Messi Vs Maradona

Who is the world’s greatest footballer? Many currently place that mantel at the feet of the talismanic Barcelona front man Lionel Messi. But is Messi the greatest EVER player? This is food for thought and in order to come to a conclusion it is important to compare Messi with another Argentinean, a man so often lauded as the greatest footballer of all time – Diego Maradona.

To adequately compare Messi and Maradona it is important to examine their playing styles, abilities, achievements at domestic and international level and the eras in which they both played.

Lionel Messi

Messi began life as an attacking midfielder, but in recent years has been deployed as a forward (rather than a traditional striker). His skill and creativity on the ball means he can dictate the game by dropping deeper, but can push forward and score goals with terrifying regularity.

In the 2012/13 season Messi broke Gerd Müller’s goal-scoring record of 85 goals in a calendar year, a record that stood for 40 years. This has led to many pundits, fans, players and media outlets to proclaim him the greatest player of all time.

Messi’s ability is undeniable, especially as, at the age of 11 he was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency, which lends to his small stature and meant he had to develop pace, touch and skill at a young age in order to compete at the highest level.

Despite having won everything at domestic level, question marks still remain over Messi’s ability to transfer his form to the international stage. In an Argentina shirt he doesn’t appear to possess the same magic as in a Barcelona jersey.

There are also reservations as to whether Messi could deliver playing in other European league’s; the Premier League for example. The game in England is much more physical and fast paced than in Spain and some ponder whether Messi would be as good playing outside of Spain.

Diego Maradona

A generation (or so) before Lionel Messi there was another Argentinean who wore the famous scarlet and blue of Barcelona. His name was Diego Armando Maradona.

The mercurial Argentinean was technically gifted, a playmaker and great strategist. His skill on the ball was unrivalled and despite being an attacking midfielder, Maradona regularly scored at a rate that would have rivalled most strikers.

Many fans, pundits, experts, players and critics regard Maradona as perhaps the greatest footballer who ever lived.

He began his career at Argentinos Juniors before transferring to Brazilian heavyweights Boca Juniors, where he spent a season. It was then that he moved to FC Barcelona for a (then) world record fee of £5 million. A record he himself would later break with a £6.9 million move to Napoli. Maradona spent two injury plagued seasons at the Nou Camp, but still managed 38 goals in 58 games and helped the team to win both domestic cups.

Following several disputes Maradona transferred to Italian club Napoli in 1984. It was here he enjoyed the most successful spell of his career, winning 2 Seria A titles, the Coppa Italia, the Italian Super Cup and the UEFA Cup. He also finished as top scorer in Serie A at the end of the 1987/88 season.

Maradona also produced on the international stage, where he was instrumental in Argentina’s World Cup win in 1986 and runner up finish in 1990. He also won the World Cup Golden Boot in 1986.

Conclusion

Whilst Messi may have won more domestic trophies and broken more goal-scoring records, there is no doubting that Maradona played in a much tougher and more physically demanding era of the sport. He also played in weaker sides than Messi and perhaps most importantly, produced at international level. Its unlikely Messi will move to a smaller unfashionable team to elevate them to greatness like Napoli. After all his current Barcelona side is built to accommodate him. The support of numerous talented Spanish internationals such Xavi and Iniesta combine with Messi to create a potent attacking force. One could argue this set-up make the diminutive Argentinean look better than he actually is.

It is worth noting that Maradona is an outspoken and patriotic man, whilst the young pretender is more introverted and timid in nature. This is partly the reason why he doesn’t enjoy the same level of adulation from his home country.

Comparing them is difficult as the eras they played in were so different, but taking everything into account Maradona edges Messi as the greatest ever footballer. With the world Cup 2014 looming in Brazil Messi does have the opportunity to turn this round.

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