more recent performances in La Liga against Osasuna and Mallorca were a little more modest by his own high standards - there have been headlines and discussion over whether he is actually the best player of all time.

Inevitably, over the years, there have been comparisons with his compatriot Diego Maradona, although the local sentiment here is that he is culturally and emotionally as much Spanish as he is Argentine, regardless of the international shirt he wears, owing to the fact that he spent his formative years at Barca's youth training academy.
Lionel MessiMessi has been in sparkling form this season
He was signed at the age of 13 and inducted into their academy at La Masia after the club agreed to fund his medical bills for growth hormone treatment to correct some small adolescent physical problems if he moved to Spain, bills which had been too expensive for his Argentine club, Newell's Old Boys.

Before we all get misty eyed about Barcelona's altruism, it should be pointed out that the signing of the prodigiously talented teenager meant that Barcelona also neatly sidestepped any complications with Fifa over the international transfer of an under-18 player.

In the last two weeks, however, the Messi debate has intensified, and some have claimed that not only is he better than Maradona, but also Pele, Johan Cruyff and Alfredo Di Stefano as well.

The usual point of reference is the number of titles won at such an early age with Messi now having 13 winners' medals to his name from every major European club tournament, plus the Under-20 World Cup and the Olympic Games.

Personally, I think that such comparisons are nearly always fatuous.

For every argument that suggests Messi is better than the four men he has been most frequently compared with, another can be put forward that contradicts the previous view.

Cruyff, Di Stefano, Maradona, Pele and now Messi were and are great players of their time but to compare them is inevitably a flawed task.

Unlike my other great love, athletics, where establishing supremacy is a little easier owing to the defining nature of records and head-to-head competitions, in football everything is a little more subjective and thankfully so.

Nevertheless, given his ability to excel on the highest stage - perhaps the one reason why Cristiano Ronaldo is less frequently compared with the legends mentioned above - there is huge anticipation ahead of Messi's appearance at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday night.

It will be his first encounter with Arsenal as he didn't play a part in the 2006 Champions League final, the last time the two sides met, owing to a thigh injury sustained in an earlier round against Chelsea.

At that point he was still a teenager with abundant potential, a Hispanic version of Ryan Giggs in his early years at Manchester United.

It was the following year when he started to really get global attention and by the end of the 2006-07 season, World Soccer magazine felt it was time to put 'The magic of Messi - The unstoppable rise of football's new superstar' as the headline on the front cover of its June 2007 issue.

Since the arrival of Pep Guardiola in the summer of 2008, and the subsequent departure of Ronaldinho, the Barcelona team has been built around Messi and his mesmerising skills.

This season, combined with the mid-season slump in form by Zlatan Ibrahimovic which has meant that he has had to pick up the slack at times, he has scored more goals than ever before and his current La Liga tally of 25 sees him in contention to win the European Golden Shoe (formerly Golden Boot) award.

However, another factor behind Messi's sustained brilliance has been the influence of Guardiola's unsung sidekick Tito Vilanova, who has the modest 'technical assistant' on his business card.

Vilanova arrived with Guardiola and has been responsible for revamping Messi's physical fitness programme and nutrition and the last two seasons have seen a big reduction in the amount of injuries he has suffered.

Although every big club would love to have him, Messi looks likely to spend the foreseeable future at Barcelona - unlike the speculation focused on Ronaldo and Kaka last season and Wayne Rooney in recent months, there has never been any suggestion that he would move away from the Camp Nou.

And why should he? Apart from his obvious contentment on the pitch, he is also being highly rewarded.
Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi Messi has drawn comparisons with Maradona
France Football estimated that Messi earned €33 million last year, making him the highest paid player in the world, and although Ronaldo is believed to have a slightly higher base salary at Real Madrid, if Barcelona can do a La Liga and Champions League double this season then he could even top those figures this time next year.

In a world where most players are rated from one to 10, and despite the fact that he wears 10 on his back for both club and country, the football deities definitely turned it up to 11 when they made Lionel Messi.

At the age of 22, there is every chance that the knob may just get flicked round to 12 in the coming years and then the debate about whether he is 'The Greatest' may just start to have some validity.

Comments on the blog in the space provided below. Other questions on European football to I don't need your full address but please put the town/city and country where you come from.

Questions about La Liga remain as popular as ever and, as this week's blog was all about a Barca player, I've pulled a couple of questions from the postbag about other clubs.

Q) What do you make of Sevilla sacking their coach Jimenez last week? (Yousef Teclab, London)

A) On one hand it was not unexpected, given the prevailing culture at Spanish clubs. They hadn't won in seven games and their unexpected loss to CSKA Moscow in the Champions League, at least it was unexpected to me and obviously the Sevilla directors, meant that a rationale could be provided for the sacking. Nevertheless, the lack of respect for what Manolo Jimenez had done for the club, especially in the wake of the disruptive circumstances surrounding the departure of his predecessor Juande Ramos, and the fact that they are in the Copa del Rey final means that it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Q) Do you think Gonzalo Higuain is a name that could come to England, what sort of club would he suit, is a decent striking option and could Real Madrid be looking to offload him after their big spending (last summer)? (Marcus Jackson, Manchester)

A) Certainly, Higuain could find a place at most, if not all, of the Premier League teams in the top half of the table. He would certainly be suited at any club that can provide him with service from the wings. For instance, the two Manchester clubs or Tottenham would potentially be a good fit. However, I don't think a move is likely now. At the start of the season there was speculation that he might go this coming summer, but his performances mean that I think it is almost certain that he will stay and that it might be Karim Benzema who could move on.


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  • 1. At 1:20pm on 30 Mar 2010, Arbee wrote:

    Messi has been in absolutely stunning form, and in my opinion, better than both Ronaldo and Rooney.

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  • 2. At 1:20pm on 30 Mar 2010, Ash wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 3. At 1:23pm on 30 Mar 2010, DJL1984 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 4. At 1:25pm on 30 Mar 2010, Vox Populi wrote:

    There's no doubt that Messi is the best player in the world right now.

    If he wins the World Cup with Argentina in 2010 or in future editions then you can start making the arguments for him to be the greatest ever.

    I'm reluctant to compare him to Maradona at the moment because although he is obviously quite brilliant, he plays in a very good Barcelona side.

    For Argentina, when they have struggled, he has been slightly more anonymous.

    I've seen some great players and at the moment I would put even Ronaldo (Brazil) and Zidane ahead of him, before the Maradona/Di Stefano/Cruyff/Pele comparisons start.

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  • 5. At 1:25pm on 30 Mar 2010, HudsonLA wrote:

    I think that he is the best player in the world right now, its hard to say ever, as football has changed so much that its almost a different game. I think its also down the way he seems, I dont watch La Liga but you never hear about him throwing strops, or getting sent off. He seems to have a very cool professional head, something that Ronaldo and Rooney can lack at times, which is why i think he is better than them.

    As for your comment about him having to pick up the slack because of Zlatans "dip" in form. I think "dip" should be replaced by, "overrated player, and has never really been that good, the only reason he had a high goal tally at Inter was because he took penalties". Zlatan has never impressed me, he fails in Europe, its almost like he doesnt play!

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  • 6. At 1:25pm on 30 Mar 2010, signori wrote:

    Messi is undoubtably the best player in the world right now.....make no mistakes if he carries on like this then he will be the best ever IMO....If he plays well at the world cup and Argentina go far then those doubters will slowly disappear.....

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  • 7. At 1:27pm on 30 Mar 2010, guyastral wrote:

    Messi is certainly the greatest of this generation and will be remembered along the likes of Maradona and Pelé.

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  • 8. At 1:28pm on 30 Mar 2010, Ben Green wrote:

    I was just discussing the greates player of all time debate with my friend and we agreed that you cannot directly compare players from different eras, as the game now for example is so much different to that when Di Stefano played. Players are much fitter, stronger and the game is much faster.

    Messi may well go down as the greatest of all time when he retires, but I think Zidane is the greatest of all time. Granted at 27 I haven't seen Maradone, Di Stefano or Pele anywhere near as much as Zidane. But Zidane had everything. He could shoot and pass with either foot, go pased players, could head the ball well, could take penalties, could tackle, was big and strong, could take free-kicks, was a good captain and most importantly could run games from the middle of pitch.

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  • 9. At 1:30pm on 30 Mar 2010, gibbonmonkey wrote:

    I don't know if you've heard of a young player by the name of Domenico Farelli coming through the ranks at Barcelona? From Italy originally, Barcelona snapped him up when he was just 10 years old and now he's looking to be a star of the near future. If he could learn from the likes of Messi then he's sure to succeed! He's recognisable by the tattoo of a salmon on his forearm which represents his gigantic leaping abilities which has seen him score 42 reserve team goals with just his head.

    Check out the Podcast Four podcast on itunes where George Allwell interviews Farelli about life in Spain and playing with the likes of Messi and Iniesta.

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  • 10. At 1:31pm on 30 Mar 2010, SouthernFairy wrote:

    Messi has been consistently the best player in the world over the last 12 months according to the official rankings...

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  • 11. At 1:31pm on 30 Mar 2010, Kapnag wrote:

    "Best of all time" fickle have the people who watch football got? Re-wind 4 years, and Ronaldinho was the "best of all time"

    Wait to see what he's done at the end of his career before making such ridiculous statements.

    Besides, his international career is hardly spectacular.

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  • 12. At 1:33pm on 30 Mar 2010, Thomas wrote:

    You're correct in saying it's a flawed comparisson. The correct answer is in fact that there is no correct answer. At the end of the day it all comes down to opinion, different people like different aspects of a footballer and consider different things a success.
    Also there is some weight in the comments made by another poster about him palying in a great barca side. I think it is easier to look complete when the team around you is complete. Although in saying that you have to take Berbatov into consideration as a massive contrast to this rule.
    A final factor is also the league the player plays in. How great was shevschenko before he came to play in the english league? Who's to say that if Messi joined Chelsea he might be shown to be a little less flawless?

    It's all politics anyway we all know Jermaine Beckford is the worlds greatest player :)


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  • 13. At 1:37pm on 30 Mar 2010, Amanbro wrote:

    Sorry Phil, but it is far too early to say he is the greatest. He has performed well recently but hasn't faced the greatest opposition just yet.

    At the moment he is all about pace and close (dribbling) contol. Personnally, I think he will be regarded as a great player at the end of his career but not amongst the greatest. For the record, Zidane is by far the greatest player I have ever seen (however I never watched Pele or maradonna).

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  • 14. At 1:38pm on 30 Mar 2010, OnTheBlog wrote:

    No one - apart from a top form Ronaldinho or Robinho can even be mentioned in the same breath a Messi.

    He may not be the best ever, but he could become one of the best ever.

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  • 15. At 1:39pm on 30 Mar 2010, rodders77 wrote:

    Every year there seems to be a new 'greatest' player. Messi is a very good footballer, but Maradona almost single handedly won the 86 world cup, and dragged a poor Argentina side to the final in 90. Pele has 3 world cup WINNERS medals to his name. Messi is part of a very good Barcelona team, they got to the final last year without him having any outstanding games. The media is constantly baying for someone to be the best ever, but whilst one day Messi might be able to be classed as such, he's nowhere near it at the minute.

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  • 16. At 1:42pm on 30 Mar 2010, Zidanepirouette wrote:

    Messi is the only player i've seen in my lifetime to come close to Zidane in terms of true genius. Surprised the Frenchman's name was not mentioned in the list of greats in the article.

    Both Messi and Zidane make the game look ridiculously easy and this - to me - is a sign of a true great. Zidane produced when it mattered (World Cup, Euro Champs, Champions League), can Messi? This partly depends of the team around him, and the jury is still out on Maradona's Argentina.

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  • 17. At 1:45pm on 30 Mar 2010, The Best team evra wrote:

    I'd like to see Messi do these things in England and then I'll make my judgement. For now I prefer Ronaldo, Torres and Rooney.

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  • 18. At 1:47pm on 30 Mar 2010, David Rolls wrote:

    It is fair to say that the boy can play, but he is playing in a very good team at Barca. When he plays for Argentina he goes missing in games and not just because of the way they play.

    He still has a long way to go to be compared to the likes of Maradona & Pele for me, but he is still only 22. We will know more about him when he reaches 27 and is in his prime.

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  • 19. At 1:47pm on 30 Mar 2010, yellowgreenred wrote:

    Whilst I agree Messi is an amazing talent, it is too early to compare him to Maradona. Don't forget Maradona ran the then strong Italian league with the not so brilliant Napoli.

    Messi is surrounded by other fantastic players at Barcelona and as others have rightly pointed out in the past his international form doesn't always quite match his club form.

    For me (too young to witness Pele), Maradona remains the greatest player to have graced this planet.

    I think the debate on Messi and Rooney is a fairer comparison. Right now those two are head and shoulders over everyone in the world. In my opinion, Rooney is slightly the more valuable player, mainly due to the fact that you could stick him in five or six different positions and he would still give you a world class performance. I don't think the same can be said of Messi.

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  • 20. At 1:49pm on 30 Mar 2010, adrenilenepotato wrote:

    unless he wins the world cup he is behind ronaldo(the original one),zidane and the peles and di stefano

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  • 21. At 1:49pm on 30 Mar 2010, Cletus the Slackjawed Yokel wrote:

    until messi starts to perform internationally and against the big english clubs in europe (one cl final header means nothing as he was outshone by other barca players and was unmarked), then he cant even claim to be the best in the world right now.

    Messi plays in a ridiculously talented barca team, so comparing him to maradona is a joke - has everyone forgotten what maradona did at club level and the players he had around him?

    ronaldo is a far superior footballer, he's doing what he does best, and now has done it for the two biggest clubs in the world (real and man utd).

    la liga is a joke, ronaldo has been injured for most of the season and look at his record, if messi ever gets out of his comfort zone at barca where a team is built around him he will be found out, id love to see him try to shine against bolton and blackburn away

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  • 22. At 1:51pm on 30 Mar 2010, MadMancHatter wrote:

    I personally think these greatest player ever debates are futile as there are far to amny variables to trully quantify a players greatness.
    For example with Messi, yes he is a terrific player but he is allowed to shine at barca because his is placed infront of a world class midfield.

    Im sure if you looked at certain stats you could argue that Xavi and Iniesta might make more of an individual contribution to barca than Messi (plus they have both performed at international level more consistantly than Messi). Their range of passing and inteligant movement allows messi the space to do his work and provide him with the bullets to fire in his goals (imagine messi with boltons midfield behind him, i doubt he would be half the player he is today). But because they are not the primary goal scorers they don't get the same recognition.

    Also on the GOAT debate it is nearly always a striker or attacking midfielder that people go for - but who is to say that Pele made a bigger contribution than Gordon Banks, or Franz beckenbauer. Or how about Dino Zoff or Yashin when conpared to maradonna.

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  • 23. At 1:52pm on 30 Mar 2010, Ryan_Scholes wrote:

    great post phil... messi is the best...

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  • 24. At 2:01pm on 30 Mar 2010, Wendell wrote:

    "5. At 1:25pm on 30 Mar 2010, HudsonLA wrote:

    I think that he is the best player in the world right now, its hard to say ever, as football has changed so much that its almost a different game. I think its also down the way he seems, I dont watch La Liga but you never hear about him throwing strops, or getting sent off. He seems to have a very cool professional head, something that Ronaldo and Rooney can lack at times, which is why i think he is better than them."

    Messi spit on a player last year and has other run ins. Look it up, he's got the same cool professional head as Rooney or Ronaldo.

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  • 25. At 2:05pm on 30 Mar 2010, SRG82 wrote:

    Zidane is definitely the best player ever, without question in my opinion. For me its the same as most sports, they are at their most superior in present time due to Technology improvements and the amount of time now spent on analysing every single aspect of these sports and their tactics. Zidane could do everything, easily, at the highest levels, consistently. He was a joy to watch even just controlling a football.

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  • 26. At 2:06pm on 30 Mar 2010, David Rolls wrote:


    Excellent point. Think of the greatest Goalkeepers, Defenders and Defensive Midfielders there have been over time. Amazing players who very rarely even get mentioned amongst the greatest players.

    We should be talking about the greatest 11 players of all time as they all play in different posiitons - what would your be?

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  • 27. At 2:06pm on 30 Mar 2010, Nick SD wrote:

    I've never been a fan of these 'best player in the world' debates, because I always feel that over 50% of footballers aren't considered. Of course I'm referring to the defenders, goalkeepers and holding midfield players, many of whom fulfill their roles better than Messi fulfills his. Why, when talking about the greatest player in the world, does no-one mention Tony Adams, Pep Guardiola, Gordon Banks to name a few. It just seems so biased towards attacking midfield players or strikers, because they're the ones everyone notices when you watch the highlights. Sure football's about scoring goals, but if you score 5 and concede 6 you've still lost.

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  • 28. At 2:08pm on 30 Mar 2010, Nick SD wrote:

    I've just realised my post says almost exactly the same as 22. It wasn't up when I read through the comments.

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  • 29. At 2:12pm on 30 Mar 2010, a_s_m wrote:


    Sorry, but you're statement about Messi not being able to play in other positions is completely wrong. If you watched Barca last year, you would have noticed that Messi frequently featured as a 'False Nine' (A system also used by Manchester United and Roma under Spaletti) and he switched positions with Eto'o, so that Messi would operate in the centre of the pitch, and Eto'o would be employed chiefly on the right. Case example: Champions League final.

    As for saying Rooney and Messi are head and shoulders above everyone else, again, this is a strange assertion. Higuain has actually scored more goals per minute played than both at the minute, Drogba is in great form, and Ronaldo is still on a goal-a-game ratio at a new club. David Villa is also still banging them in - witness his fantastic hat-trick against Werder Bremen. Rooney hasn't scored outside the box in two years. Messi scored four in the last two weeks. Rooney is a great great player, don't get me wrong, but Messi he ain't. A large factor in his large goal tally this year has been the service from the United midfield; mostly from Giggs and Valencia. Also, people seem to be forgetting the part of the season between the Tottenham game and the new year, where he was abysmal at times. Rooney is world class currently, but needs to work on his left foot, his touch (which lets him down occasionally) and his short passing to be considered on the same level as Messi.

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  • 30. At 2:13pm on 30 Mar 2010, Osgood is good wrote:

    Messi is clearly a very special player and playing in the best team in the world certainly helps him to be that good. As for whether he is the BEST player one would have to consider the criteria. Dribbling the ball to beat defenders is a visualy attractive talent but, in my opinion, should not be given excess weighting. If you value requirements for operating with little space as a lone striker, having to win the ball in aerial duels with big centre backs, defending corners and holding the ball up then Messi doesn't look so good. This makes me wonder how Drogba would be regarded if he was playing for the much loved Barcelona (note: Drogba has scored more goals in open play this season that Rooney despite having missed several games when away with the Ivory Coast). When Barcelona and Chelsea played last year Drogba was the player that stood out, not Messi. In those Chelsea games last year the Barcelona players that really stood out for me were Xavi, Iniesta and Toure.

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  • 31. At 2:15pm on 30 Mar 2010, collie21 wrote:

    The only argument that will be valid eventually in the years to come is if Messi is better than one of his contempories, while it's great to compare him to players past, it's all opinion. We cant even compare stats. So Messi V Ronaldo will probably be the debate in 10 years time.

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  • 32. At 2:15pm on 30 Mar 2010, slakhani wrote:

    Messi is completely overrated. If someone asked me who is the most skillful player in the world it would be ronaldo without a doubt. The greatest goalscorer would be Rooney. The recent goals where messi has got past so many players is because the oppossition were poor in defence. You cant judge players in spain because la liga's standard of football is just not as good as the premier league.

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  • 33. At 2:16pm on 30 Mar 2010, Rob04 wrote:

    Debates on the 'greatest' player are inevitable but ultimately useless: we all have our favourites. Mine were Maradona and Gheorghe Hagi(the maradona of the carpathians!).

    Pele played in such good Brazilian teams along with the likes of Jairzinho, Carols Alberto and even Garrincha that it kind of obscures his influence at the international level.

    It remains to be seen however, whether Messi can single handedly inspire an average Argentina to the WC final like Diego did in 86 and 90. He's also a winger and these types of players don't always get the attention. Would I have Messi or Ronaldo? I'd have neither, I'd have Jimmy Johnstone!

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  • 34. At 2:16pm on 30 Mar 2010, John Lias wrote:

    Post # 15.

    Absloutely spot on. Messi isn' t even the best player HE is going to be ( ie he is only 22 and will doubtless get even better )so to try and make absolute judgments is nonsense at this stage. Has he got the potential to be the best is a much more valid question. Answer : yes.

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  • 35. At 2:19pm on 30 Mar 2010, reckless wrote:

    I think it's ridiculous to call Messi the best of all time just yet. Remember the Brazilian Ronaldo? He was in a similar position to Messi in 1998 and was arguably even more talented and skillful. Yet because of injuries in his later career he will not end up remembered as the greatest ever. A lot can happen in the next 10 years.
    They were also saying the same thing about Ronaldinho 4 years ago.
    However one thing Messi has over those two Brazilians is that he seems to have a level head and doesn't seem the type to be out clubbing everynight and getting fat.

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  • 36. At 2:20pm on 30 Mar 2010, brian wrote:

    For all Messi's brilliance he can still be petulant and disappear in big games just like anyone else.

    This coming world cup will really show us if he has matured enough to be considered among the all-time greats. He has many World Cups ahead of him though, so perhaps it's not time to start talking about putting him in the Hall of Fame quite yet.

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  • 37. At 2:20pm on 30 Mar 2010, Sam wrote:

    I'm not sure how you could have written that Messi has shone on the biggest stage yet Ronaldo hasn't. One thing I won't question is Messi's talent, nor the fact that he has made some incredible performances in the league and CL. Though for Argentina he has never matched this, I for one think we should wait and see what he does this summer. Likewise in last year's CL semi finals, he was nowhere to be seen, extremely ineffective and certainly wasn't the star in the final either.

    The greatest ever? I'm not so sure, I would like to see him past a few big tests this year.

    Good article though, however frequently this topic may be brought up I think we all love debating it. There are inevitable disagreements but as football fans it is great to discuss and shout about our take on the beautiful game, especially as this allows us to reminisce about golden moments from great players.

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  • 38. At 2:22pm on 30 Mar 2010, Storm of Swords wrote:

    Would Messi be as good as he is now if he was playing in the Premier League here? I can't help but think that the Barcelona midfield and the relatively poor opposition in La Liga make him look a lot better than he is, he doesn't perform on the international scene for example.

    I'm certain that more Premier League teams could beat La Liga ones than vice versa.

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  • 39. At 2:23pm on 30 Mar 2010, Bronco3114 wrote:

    Brilliantly biased article there Phil. Do I (and most) think Messi is the best player of his generation ...probably, not definately. Now you are obviously a Messi fan and who can blame you but some of your reasoining is flawed e.g. "Nevertheless, given his ability to excel on the highest stage - perhaps the one reason why Cristiano Ronaldo is less frequently compared with the legends mentioned above". I for one can't really think of a "big stage" Messi has pulled out a performance that Ronaldo hasn't (pending this summers WC). I'd say the reason for all the Messi hype is the prevelence of the Spanish media in the latin world and subsequent prevelance of latin football on preceptions of "beatifull game" on the footballing landscape. For that reason hypothetically no matter what Rooney or anyother footballer acheives in the English game if anyone achieves similar in Spain or even Italy their achevements will always be cast in a better light.

    Also I resent the unsubstantiated and snide comment "unlike the speculation focused on Ronaldo and Kaka last season and Wayne Rooney in recent months". Rooney has made no noise or courted any attention from any other club and has gone on record several times in saying he wants to spend the rest of his career at Utd, so I'm not sure what substantiates "speculation", just Real saying they'd be interested? If they came out and said similar about Messi then what does that do to your theory? I'm not a regular reader of this column but even in the midst of all the gushing La Liga rhetoric there seemed an undercurrent of resentment to Man Utd, don't happen to be a Liverpool supporter do you?

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  • 40. At 2:25pm on 30 Mar 2010, rchrdav wrote:

    If United and Barca swapped Messi and Rooney Barca would keep on winning because Rooney could do what he does but United would struggle because Messi couldnt do what Rooney does.

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  • 41. At 2:27pm on 30 Mar 2010, Thomas wrote:

    Another good poiint, also knowledge of how to be athletically enhanced is a lot more improved. Including correct diet and lifestyle ect.

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  • 42. At 2:32pm on 30 Mar 2010, moeredarmy wrote:

    just what is going on with these people putting wayne rooney in the same category as messi? before the start of this season, there wasnt a word about rooney being the best player on the planet. funny, that isnt it? messi has been regarded as possibly the worlds best player for a few years now, and hes only 22 right now. the only people who think rooney is the best player on the planet are manchester united supporters. FACT. Im a neutral, I dont support any premiership side & any1 who thinks messi isnt the best player in the world by a good distance is seriously deluded. the guy is also an absolute model proffessional.

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  • 43. At 2:32pm on 30 Mar 2010, collie21 wrote:

    If messi is only 22 then we should all be quiet, it's in 4 years time he will be truly brilliant.

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  • 44. At 2:32pm on 30 Mar 2010, killerB wrote:

    I don't know if he is the best ever coz I haven't seen some of the greats of yester year. but at his best, he plays in "god mode". As a cricket fan, this is a term I reserve for Sachin Tendulkar at his very best. Messi is the Footballing equivalent of Tendulkar. Prodigy as a youngster who has reached and surpassed his potential many times over which Messi is well on his way to doing.

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  • 45. At 2:33pm on 30 Mar 2010, MadMancHatter wrote:

    @26 greatest 11 of all time, what a question
    ----------------Van Basten--------

    SO SO difficult - so many players who could fill every position, however i feel this side gives a good balance. Maradonnas dribiling ability combined with Van bastans cleaver link up play and strength up front.
    In midfield Zidane can provide searching passes to release Cruyff, Maradonna and as well as providing goals from midfield. While Beckenbauer will police the middle third allowing Cafu and Maldini to get forward and support their wingers.

    Then Moore's reading of the game allided to nestas arial power will give good protection to Zoff in goal (longest ever international clean sheets record) who can mop up anything the three men infront of him let slip through.

    However ask me that question again tomorrow and ill probably give you a completely different 11!

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  • 46. At 2:34pm on 30 Mar 2010, Wenhao Fu wrote:

    Comparing Messi to Maradona at this stage would be unfair to both. Messi almost still has a full football career ahead of him even he has won so many trophies, it is simply too earlier to tell. At the moment, we can say that Messi has not reach the that level yet. But among all the players, He is definitely closest to reach that level.

    As for Rooney, he can become one of the greatest strike if he continues to progress.

    Two of them are the most exiting young player of their generation.

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  • 47. At 2:34pm on 30 Mar 2010, gbengakoya wrote:

    while i quite agree that Messi is great player. To count him among the greatest pleyers & compare him to Pele & Maradone is a bit of an over-achievement. You havent even mentioned Ronaldo (Brazil) and Zidane who almost single-handedly ensure World Cup Glory for their countries. Messi plays with great players like Xavi & Iniesta & the absense of those kind of players for Argentina takes a bit of what Messi is capable of. If he carries Argentina to World Cup glory, then the comparisons to Ronaldo & Zidane should start, a 2nd World Cup apprearance & great performance like Ronaldo and Zidane might put him on the same plate with these players, until then, he's just be a great player & at club level!!!

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  • 48. At 2:37pm on 30 Mar 2010, John Lias wrote:

    Post # 30

    Please don' t tell me you are trying to make a case for Drogba being better than Messi ? Is that really what you are saying ? If so, words truly fail me.

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  • 49. At 2:38pm on 30 Mar 2010, not_cricket wrote:

    Remember the saying "comparisons are odious". You cannot compare players of a different era as playing conditions and styles have changed. I think Messi is the best player in the world at present and is so far ahead of the rest.

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  • 50. At 2:38pm on 30 Mar 2010, Fun_Bob_NI wrote:

    I'm hearing a lot of deserving names being mentioned for the greatest ever such as Maradona, Pele, Johan Cruyff and Alfredo Di Stefano. But why are we including the likes of Ronaldo, Messi and Zidane when the greatest of all time (as said by Pele and Maradona themselves) doesn't even get a mention.....Mr George Best.

    Yes he was a drunk, and yes he retired too early and yes he wasted his god given talent and yes he could have gone on for years longer and won so much more.

    But he won 2 league titles and the European Cup in a team that was being re-built after the horrific crash in Munich. He also played at a time when when a player had to know how to ride a tackle. The most recent players mentioned above, Messi, Ronaldo etc, wouldn't physically have been able to play back then, they go down too easy, although thats just the way the game is played these days and we are all worse of because of it. Best could dribble, tackle, pick out a pass, shoot, head and had the audacity to do things other players didn't have the skill, vision or balls to try. He was an entertainer as well as a sportsman.

    "Maradona good; Pelé better; George Best."

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  • 51. At 2:40pm on 30 Mar 2010, scouse_mara wrote:

    • 2. At 1:20pm on 30 Mar 2010, Ash wrote:

    And who are you exactly and why should anyone give your opinion more credence than the old geezer you met in the pub?

    Messi is a fantastic player and in my opinion is a better player than Rooney. Still time will show if he can keep playing as he has been doing, or if he will fade away like Ronaldhino did, (I still think he is still a great player, it is no fluke when in a Madrid Barcelona derby he was applauded by the Madrid fans).

    Lets be honest though, I will take Guardiholas opinion more seriously that he will be one of the greats compared to posters on blogs.

    Chris no mention of Zidane?? To me he is the greatest player of all time, but I grew up watching him, whereas my dad will always say Pele was the best as he grew up watching him. In 20 years time, people will talk about Messi being the greatest because they have grown up watching him. Its all down to opinions and years in which you grew up and idolised in football.

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  • 52. At 2:40pm on 30 Mar 2010, kingsofleo wrote:

    What's with all this nonsense about Rooney being up there with Messi? Messi is light years ahead of Rooney. This is Rooney’s first decent goal scoring season in how many years? Messi has been consistently scoring goals in La Liga and Europe. Messi has been mentioned as one of the top players in the world for the last 3 or 4 years. Rooney hasn’t even been in the top 5. There is no comparison. One good season does not all of a sudden make you the best player in the world. It’s the English media and fans with rose tinted glasses on that are building Rooney up to be better than he is. He is world class no doubt about it but Messi is in a league of his own. You have guys like Messi. Then you have Ronaldo, Iniesta, Xavi. Then you have Rooney, Torres, Drogba, Puyol etc. Once he starts doing it year in year out then he can be moved into the Xavi/Ronaldo bracket but until then stop making ridiculous comparisons.

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  • 53. At 2:40pm on 30 Mar 2010, Rioski wrote:

    10. At 1:31pm on 30 Mar 2010, SouthernFairy wrote:

    Messi has been consistently the best player in the world over the last 12 months according to the official rankings...


    ^Those castrol rankings are a joke!

    Sure Messi is at the top and Ronaldo is second, but then the list loses its credibility, Henry ranked 5th, Pique ranked 7th (ahead of Rooney??) and Hyypia ranked as the 10th best player in the world??
    Gimme a break.

    Having said that, Messi is the best player in the world on current form, but please can we stop witht the comparisons with the past greats?
    Messi is 22 - why don't we judge him at the end of his career and stop with all of this hype that surrounds any new talent that emerges.

    Also I just want to add that I think its a pity Messi won't have a decent chance of winning a world cup this year due to Maradonna's incompetance in charge of the national team.

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  • 54. At 2:44pm on 30 Mar 2010, yellowgreenred wrote:

    @ 29

    I'm sorry but Messi is mainly used in the same position, on the right cutting in and allowing Alves to attack the space on the right. It's a good tactic and come to think of it a reason he is not so effective for the national side is that Argentina have no attacking right full back as good as Alves.

    It's fair to say that Rooney could probably play on either flank, centre midfield.. anywhere basically and still be world class. Could you play Messi in the centre of midfield? I doubt it.

    I guess it's how you define a world class player. For me, it is a player that can drag a team up when they are down on their luck, and almost single handedly inspire the team to great things. I think this is perfectly illustrated when you consider United, having lost an amazing 42 goal player in Ronaldo, really needed someone to step up. And Rooney has delivered. For me, that is why he is currently number one.

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  • 55. At 2:46pm on 30 Mar 2010, hedleybyrne wrote:

    ..Remember when #27 said Tony Adams was one of the best players in the world?

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  • 56. At 2:47pm on 30 Mar 2010, Storm of Swords wrote:

    Its debates like these that make Phil McNultys blog about Frank Lampard being "world class" look even more ridiculous.

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  • 57. At 2:48pm on 30 Mar 2010, Jacky Ickx wrote:

    The Brazilian Ronaldo would have been hands down the greatest player evr if his knees could actually handle the abuse his mad footwork actually put them through.

    Even when overweight, unfit and comparatively old he is still pinging them in for Corinthians

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  • 58. At 2:50pm on 30 Mar 2010, adampsb wrote:

    at the risk of sounding JDR'ish where is the objective analysis needed. You haven't even proved that Messi is better than Cristiano Ronaldo or Wayne Rooney never mind Pele, Maradona et al.

    True Rooney isn't scoring outside the box like he used to but is now a more clinical predator like Van Nistelrooy & Raul as he has had to become that. I still believe Cristiano Ronaldo is a better all-round player than Messi as he can score from anywhere, defend well and change games in an instant. like Rooney Ronaldo goes and fetches tha ball rather than waiting for those around him and his physical prowess is also well above that of Barca's number 10.

    Please be a bit more objective rather than fawning over messi simply because he plays for Barca and they play pretty football because chances are he will be out of teh Champions league in 2 weeks time

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  • 59. At 2:51pm on 30 Mar 2010, Football_Monk wrote:

    Usual Messi needs to do it on the biggest stage apparently the PL from the contigent of Manchester United fans on here. To make it clear at first, if he is in the PL, he won't play United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool every week and from the comedy of defending we see from the PL every weekend with the past weeks topping it all, he will have a field day with his amazing abiltiy. For the other post sayinG Ronaldo is the most skillful player in the world, are you having a laugh? For sakes he can hardly beat a player one on one this days let alone show any skill in terms of ball retention and creativity. Yes he is scoring goals but his shot a game which is an average of 8 shots a game for the season with 11 just alone at the game during the weekend, he should be scoring goals. I don't even think Messi is there yet to be compared to the greatest player especially Maradonna and Pele but he is not too far behind but the constant pouring of ignorance on blogs by many people about his game and his PL record is tiring. He might still not score against Arsenal but that does not make him a bad player, those are isolated games. For all you care Ronaldo and Rooney played 7 and 6 games respectively against Spanish opposition and never scored or even assisted. Of course that's before Ronaldo moved to Spain.
    Messi is a great player and certainly the greatest of his generation. Get satelite tv and watch it for your self.

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  • 60. At 2:51pm on 30 Mar 2010, The_Gurkha_Gooner wrote:

    Unless Messi, Ronaldo and Rooney win any world cup for their country, they will be forgetten as soon as they retire, unlike Zidane whom I put among the ten greatest...

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  • 61. At 2:53pm on 30 Mar 2010, DaveWalnut wrote:

    I agree with the other posters at the surprise of the omission of Zidane in these discussions. He is by far the greatest footballer I have witnessed; no player of the last 15 years comes close to him.

    For me a comparison between players witnessed as the events of a match unfold and watching highlights of a game a few decades ago is a fundamentally flawed way of comparing any two players. Part of a players mastery is to be in control of and influence all the events and circumstances part of the game and that can only be understood during a proper build up to the event. Not by watching re-runs.

    It is relaively easy to pick out a player as the current greatest; but it is impossible to pick out the greatest of all time. This is why there is always a selct group of players discussed in relation to this honour; none of that group stand out because comparisons are impossible.

    Messi is on the right track and if the next ten years are as fruitful as the last few he will enter the group of players who are always discussed but never agreed upon.

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  • 62. At 2:54pm on 30 Mar 2010, stuspurs wrote:

    Two points;

    1): To al those who say Zidane was the greatest player ever, tow words: Marco Materrazzi. Single handedly won the world cup for the Azzurri, and ended the career of the most over-hyped bald French Pete Sampras lookalike ever. He only played in quality teams such as Juve and Real Madrid, so you could say he was made to look good like a lot of you have been saying about Messi!

    2): Anyone who thinks Christiano Ronaldo or Rooney are in the same class as Messi is obviously just a very fickle Man Utd supporter who probably doesn't realise football exists outside of the Premier Leagus and the Champs League!

    Can't wait to seee Barca rip Ar**nal to shreds tomorrow night!!

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  • 63. At 2:54pm on 30 Mar 2010, HudsonLA wrote:

    14. At 1:38pm on 30 Mar 2010, OnTheBlog wrote:
    No one - apart from a top form Ronaldinho or Robinho can even be mentioned in the same breath a Messi.

    He may not be the best ever, but he could become one of the best ever.

    Please tell me your joking!! Robindo.....seriously! What makes him so good...oh wait i guess its the fact that he was so good for Man City, they loaned him, and so good for Real Madrid they sold him! He is overrated. I cant even think of anything he has really achieved. He is to much of a baby, and just wants money and expects everyone to love him and think he is amazing. I can think of so many better players than Robinho.....

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  • 64. At 2:55pm on 30 Mar 2010, slakhani wrote:

    "What's with all this nonsense about Rooney being up there with Messi? Messi is light years ahead of Rooney. This is Rooney’s first decent goal scoring season in how many years? Messi has been consistently scoring goals in La Liga and Europe. Messi has been mentioned as one of the top players in the world for the last 3 or 4 years. Rooney hasn’t even been in the top 5. There is no comparison. One good season does not all of a sudden make you the best player in the world. It’s the English media and fans with rose tinted glasses on that are building Rooney up to be better than he is. He is world class no doubt about it but Messi is in a league of his own. You have guys like Messi. Then you have Ronaldo, Iniesta, Xavi. Then you have Rooney, Torres, Drogba, Puyol etc. Once he starts doing it year in year out then he can be moved into the Xavi/Ronaldo bracket but until then stop making ridiculous comparisons."

    Rooney has not had to deliver with goal up till now as that role was being taken by ronaldo and ruud van nistelrooy. Rooney has always been one of the greatest in the world for his sheer desire and the motivational effect he has. Now he has proven he can score when he needs to score the most. Ronaldo's move has just given Rooney the spotlight he wasn't getting under the shadow of ronaldo.

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  • 65. At 2:59pm on 30 Mar 2010, RugbyRugbyRugby wrote:

    How he can even merit serious consideration as the best of all time from some is astonishing, in the same way 4 years ago Ronaldinho being compared to such players was a farce.

    For me the best players I've watched play in my lifetime are Maradona, Ronaldo (Br) and Zidane in that order.

    Of the current crop if they have great careers as each of the above did even with serious injury or bans then Ronaldo (Portugal), Torres, Messi and Rooney have the talent to get into serious consideration of that top 3 but not yet!

    Consider this for all the hype around Messi's (and Rooney's) current season or Ronaldos (Pgl) two back then think back just over a decade to 96-97 when Ronaldo was at Barcalona and scored 47 in 49 appearances and tell me which is the best its not even close. For the record he was younger than any of tehm at that point at only 20 years old so none are currently keeping pace with his career for me!

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  • 66. At 3:00pm on 30 Mar 2010, cantona1968 wrote:

    Why does everything have to be absolute with so many people? Messi is the greatest player ever, without question......Maradonna is the greatest because he won World Cup by himself.......Pele is the greatest ever because he won 3 World Cups.......Zindane was the most gifted player ever......etc etc etc.

    Can we just try something out here? Given the fact that so many great players over the years have played in different leagues, different ages, different teams and had different opportunities why can we not just celebrate them all without ultimately attempting to give a an unworkable and unproveable title as best player of all time?

    Pele, Di Stefano, Puskas, Best, Charlton, Beckanbeur, Maradona, Cruyff, Ronaldo (Braz), Zidane, Ronaldo (Port), Messi, Rooney, Torres etc (I may have missed greats that people think should be included)

    All of the above were/are great players. Let's not try and pick one out and say they are head and shoulders above the others. I don't understand why some people ridicule what were/are great players because they think their own favourite is better. I could understand this if I included players like Robbie Savage, then of course that would be open to ridicule and also the prospect that I should be committed!!!

    Look at the bigger picture, ignore the hyperbole, currently Messi, Ronaldo and Rooney are all playing great. Messi in an unbelievable team, Ronaldo & Rooney in two fairly average teams. Ronaldo has been great in two leagues, Messi & Rooney have only proved themselves in 1. It doesn't really mean anything so let's not make a story out of an non story and expect a well balanced consensus.

    Anyway, everyone knows that Lucas Leiva is currently the world's best player! ;)

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  • 67. At 3:01pm on 30 Mar 2010, HudsonLA wrote:

    What about Kevin Phillips!!! He scored a goal without even knowing about it on the weekend, now that is talent!!!

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  • 68. At 3:05pm on 30 Mar 2010, JamTay1 wrote:

    I think it is to early in the career of Lionel Messi for him to be described as the greatest ever. However, he has the ability and potential to be mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Maradona, Pele, Di Steffano, Platini and Maldini.
    What is surely beyond debate is that he is the greatest player playing at the moment. It is frankly laughable that people are suggesting that the likes of a Rooney or a Drogba (Good players that they are) are superior.
    The argument that Messi would struggle in the Premier league is flawed. Does any sensible person seriously believe that he couldn't play against the Blackburns and Boltons of this world!? Does any sensible person seriously believed that Messi hasn't played against teams before who have tried to muscle or kick him out a game?
    Also those who suggest that Messi is only scoring thanks to poor defending in La Liga, and that he would struggle to score in the Premier League. Have you not seen the general standard of Premier League defending? Darren Bent has 20 Premier League goals this season. I rest my case!

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  • 69. At 3:09pm on 30 Mar 2010, Simon wrote:

    This is where I think the English League doesn't get enough credit, with so many quality teams that can beat almost anyone on their day (e.g Fulham's run in Europe & the success English teams have in the Champions league), it is much harder to outshine team after team unlike Spain. What I am trying to get at and am annoyed about is English based players always seem to be over looked or slightly under rated when it comes to the best in the world or of all time. Phil in your blog you failed to mention George Best (Top 3 ever in my opinion), Charlton, Cantona, Henry, and currently Rooney, Fabergas (carrying a slightly better than average Arsenal team) Torres and to some degree Lampard. Although I feel that Messi this season is at level par to Rooney, Messi getting all the credit which he deserves because of what he did it last season.

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  • 70. At 3:10pm on 30 Mar 2010, John Lias wrote:

    Post # 60

    " Unless Messi, Ronaldo and Rooney win any world cup for their country, they will be forgetten as soon as they retire, unlike Zidane whom I put among the ten greatest..."

    How right you are. I have already completely forgotten about those nonentities named George Best, Michel Platini, Johan Cryuff and Marco Van Basten who never won a world cup.

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  • 71. At 3:11pm on 30 Mar 2010, arvind wrote:

    Pele won 3 world cups johan cryuff was one of pioneers of total football and maradona took a humble team from southern italy to european and scudetto success. Messi is great but needs a long way to go before being mentioned in the same breath

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  • 72. At 3:13pm on 30 Mar 2010, slakhani wrote:

    "Consider this for all the hype around Messi's (and Rooney's) current season or Ronaldos (Pgl) two back then think back just over a decade to 96-97 when Ronaldo was at Barcalona and scored 47 in 49 appearances and tell me which is the best its not even close. For the record he was younger than any of tehm at that point at only 20 years old so none are currently keeping pace with his career for me!"

    The fact is Cristiano Ronaldo scored 42 as a midfielder and the other ronaldo scored 47 as a striker.

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  • 73. At 3:14pm on 30 Mar 2010, Simon wrote:

    I think the debate will have a little more credence in 10 years time, particularly if Messi can continue playing at the same level he is now. There was similar discussion about Ronaldinho a few years back before his form took a spectacular dive, and although it seems unlikely to happen to Messi as well we simply don't know what the majority of his career will hold.

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  • 74. At 3:15pm on 30 Mar 2010, Ginger wrote:

    #2 It depends on who you meet in your local.

    Is he an ex player, a journalist or a coach? Have some respect son.

    I think that it was Platini who when talking about Zidane in his pomp said this 'What Zidane does with a ball Maradona could do with an Orange!'

    I only saw Maradona play once in 1985 when Barca were beaten 3-0 at Old Trafford. The best player on the pitch taht day was Robbo (Not the blogger!) Either way he won a world cup for his country and titles for Napoli.

    Is he the best player in the World, I would say so.

    Best ever? Not yet.


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  • 75. At 3:15pm on 30 Mar 2010, yellowgreenred wrote:

    In reply to moeredarmy who (stupidly) wrote:

    the only people who think rooney is the best player on the planet are manchester united supporters. FACT


    Trust me I am no Man Utd fan. But you don't need to be to realise how fantastic a player Rooney is.

    You also say Messi is a model professional. Not sure about that, I'm pretty sure Chelsea fans could tell you all about his diving antics and let's not forget his ability to spit at opponents.

    What a foolish thing to say.

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  • 76. At 3:20pm on 30 Mar 2010, slakhani wrote:

    #66 "Ronaldo & Rooney in two fairly average teams"
    First of all how can you even compare Barcelona to Manchester United or even Real Madrid. Manchester United as a club own the greatest history and if we are to look at recent form- in the last 20 years Manchester United have won more cups than any other team would imagine to do in such a short period of time. United make Barcelona look average.

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  • 77. At 3:23pm on 30 Mar 2010, simon samm wrote:

    53. At 2:40pm on 30 Mar 2010, Rioski wrote:
    10. At 1:31pm on 30 Mar 2010, SouthernFairy wrote:

    Messi has been consistently the best player in the world over the last 12 months according to the official rankings...


    ^Those castrol rankings are a joke!

    I totaly agree with you here - what a joke. Pique is apparently the best defender in the world?
    Rooney the 3rd best striker in England?
    Hyypia 10th best - hahaha.

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  • 78. At 3:24pm on 30 Mar 2010, a_s_m wrote:

    @ 54

    Rooney in central midfield? What are you basing this assertion on? Have you seen Rooney play there regularly? As for Rooney being good in a wide forward position, I actually partially agree: I don't mind him there against mid-level opposition, but the fact is he cannot cut it there at the top level (Case example: Puyol completely owning him in the Champions Leage final playing as right back)

    And you are neglecting the fact that although Messi may play, or start, more games at wide right, that doesnt mean he cannot play the other positions. That is what i was saying. Look at the goal against United in the final - inbetween the two central defenders. Look where he won the ball for his recent fantastic goal against Zaragoza - left side of midfield. I wholeheartedly agree that he is most effective working in conjunction with Alves, but it is erroneous to assume he cannot play the other positions.

    Also, for saying Rooney single-handedly inspires United and Messi doesnt do the same for Barcelona...again, this is a somewhat dubious claim. Messi has proved to be the difference against Valencia (scoring all three goals - althought credit should be given to Henry who came on at half-time), Zaragoza and many other teams. As someone who watches La Liga regularly, I make this assertion with confidence. Not to mention the fact that Rooney has not done everything singlehandedly at United. His main improvement has come in both movement in the box and aerial ability. Both of these aspects of the game require delivery, meaning someone else is involved! I will repeat again: Rooney has not scored outside of the box in two years. Please do not see this as a criticism of Rooney, who I believe to be fantastic. I'm just trying to show you that to say he does things singlehandedly and Messi does not is inaccurate.

    Finally, your point about Argentina is valid in that Maradona is woeful, and does not know how to get the best out of Messi. Playing Gutierrez at right midfield behind Messi doesn't help matters at all, as his main role is, along with Masch, to provide protection for Veron, who likes to hit the diagonal ball to Di Maria. Messi is often left isolated and frustrated as he is crowded out.

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  • 79. At 3:25pm on 30 Mar 2010, Tim wrote:

    This is a ludicrously premature discussion. There is a consensus that he is the best player in the world at the moment.

    But how can he be compared with Cruyff, for example, when we have Cruyff's entire career to look back on, and only a short snapshot of Messi's career? The example of Ronaldinho is pertinent: brilliance for a handful of years doesn't make an all-time great, no matter what George Best fans might say!

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  • 80. At 3:25pm on 30 Mar 2010, Kapnag wrote:

    Congratulations to the blog writer - you have produced one of the most tedious discussions on the internet

    Just look at some of these comments - awful stuff.

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  • 81. At 3:26pm on 30 Mar 2010, KB wrote:

    50. At 2:38pm on 30 Mar 2010, Fun_Bob_NI wrote:

    "Maradona good; Pelé better; George Best."


    Spot on there mate !!!

    :) :) :)

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  • 82. At 3:27pm on 30 Mar 2010, Peter wrote:

    Messi if definately the best player at this moment in time, but the best player of all time? No(t) (yet?), there`ve been others mentioned above, but time will tell.

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  • 83. At 3:27pm on 30 Mar 2010, slakhani wrote:

    Are you trying to say that you see better football in la liga then the premier league? La liga is the most boring league i have ever watched. There are only two decent sides: Real Madrid and Barcelona. The other sides are not even to the standard that they would ever dream of even playing in the premier league.

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  • 84. At 3:30pm on 30 Mar 2010, United Dreamer wrote:

    Those who say Messi is better than Maradona have never seen Maradona. I never saw Pele so I don't compare them but Maradona is definitely the best player I have seen in my lifetime and Messi doesn't even come close imo. I still don't see him as being better than Zidane tbh.

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  • 85. At 3:34pm on 30 Mar 2010, United Dreamer wrote:

    "Cruyff, Di Stefano, Maradona, Pele and now Messi were and are great players of their time but to compare them is inevitably a flawed task."

    No George Best Phil?

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  • 86. At 3:35pm on 30 Mar 2010, kosherdod wrote:

    Er not being funny minshall

    but where on earth did you get this "discussion over whether he is actually the best player of all time" guff form??

    Only i've never heard that one to date, and can't imagine anybody daft enough (unless he played in a United shirt, and we were on the United 606MB) to even suggest the idea.

    I short i think you made it up lad !! LOL you press types do make me laugh tho :-)

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  • 87. At 3:35pm on 30 Mar 2010, stuspurs wrote:

    76. At 3:20pm on 30 Mar 2010, slakhani wrote:
    #66 "Ronaldo & Rooney in two fairly average teams"
    First of all how can you even compare Barcelona to Manchester United or even Real Madrid. Manchester United as a club own the greatest history and if we are to look at recent form- in the last 20 years Manchester United have won more cups than any other team would imagine to do in such a short period of time. United make Barcelona look average.

    Seriously son, go lie down in a darkened room. United are purely and simply a brand. They are NOT a football club, and haven't been for at least 10 - 15 years. Make Barca look average? Some people shouldn't be allowed out on their own!!

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  • 88. At 3:42pm on 30 Mar 2010, cakedeath wrote:

    THE DIFFerence between Messi and Rooney/Ronaldo is Messi's ability to make something out of nothing nearly all of the time whereas Rooney/Ronaldo can usually only make something out of something. Ronaldo's goals for Utd were mainly team goals set up by Rooney or Giggs and usually counter-attacking goals in the last 20mins of games when the opposition was chasing the game. The same goes for Rooney, most of his goals are team goals and not from individual brilliance. Don't get me wrong Rooney's goals are usually either from a great finish, great first touch, nice turn or a bursting run but how many times do you see Rooney go past 4 players into the area and blasting home. No, Rooney's goals are made by his running off the ball so he relies on his team mates picking him out for him to score. Fair enough it's a team game but Messi can do it all on his own and most of the time which is remarkable.
    Ronaldo can never be as good or excite the same as Messi for one reason- Messi game is instinctive, Ronaldo's is not. Ronaldo has learned his game his skills, his body is peaked to play football at speed with good strength and a powerful shot. If these qualities don't work he gets stuck. That's why A. Cole had him in his pocket most of the time they met, Cole is quick and a great defender and he could nullify Ronaldo. Cole had much more trouble with Messi. Messi instinctive dribbling coupled with his freaky acceleration mean he is near impossible to stop. I remember one instance when from a standing start Messi took on Cole and completely skinned him but his cross led to nothing. I never before or since seen Cole been made to look so ordinary.
    Best of all time- I think Ronaldo (Brazil) was heading to the summit until his knee injury so if Messi has a long, injury-free career he'll be up there I'm sure. The thing is most people side with Maradona as the greatest ever. Maybe Pele was but he goes back too far in time for most so Maradona is the yardstick it seems.
    When I watch Messi I see Maradona but at 1.5x the speed.

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  • 89. At 3:43pm on 30 Mar 2010, hackerjack wrote:

    The best right now? yeah sure. But best of all time? Those comparisons will have to wait another 10-15 years yet. There is always someone around who has the chance to get into that top bracket with Pele, Maradona and Di Stefano, during the last 20 years we have seen Sammer, Zidane, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Critiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Giggs, Rooney and plenty of others make their cases. It is only after their careers are over (or at least the downturn has set in) that we can tell.

    Messi may get better and better with time, he may have already peaked and remain as he is or he may tail off and be half the player he is now by the time he hits 28. We dont know. so far he doesn't even meet most fo the criteria as he has yet to really make a huge difference in a big tournament (good in Barca's ECL win yes but not instrumental). That may come this summer in South Africa, it might even come before that in the ECL 2010.

    As for the comparisons with Rooney, there are strong arguments for Rooney in that case, he has been driving MU almost single handedly this season, he is a bigger and better threat in the box than Messi and he has less off-days (though Messi has had very few of recent). He is not as skilled or entertaining of course but that isnt all that matters.

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  • 90. At 3:44pm on 30 Mar 2010, Football_UK wrote:

    Messi belongs to a small elite club, where you go to see a football match, just in order to see him perform.

    In my book, he's the best player in the world, these days.

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  • 91. At 3:46pm on 30 Mar 2010, stuspurs wrote:

    #83, Slakhani
    I never actually said la liga was BETTER than the prem, just that there is more to football than the prem! But, as it happens, when watching Barcelona, then yes, I do see better football in la liga

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  • 92. At 3:46pm on 30 Mar 2010, David Jahngir wrote:

    stick to athletics

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  • 93. At 3:47pm on 30 Mar 2010, kingdollar wrote:

    To talk about him as the greatest is most definitely premature. If he performs like this for the next 8 years, then yes, he will definitely go down in folklore alongside Pele, Cruyff, Best, etc. As said in the article, I don't think you can say who is the greatest out of them all, they were just the best of their generation. I thought Ronaldinho was going to be the greatest but look what happened to him? Give Messi time.

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  • 94. At 3:50pm on 30 Mar 2010, SirMouseburger wrote:

    I agree with what several people are saying here, Messi is undoubtedly a brilliant player, but i have never before or since seen a player who could make me marvel at his skill like Maradona could. He was totally amazing and as has been mentioned, not only did it in Spain, but also took a small club (Napoli) to the summit of the Italian league.

    Messi in contrast is surrounded by brilliant players, and playing in a league which to be fair is not the most competitive in the world. He does disappear quite often on the international stage, and i will be interested to see how he performs at this World Cup.

    Comparisons with Pele and Maradona are very premature, we should look back at the end of his career and make those comparisons, not at the age of 22...

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  • 95. At 3:52pm on 30 Mar 2010, David Jahngir wrote:

    Higuain has political problems at Madrid and will likely leave before Benzema, he does not always get on with Ronaldo and also needs a new contract and wants Galactico wages where as Florentino Perez does not see him as a Galactico, this will result in Benzema signed by Perez being used as a striker next year and Higuain sold.

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  • 96. At 3:57pm on 30 Mar 2010, Add_Slug wrote:

    65.RugbyRugbyRugby, I echo your remarks.

    Greatest ever player of all time!! nowhere near at this present time. Ronaldo (Brazil) in his prime was the greatest player of the last 20 years, no one has or has had his level of skill, power, speed and composure.

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  • 97. At 4:01pm on 30 Mar 2010, Simon wrote:

    To all of you that are thinking that Rooney is single handedly carrying United this season is talking absolute nonsense. How many of his goals have been quality assists????? I am a United fan and feel Rooney is our best player and is up there with Ronaldo and Messi but a forward alone doesn't carry a team.

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  • 98. At 4:02pm on 30 Mar 2010, FedupwithGovt wrote:

    Best player at the moment - yes.

    Best player ever - give it another 6 years.

    Rooney as good as Messi - you must be having a laugh. Deluded Man U fan eh!

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  • 99. At 4:04pm on 30 Mar 2010, Comebackwhenyouvewon18 wrote:

    How can anyone have this debate without mentioning the the awesome and mighty G Nev? Gary Neville is far superior to Maradona, Pele, Beckenbauer, Zidane, Rooney, Ronaldo (both) and especially Messi.

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  • 100. At 4:04pm on 30 Mar 2010, The Importance of Being Didier wrote:

    Over the past 5 or 6 years there have been many footballers that have been labled the best in the world with the chance to become the greatest ever. These include Ronaldinho, Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo. However, the thing is, is that these players only seemed to have one fantastic season (Ronaldinho in 2005/06, Kaka in 2006/07,Ronaldo in 2007/08) and in these seasons they picked up all the awards and all the trophies, yet in the season after they seemd to fade (they were still fantastic, but nothing compared to the previous season) and then their crown was passed on.

    With Messi, it's different. In 2007/08 when Ronaldo ruled the world, Messi was right up there with him, in my opinion he was the better player in the CL semi between the two. Then of course Messi took the throne in 2008/09 and rightly so, and now it seems as though he's doing exactly the same as last season by being the best player in the world.

    People will remember you for one season, sure, but history will only remember you if you do it year in year out, so I don't see why Messi won't become the greatest.

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  • 101. At 4:13pm on 30 Mar 2010, cantona1968 wrote:

    76. At 3:20pm on 30 Mar 2010, slakhani wrote:
    #66 "Ronaldo & Rooney in two fairly average teams"

    Slakhani, I stand by what I said. I am a Utd fan but I believe that the individual players in Utd's team are pretty average compared to Barcelona's. That doesn't mean to say that Barca would beat Utd, but Utd's current team is built more on work & team ethic rather than individual flair. On current form the only players Utd have that would get into the Barca team are Rooney, Evra & Vidic. Just being practical but in relation to this debate it means that Messi is playing with better players week in, week out so his performances could be skewed positively because of it.

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  • 102. At 4:14pm on 30 Mar 2010, kosherdod wrote:

    The last player i've seen truly comparable to the 4 or 5 legends, is Ronlado. Real Brazilian Ronaldo that is.

    On his day he wasn't unplayable, he was completely unstopable. Never before or since have i seen so much power, pace, skill and technique in one player. Messi may be the best in the world now at 22, but he was the best at just 19.

    In my humble opinion, sickening injuries robbed us of the next and long awaited undispute "legend" to join the big 4 - 5.

    Messi has many years to go tho!! as does C.Ronaldo. But like a lot of people on here if sheer skill is your barometer they not near Maradona or two footed Pele.


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  • 103. At 4:15pm on 30 Mar 2010, Were Ngoging to Ibiza wrote:

    If Argentina had a manager rather than an overweight fool (great as a player, useless ever since) then maybe Messi would be doing better at international level. Maybe Diego just doesn't want Messi to take the spotlight away from him?

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  • 104. At 4:19pm on 30 Mar 2010, OhhhhMattyMatty wrote:

    Rooney isn't even the best striker in England!

    Never mind the best player in England or in Europe or the world!

    Would Rooney get in Spain's national team? Nope.

    Fabregas - Xavi - Alonso - Iniesta

    Torres - Villa

    Where's he getting into that side? Right back?

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  • 105. At 4:20pm on 30 Mar 2010, FedupwithGovt wrote:

    99. At 4:04pm on 30 Mar 2010, Comebackwhenyouvewon18 wrote:
    How can anyone have this debate without mentioning the the awesome and mighty G Nev? Gary Neville is far superior to Maradona, Pele, Beckenbauer, Zidane, Rooney, Ronaldo (both) and especially Messi.


    That's made my afternoon that has :D

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  • 106. At 4:32pm on 30 Mar 2010, Ichi_1 wrote:

    "Besides, his international career is hardly spectacular."

    Yeh i mean hes only got a copa runner up medal, a fifa youth championship winners medal (and was player of the tourney) and an olympic gold. But yeh for a 22 year old thats terrible, youre right. Someones obviously done a wikipedia search and seen his goals ratio is 1 in 3. But bare in mind he plays on the wing and the assist he gets more than puts him upto 1 in 2. The guy is the bets in the world by a mile at the moment and will certainly be held up there with the greats come the end of his career. What you have to reaise is hes only young and is still improving

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  • 107. At 4:33pm on 30 Mar 2010, Hookers_armpit wrote:

    "Personally, I think that such comparisons are nearly always fatuous."

    COuldn't you have just left the blog there Phil? I think you hit the nail on the head... column inches to produce I guess.

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  • 108. At 4:33pm on 30 Mar 2010, gts1 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 109. At 4:34pm on 30 Mar 2010, olrion wrote:

    Messi is an amazing player, but comparisons with legends such as Pele and Maradona can only be made when his time in football is spent. No doubt he is well on his way to becoming one of the greatest players to grace the sport, but you can't hand out titles until he has completed his development and we can all look back at what he's achieved and then assess if he's the best ever.

    I've read that a few people share my doubts in Messi and as much feel ridiculous questioning his ability he has never really recreated his Barca form with Argentina. There is still time to turn that around, but truly great players shine where ever they play. Messi hasn't done that so much with Argentina....yet!

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  • 110. At 4:35pm on 30 Mar 2010, stuart_mc wrote:

    Messi's not bad, but I would have the great Peter Beardsley in my team rather than him every time. Pure genius. I think we ignore great players that are on own doorstep. What about Le Tissier? He only played at Southampton, but compare his best goals to Messi's.

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  • 111. At 4:37pm on 30 Mar 2010, JamTay1 wrote:

    @ 104

    I have to agree with you there. I couldn't see Rooney getting past Villa or Torres into that team. What Rooney is doing this season David Villa has been doing for season after season.

    However I see you have put Fabregas down amongst your 4 midfielders. Where is David Silva? Fabregas will probably be on the bench for the World Cup, which only highlights the fantastic talent Spain have at their disposal.

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  • 112. At 4:38pm on 30 Mar 2010, Ichi_1 wrote:

    "As for the comparisons with Rooney, there are strong arguments for Rooney in that case, he has been driving MU almost single handedly this season, he is a bigger and better threat in the box than Messi and he has less off-days"

    Nah Cant agree. Rooney is single handedly putting the ball in the back of the net. But thats it. How many of his goals are dribbles or long range efforts? Most have been from crosses. Now im not knocing that, hes agreat finisher but Messi not only creates for others he actually makes most of his own goals. Thats something Rooney isnt capable of. Honestly theres no point comaring them. Rooney is a superb striker like Torres but if you asked every fan whod theyd rather have out of Messi and Rooney, the only ones saying Rooney would be UTD fans

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  • 113. At 4:41pm on 30 Mar 2010, JMcK wrote:

    At 1:20pm on 30 Mar 2010, Ash wrote:

    Who are you and why should I give your opinions more credence than the old geezer I met in the pub?

    Well, who are YOU, and why do you have to be so rude? If you don't like the standard of blogging on BBC sports, go somewhere else instead of being childish.

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  • 114. At 4:41pm on 30 Mar 2010, arundini wrote:

    No World Cup or Copa America - so far too early to bring out the "greatest of all time" label.........

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  • 115. At 4:43pm on 30 Mar 2010, Double A wrote:

    I fail to include Messi as the greatest ever until he can learn to use his right foot.

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  • 116. At 4:49pm on 30 Mar 2010, Conrad99 wrote:

    everyone knows that Peter Schmeichel was the greatest ever player. end of

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  • 117. At 4:50pm on 30 Mar 2010, daibach21 wrote:

    Definitely think we should wait until the end of his career to decide whether he's the greatest or not. His achievements with Argentina will no doubt play a large part in that. I was a bit confused by your sentence "better than Maradona, but also Pele, Johan Cruyff and Alfredo Di Stefano as well." I'd have thought that being better than Maradona would have automatically made him better than the others? Pele excepted perhaps!

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  • 118. At 4:51pm on 30 Mar 2010, aka_bluepeter wrote:

    Spain have two Messi's and two Pele's.
    Messi is undoubtedly one of the best players in the world in his position. Ten out of ten for danger posed but he cannot do it in his own and barring Tevez I don't see that many midfield master chefs in this or any other team.
    None of them will be playing alongside master chefs Xavi and Iniesta. My money is on Torres and David Villa being the goal scoring stars of the world cup. It's like being served food in a Michelin starred restaurant. Cannot go wrong.
    Unfortunately Argentina, England, Portugal and all the others are just not in the same league as Spain.
    Barring a lightning strike or injury to two or more of that quartet, Spain will win the world cup, it's a racing certainty.

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  • 119. At 4:52pm on 30 Mar 2010, MartinLip wrote:

    Neither Messi or Ronaldo come close to Vidic's ability.

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  • 120. At 4:54pm on 30 Mar 2010, slakhani wrote:

    You said it yourself. The players may not be individually spectacular but as a team manchester united are unique. They are a brilliant team as they know how to work as one. That's why although ronaldo is scoring goals at real madrid, the team isnt doing so well as they are reliant on individual talent to produce. At Manchester United Ronaldo was most effective as there weren't 11 players in the team who were competing against each other to stand out.

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  • 121. At 4:55pm on 30 Mar 2010, A wet windy night in Stoke wrote:

    For the English, Maradona was never a 'great' player even 10 years after he finished his career. Now you read that he was brilliant.. Let's raise the bar for Messi time. What if it was Rooney and not Messi we were debating here?
    Messi is better than any other player you can think of when they were his age. No arguments about that.
    As for Johan Cruyff, Messi is better than Cruyff ever was, period. The jury is still out on Maradona, Plele and Di Stefano. Messi is more skillful than the lot - that is for everyone to see, but they achieved more than him. The guy just turned 22 though. Give him time.

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  • 122. At 4:55pm on 30 Mar 2010, RedWhiteandermblue wrote:

    Messi's the best right now. He has a long way to go to deserve comparison to Maradona. Maradona completely transformed the teams he was on, including Argentina in '86 and '90 and Napoli. Messi is an excellent capstone to a brilliant team at Barca, but has never shown the ability to make a top-level team much, much better.

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  • 123. At 4:58pm on 30 Mar 2010, The Importance of Being Didier wrote:

    For those of you saying that Rooney is perhaps better because Messi, (apparently unlike Rooney) only has to face joke defenders in la Liga.

    Are you telling me that the EPL backlines are solid? As they use to be in 2006 and 09? No. I defy you to give me a team outside of Man Utd and Villa who have done a decent job defending this season? (Even Villa let in 7 on Saturday)

    Now don't get me wrong, I love the EPL, I'm English and proud, and whilst between 2006-2009 I think we had the best league in the world, now with the departure of Ronaldo, Mourinho and Rafa buying in absoloute tosh, along with the style of football the likes of Stoke and Chelsea play (don't get me wrong, I respect Stoke a lot) you can't really say that we have the best league in the world.

    I think it's a myth that Spanish Defences can't defend, their defenders may not be as 'You shall not pass' as ours, but they are more technically gifted and tactically astute.

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  • 124. At 5:00pm on 30 Mar 2010, Sensible Discourse wrote:

    At 22 years old, he has a tremendous amount of potential to one day be compared to the greatest players of all time. However, I do not think he is really that close to Maradona's prime form yet. That guy won titles and World Cups as part of mediocre teams - he literally beat teams on his own, unlike Messi or Rooney who play in amazing teams and are given every assistance to demonstrate their undoubtedly very special talents. Just think of 'that' goal by Maradona against England in the World Cup - I've never seen another player that could do that.

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  • 125. At 5:03pm on 30 Mar 2010, RoyaltyinTheChampionship wrote:

    Not sure how you can judge the "greatest" since surely it varies depending on criteria which will amost certainly vary between individual people. Where I think Messi would get more votes than say Rooney or Drogba is he is the type of flair player that just makes you say "wow" with some of the goals he scores and things he does. Ronaldinho was similar at his best in doing things that just seem to defy what you are expecting him to do. We don't tend to get many players like that in this country. Joe Cole a few years back and Matt Le Tisseur at his best are the two that come to mind but you would be struggling to think of too many more and whilst these two were a joy to watch they are almost considered "luxury" players in England because it's felt they don't have the pace and power demanded of most top players.

    In short what I'm trying to say is you can take a video of Messis goals and show them to someone who doesn't follow football and they would still find it entertaining and that is special and certainly allows him to be ranked alongside Pele, Cryuft or Maradonna.

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  • 126. At 5:08pm on 30 Mar 2010, slakhani wrote:

    In response to 112
    Rooney as a player = honest,play for the team, clever and productive
    Messi as a player = greedy and big headed and sometimes produces individuall goals

    Rooney does not attempt go for individual goals as he's not greedy. Messi attempts ten times to do everything himself before scoring a spectacular individual goal.

    Is the best player rated on whether they can score individual goals or if they play in the way that they can produce wins for the team?

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  • 127. At 5:08pm on 30 Mar 2010, James Rigby wrote:

    Two words: Ray Parlour

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  • 128. At 5:14pm on 30 Mar 2010, slakhani wrote:

    "everyone knows that Peter Schmeichel was the greatest ever player. end of"

    I completely agree. There will never be a keeper like schmeichel again

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  • 129. At 5:15pm on 30 Mar 2010, LFC_1RP wrote:

    He is greatest player I have ever seen grace a football pitch, (I'm aged 24). I have no doubt he will be widely recognised as the greatest footballer of all time in years to come.

    If the Agentine FA had any sense, they would get Maradona out, and if they appoint a manager with just two brain cells then they might give messi the chance of turning a WC they have no chance of winning into a real successful campaign.

    Zidane, Brazilian Ronaldo, Portugese Ronaldo, Henry and all the other superstars over the years are in there own right fantastic footballers, but the *can' find suitable superlative* in Messi is one step further then anything the football world has ever seen. Its something beyond description, that you can't work on or learn in training, it's not tangible but there's just something there (usually you describe it as the X-factor or its special or its genius... for players like Zidane, Ronaldo x2 and Henry these superlatives are spot on), but for Messi, they don't do his brilliance justice. It's a god given talent that takes football to a level at which its never been performed.

    I find the comparison to Maradona and Pele hard to comment on as I wasn't around to see pele and I was too young to remember Maradona's days, from what I've seen they are astonishing players. Pele very much different to messi and maradona, but the two argies very alike, but messi is no doubt in the same league as those two, nothing I've seen of Maradona and Pele makes me think otherwise.

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  • 130. At 5:21pm on 30 Mar 2010, Fun_Bob_NI wrote:

    In ref to # 79
    'brilliance for a handful of years doesn't make an all-time great, no matter what George Best fans might say!'

    Are you talking about the greatest player, such as natural talent, all round abililty and a game winner. Or, the greatest playing career, such as honours won, teams represented, World Cup appearances etc.

    Obviously George is lacking in terms of playing career longevity, and World Cup appearances (no fault of his own), but in terms of natural talent, he's right up there.

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  • 131. At 5:23pm on 30 Mar 2010, tskills wrote:

    messi. what a tidy player. best in the world right now. but still has to prove himself on world stage to be compared to maradona, pele and zidane

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  • 132. At 5:25pm on 30 Mar 2010, Javiesta wrote:

    Greatest player ever Diego Maradona. Won Serie A twice with Napoli ( on his own ) , Won the world cup in 86 on his own and got Argentine to the final in 1990 on his own.

    If Argentine, who have an average team by their standards win the world cup with Messi as top goal scorer having won games single handedly. Then and only then can the comparisons begin.

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  • 133. At 5:29pm on 30 Mar 2010, kc0075 wrote:

    To be considered the best player in the world 1) He has to play well at the world cup 2) He needs to come and play in the EPL as La Liga is not as good as the Premier League.

    Rooney has to be recognised as the best player in the world because of the standard of the opposition week in and week out.

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  • 134. At 5:33pm on 30 Mar 2010, _druss wrote:

    Maradona had all Messi has in his game with the addition that he often played quite deep in midfield controlling possession and running the game. He was Messi and Xavi in one player.
    The 86 World Cup was something I can't see Messi emulating. And what he did at Napoli was a miracle.
    Nevertheless I love watching Messi, but if he had been born in England we would have told him he was too small and he'd now be doing an office job or something.

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  • 135. At 5:48pm on 30 Mar 2010, John Lias wrote:

    Post # 133

    " Rooney has to be recognised as the best player in the world because of the standard of the opposition week in and week out."

    What, you mean Portsmouth, Hull, Burnley, West Ham, Bolton, Blackburn, Sunderland etc ? Some great teams there, to be sure.

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  • 136. At 5:51pm on 30 Mar 2010, mrsouthamerica wrote:

    Its funny that judgement is reserved upon Messi because he plays in a good team (barcelona)or questions are raised over the standard of his league. Yet Pele is always lorded upon his three world cup medals wihtout any detraction, when in fact his contributions in the three successes werent as significant as those of garrincha & later jairzinho. Nor do we note that the majority of his 1000 goals came within the regional leagues of brazil or the north american league. In stark contrast Maradona dragged a average Argentina to consecutive world cup finals, took Napoli to 1st & 2nd in the northern club dominated italian league for 4 consecutive seasons and broke the river/ boca 1/2 dominance with the relegation fodder of argentinos juniors! He more than any player in history could on his own make a average team great.
    Returning to the ability of Messi, those who question his EPL expoilts should rewind to his destruction of chelsea's entire left flank in 06 (the match report is on the bbc by the way!)or perhaps the silent old trafford crowd in 08 when he ripped through their defence only for a cynical Scholes to take him out on the edge of the area. Perhaps the more recent memory of 3 chelsea players being drawn to him like a magnet only for Messi to pop the ball off to Iniesta in space or the CL final when he rose and silenced those who questioned his heading will make the blinkered think a little before doubting his ability.

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  • 137. At 5:52pm on 30 Mar 2010, desertwalker wrote:

    "In the last two weeks, however, the Messi debate has intensified, and some have claimed that not only is he better than Maradona, but also Pele, Johan Cruyff and Alfredo Di Stefano as well."

    That is ridiculous if the comparison in Spain, indeed also involved Pele and Di Stefano. I thought they understood a little more about football than most people in Europe would. I am disappointed!

    I can understand the Maradona comparison, because they had similar characteristics and positions. They are eerily similar in their playing style as well. The only difference, was that Maradona was a great free kick taker and Messi less so. Other than that, pretty much both genius' in terms of trickey, creativity, close ball control etc.

    But Pele is a ridiculous comparison. He was playing mostly as an inside forward (ok Messi plays there as well) or attacking midfielder, or even as an out and out striker but not so much on the wing (unlike Messi). Pele was strong in the air, had pace, skill and most of all was a goalscoring machine. Messi is not that at all! He is just well, a magician, whilst Pele was a beast.

    Di Stefano, well could play anywhere across the midfield, and he could do anything. Stick Messi where Zidane played, I wish him all the best, but he wouldn't be as good as he is where he is playing now, and I am convinced by that. He is not a playmaker, just a magician. Its foolish to compare Messi with these players. It doesn't add up

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  • 138. At 6:00pm on 30 Mar 2010, Roonaldos wrote:

    He is not the greatest ever and he is not even definitely the best player in the world. Ronaldo, Rooney and even Iniesta are not that far behind. Against English opposition the one who has shined for me has been Iniesta and Messi has not looked any better than a lot of other Barca players. La Liga teams do not have great defences, are not physical and some are more the quality of League 1 (Xerez for example).

    In the EPL I am not sure Messi would be regarded the best, I think Ronaldo and Rooney would surpass him. In a league where technical ability and dribbling are rewarded Messi excels, but in a league that is physical and has strong defences would he really be the best.

    Also why is George best never mentioned when people say about the best player ever. For me it is between Maradona, Pele and Best.

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  • 139. At 6:05pm on 30 Mar 2010, Sam Wanjere wrote:

    It is human to compare, but it foolhardy too to do so. No one player will ever be the absolute. Trophies alone cannot measure a player's worth. There are many unheralded players who provide behind-the-scenes-unglamorous services that often lead to excellence from every Ronaldo or Messi. It was Cruyff himself, arguably one of the world's most technically gifted players, who thought Neeskens better than him in all round ability. The gifted Garrincha thought very highly of a defender, Orlando Peçanha de Carvalho (known simply as Orlando), as did Zidane about Claude Makelele.

    It is such players who provide platforms for any team's excellence. Dietmarr "Didi" Hamann basically won Istanbul for Liverpool, containing Kaka in the second half of the Champions League final. Comparisons are meaningless, even when a soccer god, Messi, is compared to other deities like Cruyff, Maradona or Pele.

    [Sevilla's sacking of Jimenez] Clubs must respect their coaches. The best way to demonstrate this is to allow them time and space to originate programs and implement them. Without the Manchester United board giving SAF grace to "fail" for his first seven years, this present dynasty would never have been built. How many times will Real Madrid come to rue undermining their Pellegrini's by announcing, in advance, coaches they've set sights on - well before the season is over!

    Impatience at club level (management) and from fans is killing the beautiful game. We can't all win today, neither does any team possess the divine right to win or lose. The youngsters should also be taught that winning at all costs is not winning. There might be wisdom in referring to Baron Pierre de Coubertin's ideals of sportsmanship and honest endeavour in participation.

    Back to the question, which I'll treat as rhetorical. I certainly hope not. I hope to keep seeing talent as his churned out more, however rare (I can wait), and such talent giving me continued faith and devotion to the future of soccer. What we can all lose is unhealthy competition, bad sportsmanship, silly fans and any related vice.

    Good blog Phil.

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  • 140. At 6:08pm on 30 Mar 2010, FoxyPV wrote:

    Just one point that will separate the likes of Best, Pele, Cryuff etc from modern day greats - You can barely touch a player now without it being a foul - defenders are afraid to touch forwards.

    Rewind back to the era of Best, Pele and Maradona - these players were absolutely massacred by everyone with tackles from behind, attempted leg breakers and they still managed to show some of the best skill ever seen.

    Messi is vastly talented individual but you can't compare across eras because of the way the game changes.

    He is one of the best players in the last 10 years without doubt but he has to go that wee bit further to get up near Zidane.

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  • 141. At 6:11pm on 30 Mar 2010, becksidol wrote:

    Hmm...wait for CL and WC...then you can judge him

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  • 142. At 6:13pm on 30 Mar 2010, Teiam - problem solved wrote:

    Messi isn't the best player in the World, it has to be Ronaldo, great with both feet, great in the air, very fast and he's proved himself at clubs such as Sporting, United and Madrid. At United he had a team built around him and broke scoring records, adjusted to fast paced play and played for a team in transition, Messi has always had it easy and when he doesn't (National side) he doesn't perform, the only player that can compare to them two is Rooney, he's fantastic for club and country, he puts in the same level of performance which can't be said for Ronaldo, Messi, Lampard and Gerrard, sadly because he's English, Rooney won't really get the comparison he deserves, he's one for few players to be World Class for club and country, the others being The Ronaldo, Zidane etc... yet the Spanish league, which for sure is inferior to the Premier League, allows two top players to ease their way to glory week in week out, where players fail in the Premier League because it's too fast, too strong for them (Morientes, Rossi, Forlan) they succeed in Spain.

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  • 143. At 6:13pm on 30 Mar 2010, The Realist wrote:

    The level of football knowledge amongst most people here makes me laugh, because a player doesn't need to win the World Cup to be "greatest".

    These same people who think a player does need to win the World Cup go on to mention Cryuff as a contender of the "greatest".

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  • 144. At 6:19pm on 30 Mar 2010, Osgood is good wrote:

    People's constant references to Rooney undermine the debate. Rooney is clearly a great player but cannot be talked about as the BEST footballer overall when he isn't even the best centre forward in the premier league (although Chelsea are unpopular and Drogba's diving makes him personally unpopular he is still clearly a better player than Rooney - for instance if you measure it by goals scored per game (excluding penalties). Torres may also be better than Rooney. Where Messi excels is that he is arguably the best as his position, with maybe only Ronaldo competing (in my opinion Ronaldo is better as he is more rounded and it seems easier to mark Messi out of the game than Ronaldo). I happen to think that Drogba is a true great. He will never get the recognition for it though, for so long as he is playing at Chelsea or in England where his play-acting antics are correctly criticised. But watch him week in week out and you see a guy who persistently wins possession and consequently creates chances that other forwards like Rooney or Torres cannot do.

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  • 145. At 6:22pm on 30 Mar 2010, Uninventivename wrote:

    Messi is a brilliant player and undoubtedly the greatest club player in the world at the moment. His consistency for Barcelona is remarkable, but I am only consistently underwhelmed by his international form. Messi has definitely produced moments of magic for Argentina but is certainly not anywhere near as good for them as he is for Barca. For example, Villa and Rooney are much more important to Spain and England than Messi is for Argentina. To be one of the greatest you definitely need to be a figurehead of a national team in my opinion. No doubt he will go down as a great player, but one of the greatest? Not yet.

    It's also uncertain whether he'll get Fifa POY - this tends to go to whoever was in a team that did well in the Champions League and (in the right year) the World Cup, so it depends how Barca and Argentina do.

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  • 146. At 6:25pm on 30 Mar 2010, HonatSteel wrote:

    Comparing Messi to the player most espert in the beautiful game consider as the greatest of all time. I am speaking of the one and only PELE, is almost paramount to blastfamy.
    Compare them when if plays for 17 years at the highest level of the Compare them if the rules of the game were left as they were when Pele played.
    Compare them when Messi wins 3 world cups for his country.
    Compare them when Messi scores over 1000 internatinal goals in his carreer.
    In the meantime let's compare him to the mere mortals but not to PELE.

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  • 147. At 6:28pm on 30 Mar 2010, Mookos wrote:

    I hate this 'The Greatest Player in the World' debate as it is such an inane argument with few definitive rights or wrongs and the worst part being that you can't help but get sucked in to it, so...

    To say that a 22 year old, I'll say that again, a 22 year old, is being considered by some as the 'Greatest' is quite frankly a joke and an insult. Messi is unquestionably one of, if not the best player in the world at the moment playing in one of the best clubs sides in recent memory, but greatest ever, I think not. Maybe in 10 years time if he carries on as he is.

    Personally, Zidane is the best player I have witnessed regularly, always a joy to watch and Maradonna being the best outside of my era of football. I dread to think what a Maradonna in his prime would make of the current style of defending and rules all but outlawing tackling. (Another problem in comparing players from different eras)

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  • 148. At 6:29pm on 30 Mar 2010, Craig Baker wrote:

    Interesting article, however, I'm contsantly amazed that Diego Maradona is continually considered one of the greatest footballers of all time. Great footballer yes, but he's always placed in the same catagory as Pele and Cruyff. Surely his achievments as a footballer must considered alonside his long term drug problems (i.e. expelled from USA '94), and the cheating (Mexico 1990). So is Ben Johnson the greatest sprinter of all time? Catch a grip.

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  • 149. At 6:31pm on 30 Mar 2010, MattHow wrote:

    this debate is futile as players in england are always completely underrated
    No room in this list for
    all time ; henry

    and at the moment; fabregas

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  • 150. At 6:36pm on 30 Mar 2010, kinglofthouse wrote:

    Messi is without the doubt a fine player but I will never give the title "greatest" to any player who uses his other peg for standing on only.

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  • 151. At 6:42pm on 30 Mar 2010, saphiregolf wrote:

    It is beyond me to why Phil Minshull is not mentioning Zinedine Zidane in his article. Zidane was a player who had everything, a playmaker that could totally control and dominate a game and the opposition, his passing abilities (long and short), his eye for the game, his shots (left and right), his technical ability, his determination, his ability to challenge the defenders and go pass and his goal scoring (often the important goals when it really matters like World Cup in France with 2 goals and the Champions Leauge Final in Glascow etc). He was a player who was always at his best when it really mattered. He was a complete fotballer, otherwordly to watch, magical! It most be a serious error of judgement not to mention him together with Pele and Maradona. I could recommend Phil ta have a look at YouTube were he could get a quick reminder of the macigal things Zidane did throughout his carrier. Don't even mention how he outplayed all the hyped players from Brazil (Kaka, Ronaldinho etc) in the latest World Cup Semifinal. As for Messi, it is far to early to judge how he will rate against the greatests of all time.
    He is a fantastic player, the best in the world at the moment, but he needs to score the important goals on the biggest stages and he needs to develop his game further. He rarely likes to pass the ball and he does not control the games like ZZ.

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  • 152. At 6:45pm on 30 Mar 2010, FC_Barca wrote:

    This debate has started to gather pace around the world because of comparisons of the great players at the age of 22 which Messi is. He has won more then Maradona did at that age and is well ahead of him in terms of development. Maradona didnt peak till age of 26.

    Messi is still only 22 and does not turn 23 till June - as for this debate about international level this does not mean as much as it did back in the day. Now the Champions League is the biggest competition in the world so if you shine in that you have a right to be class as great.

    Compare Messi's goal and ASSIST record to that of Rooney's and Ronaldo's and you will see a big difference. And what people fail to mention is that Messi is two years younger so how good will he be in two years. This debate about playing in a great Barca team is again not relevant, as without Messi this Barca team is good at best - Messi is what makes them great.

    All I hear about Rooney or Ronaldo being better is physical attributes, he can run quicker, he is better in the air etc etc... Messi is 5ft 7 and is playing professional football like he is in a school playground. So Rooney can play 5/6 position well does not make him better then Messi... open your eyes people....

    Messi is the best player since Ronaldo (Brazilian) and has potential to be the best ever....

    Zidane as people have failed to mention had great players around him and did not single handedly take France to the world cup/Euro champions wins.

    All this talk about Ronaldo being better is from people who cant see outside the PL... Messi would murder defences in the PL, what he has is pure natural skill that cannot be taught what Ronaldo has are tricks that can be taught there is a big difference. Just go and You Tube Messi and you will see at the age of 22 he already has 20 geniunely great goals of any generation....

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  • 153. At 6:50pm on 30 Mar 2010, MarcusAurealius wrote:

    Honestly all this Messi stuff just makes me want to scream. All his wonder-skills have been against mostly mediocre opposition in La Liga, one of the least competitive leagues in Europe. Outside of this, I have only really seen him in action for Argentina (I tuned in late at night to watch the rather laughable Argentinian team nearly get knocked out by Bolivia and Uruguay), and Messi was practically non-existent there. I also saw him against Chelsea last year and in two full matches he didn't get one shot on goal, while the Barcelona "wonder team" were played off the park.

    OK, he played well in the final last year and scored a goal, but certainly nothing we haven't seen before from Ronaldo, Zidane, Gerrard etc. Rooney isn't exactly a million miles off what I have seen from Messi.

    No, what we have here is a very good example of the Latin talent for hyperbole. Better then Maradona or Pele ?? Please. Maradona, for all that I hate him, he made that ball hover around his foot like a wizard. He danced around tackles from world class defenders that would have broken his legs and made a seriously good England team look stupid all on his own on the biggest stage on earth under immense pressure.

    Get real. He is a very good player, and maybe one day he will be day, but not now. Not even close. So please don't cave in to the hysterical Latins, its what they do best.

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  • 154. At 6:55pm on 30 Mar 2010, laughingdevil wrote:

    A great season does not a great player make.

    All of the Undisputed Great/World Class players (I've said it before and I'll say it agian, any logical argument against even by a tiny minority means they are not world class) have performed consitantly over an extended period.

    Pele/Marodona, Both lead teams and dominated opposition over several world cups / continental championships
    Di Stefano had 5 CONSECUTIVE European Cups, 14 national championship winners medals and many more medals besides
    Add people like Zidane, Platini etc and Messi doesn't hold a candle to any of them

    The media should stop with the hype, why does every player have to be "the next x" The amount of next Mardona/Pele/Ronaldo (brazil) I've seen in my 20 years following the game is insane.

    Ronaldihino being a prime example. Anyone who has seen the guy play knows he is probably one of the most talented footballers ever. I genuinely believe that he could have become the greatest footballer ever. COULD being the operative word. He didn't, and now he never will.

    Give Messi 5 years and then judge him.

    Same with Rooney and Ronaldo.

    All 3 are good players, all 3 have the potential to be great players. They are currently some of the form players in world football.


    In my opinion there are no great players currently playing the game at the top level. Hopefully in a few years that will have changed.

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  • 155. At 7:05pm on 30 Mar 2010, 16thMay1998 wrote:

    #83 Slakhani, "La liga is the most boring league i have ever watched... There are only two decent sides"

    Erm, for me, you just perfectly described the English Premiership.

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  • 156. At 7:15pm on 30 Mar 2010, GigiBuffon1 wrote:

    Phil, are you concerned about the lack of competitiveness in La Liga with Barcelona and Real Madrid being a long way ahead of the rest?

    This is especially concerning for Spanish football because of the financial worries other clubs are suffering from.

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  • 157. At 7:20pm on 30 Mar 2010, The Importance of Being Didier wrote:

    Here is my own PERSONAL favourite all time XI. They may not be the best (in fact, a lot of them aren't) but it's my team, and I play rubbish if I want to!


    A. Cole


    Ronaldo (Brazil)


    C. Ronaldo

    I know it's a mad formation, but you could throw Henry and Zidane out wide and Ronaldo and Crespo together up front.

    Just for the record, for me, the Brazilian Ronaldo is my personal best of all time. Just my generation, along with Zidane and Owen.

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  • 158. At 7:22pm on 30 Mar 2010, thefrogstar wrote:

    A Golden "Shoe-In" for the award?

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  • 159. At 7:25pm on 30 Mar 2010, messiisgod and ozil is a genius wrote:

    Messi's the best player in the world by some way, ahead of the excellent Rooney and way ahead of the ridiculously overhyped Ronaldo. The most brilliant footballer since Maradona; whether he can reach the latter's level of play will depend a great deal on whether Argentina can find a settled national side.

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  • 160. At 7:34pm on 30 Mar 2010, _druss wrote:

    "He was a player who was always at his best when it really mattered."

    Yes, Zidane was the biggest of big game players and no-one leaves him off an all-time greatest list. Rivaldo too was an incredible player. So was Ronaldo, 44 goals in 47 games for Barca 0_o and Romario was simply the best finisher the game has ever seen, he makes most of today's top flight strikers look like athletes with limited technique, swining their foot at the ball in the box and hoping for the best (which is what they are).

    I'm not Brazilian or anything, just saying it's easy to forget the sheer quality that's been and gone.

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  • 161. At 7:35pm on 30 Mar 2010, slakhani wrote:

    In the premier league there are usually 4 sides who are contenders for the title (I say usually because liverpool are 'supposed' to be decent). But what makes the premier league unique from la liga is that there are also many other competitive teams like spurs, city, villa, everton and fulham. This is what makes it unpredictable and nuch more interesting.

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  • 162. At 7:36pm on 30 Mar 2010, waalex wrote:

    how has no one mentioned Mágico González? far more skillful than messi will ever be.

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  • 163. At 7:39pm on 30 Mar 2010, assensai wrote:

    This is the best blog I've read on this website. Informative, provocative and I can't resist responding to it (which is the whole point of a blog). Perhaps you can give your colleagues in the UK a few tips!

    Yes, Pele, Cruyff and Di Stefano but what about Zidane, Bergkamp, and going a little further back players like Eusabio, Beckenbauer, the infamous George Best and the pearl of all time, the gentle giant named Duncan Edwards who perished in Munich. All of them must surely come into this forum of debate not to mention a chap called Stanley Matthews (and honestly, he really was as good as history recalls). Maradonna? Well, OK. He really was good but for me, not great. I also exclude Ryan Giggs; a better Welshman was John Charles! Both Ronaldo and Rooney have some way to go yet before they can join the elite.

    Today, just one "wonder goal" brings accolades of greatness and it all gets out of perspective. Like both Rooney and Ronaldo, Messi has tremendous potential but he is still quite a way short of the Golden Shoe and Rooney may well beat him (just have to wait 'n see).

    I read somewhere a comment earlier today that football actually transcends sport. And I believe that; football is far too global to be just a sport. That is why there is so much debate; it is very personal and we all have space to air our views. Even the Olympics need football to make it watchable! Even politicians all over the world crave votes from football people as do religions. Well, what would men do without football? Even girls (or should I say sex)come second!

    Thanks Phil. A really good blog.

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  • 164. At 7:51pm on 30 Mar 2010, assensai wrote:

    Oh dear! The BBC has over-extended itself yet again. What's the point in writing a response to a blog when the "moderators" cannot respond in a timely fashion? Look, if the BBC cannot dedicate enough resources to enable a vibrant website to flow properly then it should sell it to a commercial enterprise that can do the job properly.

    Yes, I know, this is an inappropriate response and against the house rules!!!!! To the moderators, your response is not of merchantable quality. Probably not your individual fault but, if you can't do it on your budget, then try to preserve your job by working for someone that is dedicated to what you do!

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  • 165. At 7:56pm on 30 Mar 2010, David Rolls wrote:

    45. (Sorry for the delay)

    Ok, work has finished and here is my all-time best 11, playing in a 1-3-1-3-2 Sweeper formation:

    Goalkepper: Zoff
    Sweeper: Scirea
    Defenders: Moore, Baresi, Maldini
    Defensive Midfielder: Beckenbauer
    Attacking Midfielders: Cruyff, Maradona, Best
    Strikers: Ronaldo, Pele

    Moore & Maldini could cover the full-back positions. What do you think?

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  • 166. At 8:02pm on 30 Mar 2010, David Rolls wrote:

    That's the Brazilian Ronaldo (before his knees went - although he still scores buckets of goals)

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  • 167. At 8:12pm on 30 Mar 2010, Enlightened wrote:

    Why is Wayne Rooney being mentioned here? There is always a desperation to hype up any English player the minute he starts to do well. The guy has not impressed me for a few years now. This season he has started to score more goals and look alot better (probably because the diving queen left the club). But even then, he is nowhere near the likes of Kaka, Messi and Ronaldinho at their best. The brazilian Ronaldo and Zidane were the best of their generation some years ago. And so far the greatest (over a long stretch of time) appears to be Pele and Maradonna. Although there will be a few other footballers which other fans prefer.
    Messi is currently the best player in the world, but i wont say he is better than his legendary countryman Maradonna just yet. Lets wait and see.
    I would like to mention that there was one quality Pele had which puts him above alot of modern footballers. He was a MASTER at avoiding leg breaking tackles. I have studied some old footage. People constantly tried to injure him and he was able to jump, side step and somehow evade alot of tackles.

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  • 168. At 8:14pm on 30 Mar 2010, Messi_Is_God wrote:

    Read my username. There you go.

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  • 169. At 8:14pm on 30 Mar 2010, gts1 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 170. At 8:17pm on 30 Mar 2010, lordgunner wrote:

    France won the world cup because of a great defence (the greatest back four probably Lizarazu Desailly Blanc Thuram who never lost a match while playing together) not because of Zidane (France would have won even without Zizou 2 goal in final)who i think he was at his best in Euro 02.Still the most beautiful player to watch in my live time and one of the greatest.
    winning the world cup do not make you better than another player .And nobody can win a competition single handedly.Football is a team sport,a player can win alone a match,but never the trophy.

    HA yes anyone saying Nesta in old time greatest team ,please great player but not that great.The best CB of all time in Italy is Baresi

    In my Lifetime
    Cafu Desailly Baresi Maldini
    Eboue :D zidane Maradona
    Romario Van Basten

    eboue is the greatest FACT! The chosen one has spoken

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  • 171. At 8:29pm on 30 Mar 2010, David Rolls wrote:


    Scirea kept Baresi out of the Italian national team until he retired. Scirea is the best central defender ever. You'll find comfirmation of Wikipedia.

    Don't get me wrong, Baresi was the second best defender of all time, closely followed by Moore & Maldini.

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  • 172. At 9:08pm on 30 Mar 2010, 16thMay1998 wrote:

    #161, Just don't think that stands up to scrutiny. Since 1995, only Blackburn have managed to snaffle the title away from Ars/MU/Chel. During the same timeframe, three Spanish sides outwith RM and Barca won the Spanish league (and Valencia even did it twice).
    And are you really saying that Valencia, Sevilla, Athletic Bilbao and Deportivo would struggle in the Premier League? Struggle to beat Hull, Stoke, Bolton, West Ham, Portsmouth et al?
    In my opinion, the Premier League is anything but unpredictable. Just look at how one of the 'competitive teams' you cite got on at Stamford Bridge at the weekend.

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  • 173. At 9:15pm on 30 Mar 2010, kinmad4it wrote:

    My best XI
    Goalkeeper : Schmeichel
    Defenders : Maldini, Cafu, Baresi, Moore
    Midfielders : Maradona, Beckenbauer, Best, DiStefano
    Strikers : Pele, Stoichkov

    I'd put Cryuff in there but he'd cause too much unrest and unsettle the team. Hristo get's the nod over Van Basten as he's my all time favourite player.

    As for Messi being one of the greatest ever, it's way too early to judge something like that, give it 7 or 8 years and then we can properly see if he is.

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  • 174. At 9:16pm on 30 Mar 2010, Joe Lewis wrote:

    Although Messi's undoubtedly the best player in the world right now, Maradona will take some beating.

    He single-handedly (no pun intended) won the World Cup with an Argentine side that would have struggled to make the quarters without him. His form for Napoli was exceptional, his best in Europe.

    Maradona was a one-man soap opera and had a lot of excess baggage but was the most truly gifted footballer I've ever seen.

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  • 175. At 9:24pm on 30 Mar 2010, TaconazoRedondo wrote:

    #21 - SJ - What you don't know about football would fill a Qu'ran-sized book. You've not really got a clue have you??

    Messi is easily the best player in the world right now, but the best of all time is a debate for another day. Maradona is the greatest player to ever play football - no question. And I think there is zero chance of a player like Messi playing in England. I had to laugh at the various nonsense like 'la liga is a joke' and how Messi would struggle against the likes of Bolton... what a joke. I've forgotten more about football than you'll ever know mate...I'm actually watching Frank Ribery now, and despite Bayern being a joke in places (Demichelis??) I think Ribery would be the best player in the P'ship if he joined a team in England. Overbloated, overhyped, about to deflate, lacking in technical ability... these are adjectives and phrases I would use to commentate on the English game. Not applicable to La Liga.

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  • 176. At 9:43pm on 30 Mar 2010, Nazmul wrote:

    I'm probably one of the only people who doesn't rate him that highly. Ok firstly I would like to say, defensively La Liga is an incredibly poor league (apart from the top 3 teams), this is why it comes as no surprise to me how he effortlessly he skips past players, because they are scared he would fall over and it would cost them a foul, wheras in the Premier League, it is much more physical.

    And also, he plays brilliantly for barca, breathtaking at times almost, but how comes it's not the same for Argentina? I'll tell you why, at barca he is surrounded by 10 other brilliant players, who as you said play around him, thus making him look more impressive. Say for example you were to put Messi in a Valencia team, I guarantee this conversation would not even be happening. For that reason I believe Ronaldo is a better all round player.

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  • 177. At 9:47pm on 30 Mar 2010, FortyEightK wrote:

    Is Messi the best player in the world at the moment? Possibly, although it's tight between him and Rooney. Can he be compared against the greatest ever? You're having a laugh, it's way, way too early to tell yet! He certainly has the potential, just like Rooney does, but we have to see what they've acheieved by the age of 30 and if they're still as effective by then. The greats certainly were. Pele still had the speed of a gazelle and wonderful skill even in his thirties, Maradona was still the most auacious dribbler the world has ever seen at his, and Zidane still had the grace, touch, vision, skill at his (Zidane arguably got better in his last few years).

    Out of the two I think Rooney has the slightly better game due to his team work and relative lack of speed (even though he's still quick). As injuries and games take their toll Messi (and Ronaldo) are going to lose that lightning pace and unless they are like Giggs who completely changed his game they may end up like fat old Ronaldinho. Rooney has the positional awareness in his locker, so as he loses his speed he can rely more on this; much the way Sheringham played his entire career.

    Oh and Maradona certainly didn't play for below par teams. Yes, he was absolutely the reason they were elevated to winning championships and cups, but when you consider that the Napoli team contained the likes of Zola, Careca, Ferrara, De Napoli and Alemao it's starting to look like a very decent team!

    He's still the best player ever for me and that hurts as an Englishman!

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  • 178. At 10:08pm on 30 Mar 2010, JamTay1 wrote:

    That old Napoli frontline Magica. Maradona, Careca and Giordano. That was some strikeforce.

    Even in a World Cup year where the blinkered Premier League and English fans take hysteria and brow beating to new levels, it still shocks me that some people believe that Rooney is better than Messi. Rooney is now doing the same job for his team that Van Nistelrooy used to, nothing more, nothing less. A very effective player, but not comparable to the unique talent that is Messi.

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  • 179. At 10:11pm on 30 Mar 2010, PabloPiatti wrote:

    5 years ago we were having the exact same discussions about Ronaldinho and we all know whats happend there. Somehow I don't think messi will go down the same route but lets start comparing him to the greats at the end of his career. Legends such as Pele, Maradonna, Zidane etc. have all achieved their status' as the 'best ever' due to their ability to inspire their team on the biggest stage the world cup, lets just wait a few years yet.

    As for the best player at the moment Messi and Ronaldo can't be seperated; both have amazing goal scoring records and the ability to influence big games although I feel Messi may have a better team around him at Barca than Ronaldo does at Madrid

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  • 180. At 10:17pm on 30 Mar 2010, MarcusAurealius wrote:

    Hysterical Latins spouting their usual rubbish. The same sulky stuff you see when they aren't winning Formula 1 (change the rules so Brits cant win it), and the Champions League (change the rules so the Brits can't win it).

    Yada Yada, like the Armada, always the best until someone sticks it up 'em.

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  • 181. At 10:24pm on 30 Mar 2010, James Wiltshire wrote:

    messi is outrageous, the best and at the same time most predictable player since maradona. everyone knows what he's gonna do - pick up the ball, storm into the box and score. everyone sees it coming yet not one player can do anything about it.

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  • 182. At 10:26pm on 30 Mar 2010, messiisgod and ozil is a genius wrote:

    Quite hilarious that some people still think Ronaldo is better, even when his own manager, team-mates & the majority of Real's fans don't. Never mind, there's another chance for football education at the Emirates tomorrow night.

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  • 183. At 10:32pm on 30 Mar 2010, Virtuet wrote:

    He was signed at the age of 13 and inducted into their academy at La Masia after the club agreed to fund his medical bills for growth hormone treatment to correct some small adolescent physical problems if he moved to Spain, bills which had been too expensive for his Argentine club, Newell's Old Boys.
    This is disputed in Argentina. Newell’s Old Boys this is not that small a club Walter Samuel, Heinze and Rodriguex have come through this club. Sounds like a bit of Barcelona propaganda a bit like the “Raul was stolen from Athletico Madrid story” despite there being no record of him ever playing for them.
    However I think Messi is not overated.

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  • 184. At 10:32pm on 30 Mar 2010, MarcusAurealius wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 185. At 11:19pm on 30 Mar 2010, MC wrote:

    In reply to coments 117 and 121. Your comments relating to Johan Cruyff are incredably ignorant, short sighted and dead wrong! Cruyff was at his peak in the late 60's, early 70's, his last truely great year being 74. In that period he displayed some of the most wonderful skills ever seen on a football pitch and an intelligence and grace not seen before or since. He not only dominated football matches but also world football then, and influenced the game for many years since.
    Pele and Maradonna are always set up as the two greatest players. Cruyff was quicker in movement and brain than either. As skillful as either and more electrifying to watch.
    You should remember that cruyff was only the second player to become a proffessional footballer in Holland. Him inspiring the Dutch to a world cup final in the early seventies would be similar to someone taking Norway to a world cup final in the early 80's.
    Anyway, the world cup is pretty much like a summer five-a-side tournament. It's played after a long hard season, in the summer and usually in a hot country. It's hard enough having a kick around in England in the summer never mind Mexico!
    Football played at it's highest level is in the European cup. which you may notice Cruyff won with his Ajax mates three times on the trot. And would have won it another three times on the trot had Cruyff not decided to go to Barcelona. He had a great first season there but it was a fairly mediocre side which he helped take to their first Spanish championship for centuries, the Spanish cup and in the following season steered them to an unlucky defeat to Leeds United in the semi final of the European cup.
    You might consider this for a moment! Cruyff when he had decent players around him was near on untouchable. The Dutch made absolute mincemeat of an England team in a 1976 friendly match which had some very good players in it.
    Messi, who is very good against ordinaty sides, a bit like Ronaldo, and who was continuously running like a headless chicken into blind alleys against Manchester Unites in last years European final, is not in cruyffs class, sorry! Ask anyone who was around in the early 70's about the electrifying presence of cruyff on a football field and how dominant he was, especially for Ajax.
    Your two comments are very symptomatic of the decline in any thoughtful, informed opinion. Try getting away from the cliche'd ridden generalities of tabloid culture for a while!!

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  • 186. At 11:30pm on 30 Mar 2010, Phil wrote:

    Messi hasn't even done enough to be called the best player currently playing yet. Thierry Henry, David Beckham, Paul Scholes to name but three players who performed at the highest level for years in the best league in the world. As for all these doughnuts banging on about Rooney, give me a break, Torres is a better striker in a far worse team.

    As for comparing Messi to the likes of Maradonna stop now before my sides split. Such comparisons are almost as stupid as giving Obama the Nobel Peace Prize for doing nothing.

    In five years if Messu is still a top player we can discuss "best ever" until then he is just a 2 season wonder.

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  • 187. At 00:18am on 31 Mar 2010, Viks wrote:

    Hi Phil,
    What do you feel about Zidane being the best player till date, he had won everything that had to be won and has often carried his club and country himself???


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  • 188. At 00:29am on 31 Mar 2010, YoreLore wrote:

    Any comment saying Messi is overrated, could not do it in England or is not as good as Rooney must come from an English fan who is completely biased towards their precious league and players...EMBARRASSING

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  • 189. At 00:31am on 31 Mar 2010, barcelonatangerine wrote:

    I watch Barca evey week.I am still a Blackpool fan but I have watched football all over the world. I am old enoughto have seen Matthews, Mortenson and Finney and alsom George Best-of all theses great players I always thought Best was the greatest,but I really believe that in future football fans will realise how geat Lionel Messi is.

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  • 190. At 00:41am on 31 Mar 2010, BigGiantHead wrote:

    I know we don't like to talk about it but Barca took him at 13, a tiny kid with some talent and farmed him into what he is. They treated him like a racehorse, pumped him full of growth hormones (even at 16 he was much too small) and made sure he lived and breathed Barca. And they'll have you believe its for the good of football but it all boils down to money, just ask the hundreds of kids they cast aside along the way making sure they had a new saviour. Its not like he's a catalan, they search the world to make their own private zoo.

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  • 191. At 01:11am on 31 Mar 2010, FootballFanatic wrote:

    My best ever XI

    Goalkeeper: Zoff
    Defenders: Maldini, Scirea, Baresi, Cafu
    Defensive Mid: Makelele
    Midfielders: Maradona, Cruyff, Messi
    Strikers: Pele, Ronaldo (Brazil)

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  • 192. At 01:12am on 31 Mar 2010, margaretthatcher07 wrote:

    Has nobody noticed that Messi only seems able to play with one set of tactics? It means that Barca will always play 4-3-3 to accommodate him and why he so often fails to deliver with Argentina. He would struggle playing for any other of the big clubs because he doesn't have the correct setup to work with, ie. coming in from a right-froward position with two great passers in midfield to work with. In a 4-4-2 or 4-2-3-1, two of the most commonly used formations, he struggles to adapt. Should he play up front, as a winger, as an attacking midfielder? To get the best out of him at the World Cup Maradonna will have to change Argentinas tactics and hope that Veron and Gago/Banega can provide the passing skill Messi needs to benefit from.

    The other so-called greatest can often adapt to different tactical situations; Zidane could play anywhere across midfield or behind a striker and still dictate the game; Cruyff was celebrated for his ability to personify total football; Ronaldo (BR) could play off of another centre-forward, link with a second striker or lead the line on his own; Maradonna could conceivably play in any forward position. These are only a select few players but it shows that Messi is only 22 and cannot be judged yet, while also having limitations so just let him play.

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  • 193. At 01:33am on 31 Mar 2010, BrownEyesBlue wrote:

    ...God, there's some fatuous rubbish been written on here, so might as well add my sixpence worth!! my humble opinion, Messi is way too young to be even considered as the greatest of all time, and I think he's got some way to go to be close to consideration for that honour (however, I will happily concede that he is the best in the world at the moment). And whilst it is indeed purely hypothetical to compare players from different eras in terms of the speed and physicality of the game, there are some factors that do help. Based on those factors, there can be only one "Greatest Of All Time" - Pele.

    He was two-footed (rules out Maradona), could score with his head as well as any, scored over 1000 goals in his professional career (not including internationals, AND pre his comeback in the US leagues!!), had the ability and speed of thought (witness his "run round the keeper trick" vs. Uruguay in the 1970 World Cup semi-final), and won 3 World Cups, scoring goals in 2 finals - the first one at the age of EIGHTEEN (he scored two), and his third after international comeback, post 1966 - in other words, he had a peak of success for over TWELVE years at international level, when the game was undoubtedly more physical than now. Item 33 on this blog tried to put forward the fact that playing in the greatest World Cup side ever somehow lessened him (WTF?!), but the fact that even today he stands out in such a great team surely gives credence to his influence, ability and achievements?'s really simple as far as I'm concerned - until another player can perform on the national and international stage at the highest level without resorting to cheating (Maradona's Hand Of God), or tarnishes his undoubted ability on the field of play (Maradona & Zidane), and has the ability to do more than just have one foot for standing on, there is only one!!

    Rooney? Oh, come on...not even close.

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  • 194. At 02:00am on 31 Mar 2010, max_100 wrote:

    the comparisons with maradona should be answered this summer.

    the team that maradona played in were very average at best in 86, and he did everything himself, no one could begrudge him if they were to award the trophy to him alone for his performances.

    messi has more talented individuals around him in the national side, perhaps he doesn't feel quite comfortable in the team yet because his performances have been pretty lame, i really hope he grabs the tournament by the bits and conquers all in front of him, there aren't many sights better than a player who is good, and knows he is good and beats teams alone.

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  • 195. At 02:04am on 31 Mar 2010, Plummy wrote:

    Its impossible to have a greatest player of all time. The only thing i dont get is why so many players are not mentioned, what about these players (and think about each one and how good each was individually and the honours they won):

    George Best
    Kenny Dalglish
    Stanely Matthews
    Bobby More
    Graeme Souness
    John Barnes
    Matthew Le Tissier
    Paolo Rossi
    Roberto Di Biaggio
    Ronaldo (Brazillian CF)
    Alan Shearer
    Ian Rush
    Malcolm McDonald
    Billy Liddle
    Michel Platini
    Paul Gascoigne
    Gary Linekar..

    List goes on..

    the best player ive ever seen is Graeme Souness.. he COULD DO EVERYTHING.. off the ball and on it..

    its personal preference anyways!


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  • 196. At 02:12am on 31 Mar 2010, Plummy wrote:

    My possible best ever eleven..

    ----------------Peter Schmeichel--------------
    Carlos Alberto----Bobby Moore-----------Baresi
    -----------------Graeme Souness---------------
    Billy Liddle-------------------------Maradonna
    ----Z.Zidane---Kenny Dalglish---George Best---

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  • 197. At 02:23am on 31 Mar 2010, James wrote:

    I think we need to accept that we are fortunately in the presence of several genius sportsman: Messi, Rooney,Federer, Nadal, Woods and (I'm hoping Rory McIllroy). I'm missing athletics because i don't know them. Either way , don't compare with the past, there's no point.

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  • 198. At 04:37am on 31 Mar 2010, Carl G wrote:

    Pele is SUPERMAN and the greatest at the same time. Pele is to footie what Muhammed Ali is to boxing, there will never be another.What you can do with the ball at your feet is the same,50 years ago or now. Pele at 17 was great. He was so good that he could fill stadiums from london to Peking,everybody wanted to see him. Everybody in the world knew him,he was the most known person. gentlemen,1000 goals in top competetition from 17 to 29. How many of you saw him between 18 and 25 at his prime! No defender could stop him, he was leathal with both feet,he could jump higher for a header that any player,ask Gordon Banks, and he was 29 for that one.He never missed a penalty! He got assaulted by more defenders than any forward I know,just because they could not contain him. defenders treat Messi like a treasured one compared to Pele. Check out the Portugese game w/ Brazil in 66. He invented the bicycle kick and the 1st I know to score a goal from the 1/2 line with the goalie off the line. Pele could do something I never saw anyone else do, he would at times kick the ball on a defender and as it bounced off he would catch it before it hit the ground and he would be gone like a flash. Check out the games he played against European clubs for santos and see him Continually embarass defenders,AND HE WAS FAST,faster than Messi and Maradona, not to mention his trickery and ball sence. Last but not least he was a gentleman cause he knew he was the best he did not have to have an attitude.

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  • 199. At 05:38am on 31 Mar 2010, chung777 wrote:

    Lets not compare Messi with Rooney or Ronaldo! Messi is completely different from other players. Messi's feet is very quick and he strike the ball very quickly. but if you look at other players like Rooney or Ronaldo, they have very powerful kick and use their body strength to the fullest. that is why they are a different players by far.

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  • 200. At 05:39am on 31 Mar 2010, chung777 wrote:

    go messi go!

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  • 201. At 06:00am on 31 Mar 2010, chung777 wrote:

    Great to watch them play!

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  • 202. At 07:28am on 31 Mar 2010, realthing wrote:

    For me Messi is the closest player I have seen to Maradona (the player) in my lifetime. He has exactly the same ability of having such quick feet that he can avoid the tackles. I read somewhere that when he dribbles a ball he makes four touches a second! Plus he has even repeated scoring two of Maradona´s most famous and infamous goals. So far in his young career we have witnessed him score two incredible goals similar to the one Maradona scored against England. Once in the Copa De Rey against Getafe a few years ago and another only a few weeks ago against Zaragoza. He has even scored a “Hand of God” goal against I think Atletico Madrid. Messi no doubt is the new Maradona. However for me whilst being a very talented player to consider him the greatest he needs to produce it on the World Stage playing for Argentina. The worrying thing is that this should not be too hard as Argentina have a great squad that is more than capable of doing something this summer. The only good news is they have a clown for a manager the so called greatest player Maradona.

    In my opinion the greatest player is Zidane as he is the only player that was capable of making the beautiful game beautiful at the highest levels of the game. Whilst scoring goals no doubt is important it is only part of the deal for me.

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  • 203. At 07:49am on 31 Mar 2010, columbus_gunner wrote:

    Better than Pele?????????? Are you crazy????? Pele????? There will never be another like Pele and Messi should be proud that his name even grazes that of Pele. Pele was complete and flawless.

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  • 204. At 08:16am on 31 Mar 2010, rufc_dean wrote:

    Messi is without a doubt in the top 10 players ever.Although pele was amazing at international level he only ever played in brazil and america.He never played in europe and won championships in the elite leagues of the world, such as england,spain or italy.Messi is the best atttacking player in the world at the moment and only ronaldo,torres and maybe rooney in terms of attackers comes close.When the term best player in the world is used how can you compare a defender to an attacker or to a keeper?.I prefer best keeper,defender and attacker category maybe?.

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  • 205. At 08:17am on 31 Mar 2010, Dr Ron Sinclair wrote:

    Messi is not the greatest player of today let alone of all time. He is not as complete a player as Wayne Rooney for example, not to mention the likes of Andres Iniesta, Christiano Ronaldo and Cesc Fabregas. Rooney can shoot with both feet, can head, helps out in defence and is physically much more of a handful for opposition than Messi who relies almost solely on his left foot to register his undoubted brilliance. As for players of the past, Phil mentions the likes of the phenomenal Johann Cruyff, Alfredo di Stefano and Pele - all of them considerably better than Messi because of their all round skills and dominance. Then you have George Best. Those who witnessed Best, at his best (so to speak)have seen genius in action on the football field. Best could do things no-one else ever could. And why are defenders not mentioned - great players like Franz Beckenbauer and, in our own era, Paolo Maldini and Franco Baresi? What about goalkeepers too, Gordon Banks, Lev Yashin and their ilk? No, while comparisons are odious, Messi is perhaps best measured up against Maradona. So far he has some way to go - eg in the cauldron of a World Cup - before he matches up there.

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  • 206. At 08:23am on 31 Mar 2010, chung777 wrote:

    as the time passes by, many young and talented footballer emerge from every nook and corner of the world. likes of Messi, Rooney, Ronaldo, Iniesta etc makes football a very valuable sports. Messi, Rooney, Drogba and lot more has shown the world that football is one of the best sports after scoring more than 30 goals in every competition. This too shows their skills and tactics in the world of sports.

    Regarding the match between Barcelona and Arsenal, it is obvious that the match will be watched by many people as both the teams has the quality to give a great entertainment to the people. Barcelona will be bit confident as they have more numbers of stars as compare with Arsenal. But never get rid of Arsenal, as they can be a Dark force in the Champion League.

    Go Barcelona and Arsenal go, give us a great game that will be cherish by the people all over the world. Best of luck to both the teams

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  • 207. At 08:33am on 31 Mar 2010, HenrikLarssonsDreadlocks wrote:

    I see thats he's a class act but would he be the same in another team? would another quick winger be the same as him in that barca team?
    for some people to say that he's better than Best, Pele and Maradona really need to wake up.

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  • 208. At 08:43am on 31 Mar 2010, dave wrote:

    i still cannot understand why people are going on about hel only be the best player ever if he wins a world cup.... surely medals have nothing to do with the abilities of a individual player..... perfect example is george best... probably the most gifted footballer anyone has ever seen, but as he never won any world cups etc... not regarded in this article at all.... footballs a team game, so any trophies that are won, are won by a team. messi is great going forward.... but if u had 4 of him in ur defence u wudnt win a thing.... so lets put things in perspective!!!

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  • 209. At 08:44am on 31 Mar 2010, fathughie wrote:

    You have to compare Messi to the greats of the game, as he is beyond comparison to his comtempories, and the fools that claim Messi would struggle away to the likes of Bolton are deluded. That argument was thrown at johhny foreigners back in the 80's when Graeme Souness & Bryan Robson was being allowed commit common assault on a weekly basis, and when all pitches were little more than mud baths from november thru to April. Messi is a tough little bugger who has proven he can take the kicks and get back up without any theatrics. And to those who claim C Ronaldo is his superior, Messi not only outscores Ronaldo, he out passes him, out dribbles him, and out assists him. And then cast your mind back to the 19 years old Messi going to the Bernabeau, in a team a man down and scoring a hat-trick in a 3-2 win. Thats akin to Ronaldo going to Anfield and grabbing 3. Has Ronaldo even got one in his 6 seasons at Anfield, or the bridge for that matter?

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  • 210. At 08:46am on 31 Mar 2010, chung777 wrote:

    Right now we cannot say that Messi is world's greatest player. He has many thing be done and improve himself to be world's greatest player in the history of sports. Players like Pele, Maradona, Zindan (France) are greatest players in the world of football. Messi, Rooney and lot more players has to prove to be great football. They can be....... if they improve in every game they play.

    Rooney can surpass, since he got the ability, strength, power, and moreover he is very young. Old players like Henry (fra), Drogba, Lampard, Ballack, Deco, Inzaghi, Totti, Toni, Ronaldinho, Beckham etc has shown how good they are in world of football and shown good example even in International games. Thumps up to all the players.


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  • 211. At 08:53am on 31 Mar 2010, wrigo666 wrote:

    Dont know about the greatest ever..he is just 22, its too early to give him that title, but at present there is nobody around to touch him..he is in a league of his own. He is an outstanding footballer, way ahead of anybody else around. And the greatest thing is that he keeps getting better each year, he is very consistent and he is a team player unlike others (read Christiano Ronaldo). If he can keep fit i truly believe that 8-10 yrs from now he can claim to be the greatest ever.

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  • 212. At 09:05am on 31 Mar 2010, Andrew wrote:

    As a Middlesbrough fan I'd still say Juninho is the bestest player of all time and forever (closely followed by Phil Stamp and Robbie Mustoe)

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  • 213. At 09:10am on 31 Mar 2010, DC_10 wrote:

    I thought Argentina retired the no.10 shirt in honour of Diego?

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  • 214. At 09:15am on 31 Mar 2010, sm1873 wrote:

    I have read quite a few of the comments on here and i have to laugh at some peoples views regarding the fact Messi has never played in England means he is "less of a player"!! Did any of the best players that have ever played the game grace british football?? i.e Pele, Maradona and the likes...... NO! Did Zidane play in England....NO! So from that point of view I really don't agree! For me the best two players out there are Messi and Ronaldo (with Rooney close behind)! I t has always seemed to me that English players have been "over hyped" by the media and that is why England have only ever been a quarter final team since 66! It doesn't matter what league the players play in.... Genius is genius and thats what Ronaldo and Messi are-Simple as that!!!!

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  • 215. At 09:21am on 31 Mar 2010, Lith United wrote:

    Zidane would make an average team a world beater. Given a choice between having him, Pele, Maradona or Messi in a team I would choose Zidane. Ergo he must be the best player ever to grace a pitch.

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  • 216. At 09:22am on 31 Mar 2010, Javiesta wrote:

    To 137. You must have never seen Maradona play except on utube.

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  • 217. At 09:38am on 31 Mar 2010, TaconazoRedondo wrote:

    I totally agree with sm1873, with the slight exception of Ronaldo being a genius. :o)

    I've never seen George Best play, other than extensive clips etc, but I really don't buy into the notion he is the most naturally gifted player ever. I think Maradona trumps him in every aspect, and aside from that I don't even think Best is the greatest European player of all time - to be honest I think there is more than a hint of sentimentality about Best. I'd personally rate Cruijff ahead of him for a start, and Best wouldn't be likely to feature in the top 5. Lets not forget that Man Utd fans themselves voted Cantona their greatest ever player...

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  • 218. At 09:43am on 31 Mar 2010, JJ07 wrote:

    Just some statistics I'd like to offer for up for discussion:

    Messi Played 40 Scored 34 Assists 10
    Rooney Played 40 Scored 34 Assists 4
    Ronaldo Played 25 Scored 23 Assists 6

    A different debate this but who is the best striker in England?
    (PL games only)

    Rooney Played 29 Scored 26 (4 pen and 1 rebound) Assists 4
    Drogba Played 26 Scored 24 (no pens) Assists 10.

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  • 219. At 09:46am on 31 Mar 2010, Hassan wrote:

    Messi is undoubtedly the greatest player of his generation, Maradona and Pele of theirs. Zidane was the greatest player i have seen play as i cant pass comment on Maradone, Pele or Di Stefano, however, when discussing the worlds greatest, they are all great, however were the best for their time. Messi is a great, their is not just one greater than everyone else because they are all capable of producing different qualitites. I would say Messi and Ronaldo are the best players in the world at this moment along with Rooney, for me though, it will be Messi and Ronaldo crowned the greatest footballers of their generation.

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  • 220. At 10:06am on 31 Mar 2010, gunnerslovver2007 wrote:

    Gotta agree with some of the posts on here about the likes of Pele and Di Stefano. They played in an era when players were physically much worse and comparisons seem a little pointless, I would probably extend this to Cruyff after all he was playing while Forest were winning Euarapean cups eating Steaks before games and chain smoking (slight exaggeration I know). In fact we all witnessed the improvement of player fitness from the beginning to the end of the 90's (and that wasn't only in the prem.) so you might just stick Marradonna back in the same catogry as the other and start the "best ever" comparisons from about '98, it's not that Pele and Marrodona weren't best, just that some of those defenders they were up again were on 40 a day, so comparing their achievement with that of the modern day just ain't fare.

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  • 221. At 10:09am on 31 Mar 2010, FinnlayFrush wrote:

    Stick Messi in goal and see if he's the greatest ever player.
    Also, if he was playing in the greatest league in the world, the prem, he would not shine. Obviously, the brightest light there is Torres.

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  • 222. At 10:27am on 31 Mar 2010, Simian wrote:

    Fantastic player no doubt, but I echo the comments here that a) you can't judge until his career is over, b) he plays in the best team in the world right now, and c) different styles of player can be hard to campare.

    Also, I think it is worth mentioning that his profile bennefits by playing on the continent. Players in the Prem league, English or otherwise, don't seem to get the same level of praise internationally as those playing in Spain.

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  • 223. At 10:27am on 31 Mar 2010, Jamie Bedwell wrote:

    I think in years to come Messi will go down as the greatest ever. He is already surely the best dribbler of the ball ever – and has already scored better individual goals than Maradona’s famous effort against England. To say that you have to win the World Cup to be ‘the best’ is utter nonsense…. Many of the teams in the WC are there purely to make up numbers. The current Barca team is surely better than any team which has ever graced the World Cup.

    The best domestic league in the world is undoubtedly either the Premier League or La Liga. And the benchmark for all European clubs is the Champions League. Messi shines in both year in, year out. Pele never played in a top European league, he was one of many stars in a very good Brazil team against some very poor teams in a couple of World Cups.

    Similarly, Argentina reached the final of Italia 90 without playing great football – saying they were a great team is like saying England were great in Euro 96, when people can only remember the one decent performance against Holland. It is easy to look back with rose tinted glasses. Yes, Maradona was great in 1986 but the rest of the team were not bad either.

    Maradona ‘single handedly’ took unfashionable Napoli to Serie A glory. Er, Alan Shearer did the same with Blackburn – is he the greatest ever? Remind me – how did Napoli and Blackburn get on in the European Cup? Maradona wasn’t great every week, nobody is.

    Zidane peaked late, and is the most composed player I have ever seen. Perfect control, immense strength, hardly ever played a bad pass, turned up for the big games. He is certainly the modern benchmark, but a different type of player to Messi.

    From what I have seen of them, both Maradona and Pele were fantastic, wonderful players, but the things I see Messi do with the ball blows my mind. He lobbed Casillas from 6 YARDS (!!) in arguably the world’s biggest derby! I’ve never seen a more outrageous goal. The man has magic feet. He has scored nearly 100 goals from midfield in three seasons – his class is unquestionable.

    I would love to see Messi prove himself in another country i.e. England. But for now why would he leave Barca? Both he and team play fantasy football and we should feel privileged to see him on a football pitch. Unfortunately, as others have mentioned, having a clown for a manager means that even his talent will not be enough for Argentina to win the World Cup – but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a truly great player.

    And the scary thing is that he could get better.

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  • 224. At 10:33am on 31 Mar 2010, apbats wrote:

    I read Guardiola commenting on whether Messi should be compared to the Big 4 but wasn't sure who he meant - I take it from your column its Di Stefano, Pele, Cruyff & Maradona. Is this generally accepted opinion in Spain or is it a Catalan notion? (Cruyff having shaped their whole philosophy of last 35 years). Outside of Barcelona, and as younger people get to set the agenda, I'd say Pele, Maradona & Zidane are becoming acknowledged as a sort Big 3.

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  • 225. At 10:40am on 31 Mar 2010, Crazyteknohed wrote:

    Arguably, one could say Rooney isn't the best player in the Prem as Drogba has consistently outshone hime season upon season.

    However, Man Utd supporters will always think that Rooney is better than Messi even though it's obvious to everyone else that Messi is head-and-shoulders above every other player in the world right now, Ronaldo included. What was it Wenger said a few years back when Fergie claimed his ailing team were still better than Wenger's Invincibles? Something along the lines of everyone thinks that they have the most beautiful wife.

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  • 226. At 10:43am on 31 Mar 2010, c u later wrote:

    Pele, Maradonna and Zidane along with Puskas are the three best players I have ever Pele won the WC at just 17 and Puskas ( along with di Stefano) were kings of Europe in the 60's...So. Yes Messi.Ronaldo and Rooney are all fine players but let's see their longevity careers.............?

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  • 227. At 11:05am on 31 Mar 2010, PepeXabiBarnes wrote:

    I think Messi is the best player in the world by far, better than kaka, ronaldo, villa etc.

    I agree its difficult to pick a best player of all time, due to how different players are, for instance defenders are never included in the best players of all time list, when I think Paolo Maldini must be considered one of, it not the best player of all time.

    Also Zidane and Brazilian Ronaldo should surely be included in any list.

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  • 228. At 11:08am on 31 Mar 2010, PepeXabiBarnes wrote:

    #222. people playing in the premier league dont deserve the same praise because it isnt a goof footballing league. It lacks technical ability and the majority of the premier league using dour long ball tactics.

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  • 229. At 11:09am on 31 Mar 2010, Will Kozer wrote:

    Messi is already one of the best of all time!
    People who don't watch la liga week in week out souldn't really comment on the matter. You can't make judement on a player if you only see highlights of him or the 'odd' European game.
    Any doubters about him should watch la liga for a season and then make their minds up.
    As for him playing in an extreamly talented Barca side, this is undoubtable true. However surely the best players belong in the best teams? At times, the makes those around him look extremely average. If things aren't going well for barca, he will go to the half way line and make a goal for himself from nothing, where the likes of Rooney and Torres rely, to an extent, on the service of others.
    If hes continues to progress over the next 5 or 6 years (when he will be in his so called prime) it will be frigtening to think about what he can achieve. Then the will be the best of all time!!

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  • 230. At 11:09am on 31 Mar 2010, PepeXabiBarnes wrote:

    #221. premiership greatest league in the world? think youre totally totally blinkered mate, its awful

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  • 231. At 11:09am on 31 Mar 2010, John Lias wrote:

    Post # 195

    Malcolm Macdonald ? I actually laughed at loud at this one.

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  • 232. At 11:11am on 31 Mar 2010, PepeXabiBarnes wrote:

    #218. where torres in your list?

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  • 233. At 11:13am on 31 Mar 2010, Crazyteknohed wrote:

    #218. where torres in your list?


    Dunno but if you're going to include him then you should at least include Darren Bent as he has scored more league goals this season than Torres. Defoe has too if you include all competitions.

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  • 234. At 11:25am on 31 Mar 2010, gunpaul82 wrote:

    The difference is, Maradona made average sides into world beaters. Messi is currently playing in arguably the best side in world football. Now if he could turn the Argentinian team nto World cup winners then maybe we could talk about him being the greatest. Zidane afterall won the world cup and Euro championships with a fairly average French team. So that puts Zidane slightly ahead of Messi in my book.

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  • 235. At 11:52am on 31 Mar 2010, Andrew wrote:

    Robbie Savage must be included in any greatest team of all time, the guy is so versatile it's scary.

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  • 236. At 11:58am on 31 Mar 2010, Torresflu wrote:

    Messi- greatest player in the world???? Are you having a laugh? Messi is NOT even the greatest player in Barcelona!!
    You all seem to forget how ridiculously good Ronaldinho was 3 - 5 years ago. So good that Messi now pales in comparison. Technically, Ronaldinho then was better than Messi is now. Agreed messi scores more but he was groomed as a striker and his honed skills are proving useful in front of goal.
    In terms of player greatness, I think Xavi and Iniesta's command of games put them on a higher pedestal than Messi. Yes Messi runs at defenders, is a good dribbler and scores( like Ronaldo,Robben,Ribery and even Aaron Lennon), but all because he is given the freedom to operate due to the hard work of these two supremos.
    And that is why he struggles when he plays for Argentina - there is no one in the mould of Xavi and Iniesta to break up plays and give him the freedom to operate as he does.
    That is also why when these guys play for Spain, you see the best in Torres, Villa and whoever plays with them.
    For me, what he is doing now in terms of goalscoring is the same thing that Etoo did for four years consistently. What he is doing in terms of technically ability is what Ronaldinho did for three consecutive years at Barca. And Xavi and Iniesta made these people perform like they did.

    Messi,great? Absolutely! Greatest? Not by a country mile!

    Scoring ability - not as great as Etoo, Shearer, Di Stefano etc
    Technical ability - not as great as Maradona, Best, Okocha,Ronaldinho, Zidane, Greaves, Giggs ( in his hey)
    Trackback aggresion - not as great as Rooney, Tevez, Guardiola
    Deadliness - not as great as Rumminigge, Gerd Muller, Van Basten, Cantona, Batistuta, Pele, Ronaldo
    It will be a travesty to call him the greatest ever!

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  • 237. At 12:23pm on 31 Mar 2010, sm1873 wrote:

    Again I have to laugh when people say "you can't say Messi is the best player in the world because he is in the best team in the world".... that is a ridiculous arguement! Ronaldinho won world player of the year when he was "in the best team" .... both Ronaldo's won world player of the year because "they were in the best team" .... Kaka won world player of the year "in the best team".... So is the argument that any top player in the world cannot be considered "the best" if they are at the top clubs?? These players are at these clubs for a reason......
    One more point i would argue Torres is the best "striker" in the world but for me, his injurys prevent him from being heralded in the same bracket!!

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  • 238. At 12:26pm on 31 Mar 2010, Andrew wrote:

    Zidane afterall won the world cup and Euro championships with a fairly average French team.


    That side was pretty useful if you ask me, took a while to get going but once they did they could play.

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  • 239. At 12:47pm on 31 Mar 2010, howstrange2 wrote:

    At 38 I'm too young to have watched Pele or Cruyf in action; but the most influential players I've seen are Maradona and Zidane (in that order).

    Both captained and played key roles in their national sides world cup wins.

    Maradona was 26 in the '86 world cup, and Zidane was also 26 in the '98 world cup.

    Messi has the potential to be the best of this era - but he's still only 22.

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  • 240. At 12:58pm on 31 Mar 2010, Vic wrote:

    Why can't we just celebrate these terrific players without having to debate who is the best/greatest etc? There's no such thing outside of your own opinion. I was lucky enough to see Pele, Maradona, Cruyff, Van Basten etc, but can't separate them - each had different qualities, but probably Pele and Maradona had more qualities than the others.

    I like a simple view of things and rate players by whether I would go out of my way to watch them, or spend silly money to get a chance to see them. The answer for most of the players mentioned is a big YES.

    However, I have to question the sanity of anyone who thinks that Lampard is fit to be included in a list of great players. Good professional, but that's it.

    Also, the claims that Messi has a great team to support him - he wouldn't be included in a great team if he couldn't cut it.

    As for the claims that La Liga is uncompetitive and the standard of defenders is poor, do you watch Sky's coverage?

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  • 241. At 1:08pm on 31 Mar 2010, Morris wrote:

    Obviously very difficult to compare players over time, leagues, competitions. One standard criterion is the ability to single-handedly influence the outcome of a game (or even a season or tournament).

    Messi has only started his career and it is too early to make final judgement. But he definitely is already amongst the greatest for his capacity to decide games, along with Maradona, Pelé, Di Stefano, Cruyff, Ronaldo (Brazil), and perhaps Zidane. Ronaldo (Portugal) is not there yet, nor is Rooney.

    Also, lest we forget, the destiny of footballers tend to be subject to either self-inflicted obstacles (drugs, alcohol, psychological problems) or unfortunate injuries. One thing is the talent, another if you are handed the opportunity, and have the wisdom to make the most of it. The "Greatest" will need talent but also a bit of luck with injuries and some common sense.

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  • 242. At 1:18pm on 31 Mar 2010, classico wrote:

    messi is almost as good as georgie best!!

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  • 243. At 1:32pm on 31 Mar 2010, realthing wrote:

    It amazes me how when people start talking about the worlds greatest player sooner or later George Best is put into the equation???? The only thing that he was the worlds greatest at was drinking. You are talking about a guy who no doubt had talent but it was all over by the age of 27 due to drink.
    A player far more deserving and by what I read was possibly England's greatest ever player was Bobby Charlton. Yet people still put George Best above England's greatest ever centre forward?

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  • 244. At 1:37pm on 31 Mar 2010, be the hokey wrote:

    All Argentines I speak to don't even put him as their nation's best player - they say he's never any good for his national team.

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  • 245. At 1:42pm on 31 Mar 2010, margaretthatcher07 wrote:

    Can we not wait to judge Messi, Ronaldo and Rooney, after all they are all in their early 20s and in the early years of their careers. It's fine to judge Zidane nowadays because he's retired and Brazilian Ronaldo is clearly had his heyday. The argument over who is the greatest player is difficult because you have to set the criteria. Yes Messi is a great dribbler and goal scorer who can also feed other players but his tackling, marking and positional sense are slightly lacking because he relies on others to do those jobs so that he can get the ball in his favoured area and play. Most players considered the greatest had long and successful careers (except Best who was shocking by the end) so it's much easier to judge their value. What would happen if Messi left Barca or a new manager decided to play a different way?

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  • 246. At 1:46pm on 31 Mar 2010, Andrew wrote:

    The only thing that he was the worlds greatest at was drinking. You are talking about a guy who no doubt had talent but it was all over by the age of 27 due to drink.


    Boy but what a 27 years they must have been.

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  • 247. At 1:47pm on 31 Mar 2010, Chubsylee wrote:

    Messi the greatest? Maybe but at what? He's not the greatest goalscorer. He's not the greatest alround midfielder. He's not the best defender or goalkeeper. He is the best at creating something out of nothing. Does that make him the best of all time?

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  • 248. At 1:48pm on 31 Mar 2010, Neil M wrote:

    Messi is certainly a very special player, and may well mature into the "greatest", but currently he's not even the best player at Barca. That would be either Xavi or Iniesta, and my vote would go for Xavi. The control and pressure that both Barca and Spain exert on teams comes from him.

    Any discussion on who is the "greatest" is spurious, as its all down to personal opinion. I happen to think that Platini is one of the best, and the fact that he won three European Player of the Year Awards in a row, when playing in the same league as Maradona at his peak, speaks volumes.

    Also, Cristiano Ronaldo shouldn't be anywhere near being mentioned in this debate. If he goes away and plays well against decent teams, in big games then, and only then, could he even be considered.

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  • 249. At 1:56pm on 31 Mar 2010, simon samm wrote:

    30 Mar 2010, The Importance of Being Didier wrote:
    Here is my own PERSONAL favourite all time XI. They may not be the best (in fact, a lot of them aren't) but it's my team, and I play rubbish if I want to!


    You did not put Lampard in

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  • 250. At 2:52pm on 31 Mar 2010, Torresflu wrote:

    A player far more deserving and by what I read was possibly England's greatest ever player was Bobby Charlton. Yet people still put George Best above England's greatest ever centre forward?

    Err... George Best was Nothern Iris, not English

    Besides, if you ever watched an George Best match ( there are loads of documentaries about him anyways) you will see that Georgie was one of the best ever, period! If he was an Argentine, he would be in the Maradona mould easily.

    Give honour to whom honour is due.

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  • 251. At 3:05pm on 31 Mar 2010, Joe Urquhart wrote:

    Messi is by far the World's best atm! Anybody who compares Cristiano Ronaldo to him must be blind. Kaka is better than Ronaldo and I still don't even think he's any where near as good as Messi either. As many people have said here, Zidane made the game look so easy, as did Maradone and Cruyff. Messi is the same. Di Stefano never got to play in a World Cup so I tend to disagree when people say you have to have won the World Cup to be the greatest! The Champions League is the best competition in the world in terms of the level of football. Messi may or may not be able to carry Argentina in June but either way it's still too early to compare him to Pele etc... But the way he's going, it surely won't be long until he's got a bigger case!

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  • 252. At 3:29pm on 31 Mar 2010, sportszombie wrote:

    George Best simply did not achieve enough to qualify amongst all time greatest players. He managed to win the European player of the yr at 22 in 1968 alongside a European Cup but if you look at his career beyond that he was clearly overshadowed by his contemporaries eg Cryuff, Pele, Beckenbaur not just at the international but at the club level as well. At a normal player's peak age of 27 he was kicked out from his struggling club, which tells you how highly he was rated back then. Don't think he ever cared about being the greatest of all time or any such thing, he just wanted to have a good time and he did.

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  • 253. At 3:40pm on 31 Mar 2010, xpat73 wrote:

    Messi is that rare player who is actually faster with the ball than without. He also does not give the ball away cheaply.

    Another quality he has is that he is un-selfish. Yes he dribbles when it is right but he also brings in his teammates, becuase he knows that he will attract alot of attention from defenders.

    I think he is better than Ronaldo is that he is far more direct.

    However, if I was choosing one player to "condcut the orchestra" of my team it would be Zidane.

    If and when Messi sins a World Cup then he can be compared to Maradona.
    It has to be remembered that the 1986 Argentina side was not a great side full of stars....apart from Maradona...maybe Burrachaga (who scored the winning goal) was a team of also rans. Maradona single handedly won them the cup....

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  • 254. At 3:47pm on 31 Mar 2010, yaw kusi wrote:

    It hurts to hear Rooney’s name been mentioned among the greatest. It really hursts. The other day I even saw a post which said Chelsea are about to lose one of the best players in europe today, in the person of Joe Cole. I can’t understand why this English problem can’t go away.

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  • 255. At 4:00pm on 31 Mar 2010, Andrew wrote:

    Anyway lets just all see how Messi performs tonight, I can't bloody wait!

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  • 256. At 4:21pm on 31 Mar 2010, xpat73 wrote:

    What about Dennis Wise?

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  • 257. At 4:28pm on 31 Mar 2010, Roger wrote:

    # 76, Slakhani I've check all your post regarding "is Messi the greatest ever" and I've to say you're a travesty to this blog!!! But the one that I've notice the most is #76, were you wrote
    (First of all how can you even compare Barcelona to Manchester United or even Real Madrid. Manchester United as a club own the greatest history and if we are to look at recent form- in the last 20 years Manchester United have won more cups than any other team would imagine to do in such a short period of time. United make Barcelona look average.)

    Well here are the teams you've mention related history 1) Manchester United, premier league tittles 18, FA cup 11, Champions League 3. 2)Barcelona La Liga tittles 19, Spanish cup 25, champions league 3. 3) real Madrid La liga tittles 31, Spanish cup 17, champions league 9.... So please explain to me how ManU's history is greater than Barcelona or Real Madrid??????? I suggest you check your facts before posting on blogs, cause you make yourself look quite ignoramus.

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  • 258. At 4:48pm on 31 Mar 2010, cakedeath wrote:

    Instead of Greatest Ever, does Messi deserve to be in the All Time Greatest XI already.....


    Beckenbauer (SW)

    Moore Baresi Maldini

    Garrincha Di Stefano Maradona Cruyff

    Pele Ronaldo

    subs: Platini

    And Messi fits in where do you think?

    It may not be everyone's greatest XI but anyway if Messi is the greatest / future greatest who's place will he be taking do you think? Pele said Di Stefano is the greatest of all time, Garrincha was suppose to be as good as Pele but on the wing, Pele and Maradona are regarded as either first or second choice period. Ronaldo is safe I imagine as Messi isn't a No.9 so I guess Cruyff is for the chop?......

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  • 259. At 4:58pm on 31 Mar 2010, Konnolsky wrote:

    Hello English friends to you from butcher’s shop in Smolensk. Here assistant Yuri, who is put away still after day make excellent beetroot and potatoes moonshine – it taste like paraffin mixed with dead cat, but after 16 glasses you totally armless – is reflect with me on question of greatest ever player. There is many contending – Pele, Johan Crufts, Madonna, Mickey Rooney, even Matt Holland. But we are clear that finest player we are ever see is Vassili Smirtin.

    Vassili played for local Sunday team of AFC Sputnik. Though only have left eye – right eye was purged during Communist era – he complete brilliant midfield generalissimo in style of Carlos Panorama (except Vassili bald).

    Once, in game against hated rivals Irkutsk Kosmos, I play goalie – imagine cross between Lev Yashin and Gary Sprake – roll ball out to Vassili. He is dribble past entire Irkutsk team, stop at 18 yards box, light cigarette, and puffing triumphantly, chip ball over stranded Irkutsk goalkeeper (he small fellow, like Shay Guevara, Irish goalie). It is add Pele-like beauty of failures that Vassili’s shot is clear crossbar by 16 metres also. We are lose 1-0. And it is George Best-like tragedy that Vassili is hit bottle so bad he never play again. But I am treasure moment as much as when Kommissar Dbrinin is open Smolensky rivet factory in 1974.

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  • 260. At 5:11pm on 31 Mar 2010, rhaps101 wrote:

    I have to agree with those who say that a) it is a bit early in his career to talk of Messi being the best ever and b) it is very hard to compare him with players from the past.

    However, to all of the posters who have been saying "he has to win the world cup to be the best ever blah blah blah" it is worth remembering that on the whole club teams (Barcelona et al) are better than international teams due to the amount of training and time spent together. With the exception of Spain, there is no international team that are going to be playing at the 2010 World Cup who would be able to cope with the current Barcelona, Man Utd teams.

    Also there is a player who never played in an international tournament let alone won a world cup but could still be considered as truly one of the best ever; His name; GEORGE BEST. Nuff said.

    Messi forever and all that....

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  • 261. At 6:24pm on 31 Mar 2010, CorridorOfUncertainty wrote:

    Fernando Torres, is without a doubt, a better and more complete player than Messi.

    He is a better finisher, tackler, passer, and header of the ball and he also breaks the 5'5'' barrier unlike Lionel Messi

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  • 262. At 6:38pm on 31 Mar 2010, d4v1d wrote:

    hey... am joining the debate late on this one... was having this conversation about messi with a friend the other day... and greatest and best current players... have noticed a common theme saying that zidane was the best player of recent times... interestingly this friend of mine commented that when zidane himself was asked who he thought the best player in the world is, cr9 or messi he replied "neither... stephen gerrard is the best player in the world..." ...ok so current season and form suggests no to that one but when asked to explain zidane said apparently that a team of 11 stevie g's would beat most teams in the world cos the scouse genius can play anywhere... and that's what mekes him the best in zidanes' humble opinion.... just a thought! (my mate is a liverpool supporter by the way... i however am not.)

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  • 263. At 6:51pm on 31 Mar 2010, smellysk wrote:

    Messi is the best player in world football today, by a long shot! However, he plays in a fantastic Barca team and will most likely spend his career there! For me, Zidane done it everywhere, WC, Champions League, France, Spain, Italy, EURO's etc. IMO he was the greatest of all time! (his performance against Brazil in the 2006 WC was the greatest display of football I've ever seen!)

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  • 264. At 6:54pm on 31 Mar 2010, Chris wrote:

    Messi is a fabulous player, worth watching barca games for that sole reason.....saying that he only a kid, anything can happen in footy so calling him the 'greatest ever' is a bit daft when hes got ten more years to go....he most certainly can be the greatest ever but not til hes finished can we judge that.....comparing him against Rooney and Ronny is hard....all three are amazing in thier own right but its a bit apples v oranges...

    Would love to see messi in the prem in 3-4 years, prove u can cut it in the real football league...Bolton and Stoke away from home....half as much time on the ball...if u cut it there then uve proved yourself i reckon.....

    either way hes still class, lets see how he does with Argentina,,,,hope he has a terrible world cup!!

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  • 265. At 9:55pm on 31 Mar 2010, U14357625 wrote:

    Messi is clearly the best in the world at the moment, ahead of the likes of Ronaldo and Rooney - possibly only Xavi comes close, but is obviously a very different type of player.

    As for all time, Messi has a bit of work to do before he can be compared to his national team boss. Maradona led a fairly average Argentina team to a World Cup and performed minor miracles at Napoli.

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  • 266. At 10:08pm on 31 Mar 2010, JJ wrote:

    Messi was pretty anonymous tonight which was a bit of a pity. Lucky for the Arsenal I suppose, if he had been on form it might have been a bit one sided.
    If you like to see a real two footed player go on youtube and search for "the greatest football playing dog" you won't believe how good it is and the bit of skill at approximately 1 minute 48 seconds will make you laugh so enjoy !

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  • 267. At 05:32am on 01 Apr 2010, Carl G wrote:

    Has Messi done for Barca in 2 years what Ronaldinho did. Most opinions out there suffer from memory lapses. When messi can run with the ball at his feet, past defenders almost the whole length of the field and score like Dinho I will start rating him with the greats. Modern day spectators, as soon as some guy comes along with above average talent, lo, they are the greatest ever, lol. This happens time and again. Fact..No player has ever won the world cup at 17 scoring spectular goals except PELE..No player ever scored 1000+ goals in top level football,except PELE.No player has played at top level as long as PELE..No player has ever won the world cup at 29 and was voted best player,except PELE. Nothing that Maradona, DiStefano,Puscas,Zidane, Best,etc etc has ever done with the ball that Pele did not do better. As for the experts who say Pele did not play in Europe, did any of the Europeans play in Brazil. Brazilian football is as credible if not..than euro football!The Brazilians play the beautiful game, the statement is Brazilian.

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  • 268. At 7:47pm on 01 Apr 2010, FernandodeInglaterra wrote:

    I admire Messi's football to no end, and I think he could be on his way to eventually be considered one of the greatest and a pair to the likes of Di Steffano, Cruyff or Pelé - but I don't think he will ever be as great as Maradona was.

    I might be wrong, because I have followed Messi avidly since his debut, and not only it was obvious that he was phenomenon from the get go, he keeps improving his game, and he is playing for the team that makes the better football I can remember - but ultimately I think Maradona could do everything Messi does, and I doubt Messi would ever do some of what Maradona was capable of, and although his technique and control are superb, he lacks the natural feel with the ball Maradona had.

    A couple more seasons just playing in his current form, and Messi will forever belong by his own right to the second trier of greatest who for different reasons never quite made it to the first trier - the likes of Garrincha, Ronaldo Nazário, Rivaldo, Platini, Zidane, Puskas, Kubala, Francescoli, Van Basten, Bobby Charlton, Beckenbauer, or George Best.

    The fact that he is still so young means he could get even further from there, and he seems well on his way to win very many trophies with this amazing Barça - I just don't think he'll be quite as good as Maradona.

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  • 269. At 10:14pm on 03 Apr 2010, DrCajetanCoelho wrote:

    Messi, Rooney and Ronaldo are the men in form. They are vastly different but highly effective for their respective clubs. We need to wait and see how far they can carry their national teams in the World Cup. The more games they get to play the greater would be their visibility. Let's wish them fitness and form. Till then Pele, Diego Maradona and Zinedine Zidane would continue to be far ahead of the current trio of greats.

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  • 270. At 10:41am on 10 Apr 2010, revieboy wrote:

    It was inevitable that since Messi scored four against Arsenal the British press jumped on the bandwagon to idolise him whereas in the past they have questioned his ability because he plays in (the superior) La Liga. Messi has matured over the past couple of seasons and is now displaying his abilities on a regular basis but it is much too early to class Messi as the best player ever. A players contribution to football history should be reflected upon at the end of his career.
    In the past two decades Zinedine Zidane remains the true World Class player, his contribution cannot be questioned with two goals in the final of World Cup 1998, winning Euro 2000, scoring possibly the greatest Champions League Final goal. The fact is Zidane did it when it really mattered and despite the disappointment of his final bow he will be remembered for what went before. Zidane was tipped as a star of Euro 96 but his contribution was anonymous, following that his contribution to his clubs Juventus and then Real Madrid showed a consistent maturing. If you watch the film Zidane: a 21st century portrait it is easy to understand his sheer ability and faultless contribution to the team.
    In the 90's and early 00's there was one player who really should have eclipsed Zidane and yet remains a legend who due to circumstance will probably never be classed in the top players ever. Ronaldo Luiz Nazario de Lima was know as 'Il fenomeno' during his brief spell at Barca and he was certainly a revelation. Due to the misfortune of World Cup 1998 the Brazilians career stuttered mainly due to intense speculation every time he played. Despite this he continued to score at a fantastic rate, led Brazil to World Cup 2002 and is the top scorer in World Cup history. I believe he displayed a peak in terms of his ability as a team player during his time at Inter, at his best Ronaldo was by no means a lazy player and worked hard all over the pitch. Unfortunately this unbelievable spell of form was cut short when he broke his leg.
    Comparisons with Messi and Maradona have continued for years now, indeed he shows all those attributes but a different temperament. He is not yet at Diegos level in terms of his contribution on the World Cup stage. Maradona was a true leader and a tough competitor, a player from a different era who could be magical but also deal with the attention of the spoiling tactics of the opposition. The modern game allows Messi more opportunity than Maradona, players are less likely to hack him down nowadays. It is possible barring injury that he can become the best but it is not all in his hands.

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  • 271. At 00:08am on 11 Apr 2010, goalazo wrote:

    Talent wise, Messi is probably around 33% of what Maradona was at his peak, and Messi is the closest that I have see to Maradona. Messi is probably a better scorer than Maradona was. But one thing Messi lacks is leadership. All other great players in the world were great leaders on and off the field, but Messi is still a shy and silent assassin.

    It all depends on if Messi will shine in South Africa. If Messi plays at this level for another 3 years, I think many will take his name in the same breath as Maradona and Pele.

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  • 272. At 01:49am on 13 Apr 2010, JazzaP wrote:

    Best player in all of history, if his team mates can live up to there potential Argentina for the world cup.

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  • 273. At 01:17am on 28 Apr 2010, JH wrote:

    No Messi is not the best ever player - In fact he is not the best player in the Barca side.

    Two points- aside from comparing him to Zidane, Pele etc - which he is not that good though may get there in time; the real issue for me is the Xavi Fernandez is the most influential player I have ever seen on a football pitch and given that Barca are playing football that is 'off the planet' in the last few years, its about time Xavi was considered for what he is - a truly exceptional talent that pulls the strings for the best side in the world.

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  • 274. At 08:25am on 22 Mar 2011, matchwinner wrote:

    I think everyone HAS to be a fan of Lionel Messi. Like Tim sherwood syas, him and Ronaldo are out of this world!

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