There are some football fans who genuinely believe that Lionel Messi can’t be considered the greatest footballer of all time unless he lifts the World Cup with Argentina.
This is despite the fact the 28-year-old has won a record-breaking five Ballon d’Or awards, a whole host of major trophies with Barcelona and has scored over 500 goals for club and country.
Messi went agonisingly close to winning the World Cup in 2014 but was left heartbroken by Germany, who won the match after extra-time. He also finished as a runner-up at last summer’s Copa America in Chile but does have an Olympic gold medal after helping Argentina beat Nigeria at the 2008 final in Beijing.
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Messi needs eight more goals to surpass Gabriel Batistuta as Argentina’s all-time top scorer but all of these achievements will count for nothing, some fans would have you believe, unless he wins world football’s most prestigious trophy.
Pelé won it three times and Diego Maradona famously inspired the Albicelestes to glory at the 1986 World Cup finals in Mexico - so what’s Messi’s excuse?
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Xavi: Messi is the best in history
One player who believes this school of thought is utter rubbish is Xavi, the Barcelona legend who played alongside Messi at Camp Nou up until last summer when he joined Al Sadd.
Xavi is convinced Messi is the best player in history and feels that Alfredo di Stéfano and Johan Cruyff are proof you don’t need to win a World Cup to be considered as a genuine ‘best player of all time’ contender.
"Messi is playing like Xavi? What a load of balls, Messi plays like Messi, he does whatever he wants, he does everything well and is the best in history,” Xavi was quoted as saying by Spanish newspaper AS. “He doesn't have to win a World Cup to prove it, Di Stéfano and Cruyff didn't win it either.”
Xavi: Messi is spectacular
Xavi has also been impressed that Messi is looking after himself physically - in terms of laying off the pizzas and Coca-Cola, one would assume - as he enters what could potentially be the peak years of his career.
"The way the team plays makes me drool, they're at a stratospheric level,” the World Cup winner added. ”I felt at my best between 28 and 32, and he's looking after himself better than ever, he's spectacular.”
Messi has been compared to Xavi in recent weeks because of his tendency to drop deep and produce defence-splitting passes during matches.
As well as the best player in the world, it could be argued that Messi is the best passer in the world.
The Barcelona superstar has 10 La Liga assists to his name this term - as well as 22 goals - which isn’t bad going when you consider he missed two months of the season with a knee injury.
Is Lionel Messi the best footballer of all time? Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment below.
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