Xavi has his former Barcelona teammate's back, calming some of the pressure on the Argentina superstar.

By 90Min
June 02, 2018

Former Barcelona midfielder Xavi has claimed in a recent interview that Lionel Messi "doesn't need to win a World Cup" to be called the best in history, ranking him above his compatriot Diego Maradona in the process.

The pair enjoyed countless years of success during their time together at Camp Nou, winning seven La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues, but at the World Cup for Argentina it hasn't happened for the five time Ballon d'Or winner. 

Messi is set to appear at his fourth World Cup this summer, with the closest the Argentine has come to football's biggest prize being the loss in the 2014 final to Germany, and some see Maradona - a winner in 1986 for La Albiceleste - as the best in history because of his success on the grandest stage, although Xavi is clear as who he views as the best.

Speaking to La Nacion, the 2010 World Cup winner said: "Messi does not need it (the World Cup), he's the best in history. I have not seen anyone better than him. I understand the consideration for Maradona. He has been and is an idol for all. 

"What he (Maradona) did with Argentina still surpasses what the current generation of players have achieved. That's why there are people who say that Messi did not do what Maradona did. 

"I understand, but at a footballing level Messi does what Maradona did 30 years ago. But in 2018 it costs twice as much because from a tactical, physical, technical and mental viewpoint, all the players are better."

Xavi also took the time to talk about the versatility of Messi, suggesting he is good enough to play as a midfielder due to his footballing intelligence, which could potentially happen following the departure of Andres Iniesta.

Xavi continued, stating: "Messi can play the roles of Xavi, (Ivan) Rakitic, (Sergio) Busquets, (Andres) Iniesta or (Luis) Suarez. He does everything right.

"He is a player who can't be compared with anybody. He is like Maradona in his time, like Pele in his time. At present he is already the best football player in history."

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