Valdano on Messi and Maradona comparison

BARCELONA, SPAIN - MARCH 13: Lionel Messi of Barcelona celebrates scores his team's first goal from a penalty during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Second Leg match between FC Barcelona and Olympique Lyonnais at Nou Camp on March 13, 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Jorge Valdano recently highlighted the importance of Lionel Messi’s role at Barcelona after his heroics against Real Betis but refused to get drawn into the Maradona debate.

Valdano rates the Argentine skipper highly and feels he has attained the heights of footballing greats like Alfredo Di Stefano, Pele and Johan Cruyff.

And following Messi’s recent hat-trick in his side’s 4-1 victory away at Real Betis on Sunday night, the former World Cup winner further shared his thoughts on the superstar.

“I believe that every successful team must have a genius,” he revealed in a quote cited via Marca.

“There are some teams who are more renowned for having exceptional coaches, whereas others are known for having superstars.

Valdano also hinted the Catalans wouldn’t have had the same impact and success on the pitch without Messi.

“Barcelona still would have been hugely successful without Lionel Messi, but they certainly would not be at the same level they currently are with him in the side.

“Would Barcelona have won as consummately as they did against [Real] Betis without Messi? The answer is no.

“Would they have performed as excellently as they did in the Champions League last week without Messi? No.

“The impact that Messi has on every game should not be understated; he is the star man and when he plays well, so does the rest of the team.”

After speaking highly about his compatriot, Valdano refused to get drawn into the Messi and Maradona debate, stating that he was unwilling to say whether one was better than the other.

“I will never say that Messi is better than Maradona and vice versa,” he added.

“It is very difficult to compare the two players when they both played in very different eras.

“They are both equally as talented as each other. Diego Maradona was more artistic, more passionate. But Messi is the complete package.

“Maradona would still be unstoppable in this day and age, just as Pele, Alfredo [Di Stefano] and Johan [Cruyff] would.”

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