Jose Mourinho believes that regardless of whether Lionel Messi leads Argentina to World Cup glory on Sunday he will not be the greatest ever footballer – at least not in his eyes.
Much has been made of the need for Messi to win the World Cup in order to stand alongside Pele and Maradona at the pinnacle of sport.
And while the Chelsea manager insists Messi’s place in history is assured, he believes the four-time Ballon D’or winner is not the best he has ever seen.
"I think Messi is a fantastic player. He doesn’t need to win the World Cup to be considered a fantastic player," Mourinho said, speaking as Yahoo’s Global Football Ambassador.
"He doesn’t need to win the World Cup to be considered an historical player in this decade. But for me he is not the greatest player of all time."
After two uninspiring World Cup campaigns, Messi has enjoyed relative success on a personal level in Brazil, scoring four times.
He now has the opportunity to lift the famous trophy, with Brazil’s executioners Germany the only side left standing in their way.
World Cup final
Turing his attentions to Sunday’s final, Mourinho believes that despite much of the pre-match build-up pitting Messi against Thomas Muller, midfield is where the match will be won.
“In midfield, where Germany is very very strong because they have Schweinsteiger, Khedira and Kroos plus an important fact which is the fact that Ozil drops back, Muller drops back and they put many many times four or five players in a central area.
“It’s where they are really strong and they start controlling the possession of the game and initiative of the game.
“On the other side, its where Argentina is also very solid, with the outstanding Mascherano with the tactical discipline of Luca Biglia with fantastic effort, running and pressing and covering spaces from people like Enzo Perez and Lavezzi closing the sides.
“So I think midfield will be a great battle and everybody will be waiting for the biggest talents to score a goal to win the match and both teams they have these talents.”
Chelsea boss impressed by minnows
The 51-year-old has been impressed by some of the World Cup’s lesser sides, and insists this World Cup has been an entertaining one, despite the poor performances of the more established country, including his own Portugal.
"Lots of big teams disappointed, England, Portugal, Spain, Italy, so many of them were below expectations and didn’t even qualify from the group stage.
"But it has been a fantastic World Cup. Costa Rica, Columbia, Chile, US, Algeria, these are the teams responsible for the beautiful World Cup."
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