Lionel Messi: 5 times world-class centre-backs have praised the Barcelona star

Barcelona v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Semi Final: First Leg

Every footballer who plays against Lionel Messi during their career has a story to tell.

Often, it’s not a pleasant one. But they’re going to enjoy telling anyone who will listen that they got to challenge the player many believe to be the greatest of all-time.

Borussia Dortmund defender Mats Hummels had the ‘pleasure’ on Wednesday evening and he was given a front row seat to the Messi show.

The Argentinian scored one and set up another as Barcelona defeated Dortmund 3-1 in the Champions League.

And Hummels, who gave the ball away for Messi’s goal, had high praise for the Barcelona star after the game.

“In top form, Messi is the best footballer I have ever seen - period," the Germany centre-back declared.

Hummels has come up against Messi many times before, including in the 2014 World Cup final.

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He’s not the first centre-back to rave about the five-time Ballon d’Or winner, though.

GIVEMESPORT have picked out four other instances where world-class centre-backs have spoken highly about Messi.

Sergio Ramos

Messi isn’t the most popular figure at the Bernabeu but Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos has seen enough of him over the years to appreciate his talents.

Ramos leapt to Messi’s defence after he received criticism back in Argentina during the 2018 World Cup.

“In Argentine football, they know very well that Maradona is light years behind the best player in Argentina history - who for me is Leo Messi,” Ramos said, per ESPN.

FC Barcelona v Real Madrid - Copa del Rey Semi Final

Virgil van Dijk

Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk is in contention to win the 2019 Ballon d’Or award but he believes that it should go to Messi.

“I think Messi is the best player in the world and I think he deserves it as long as he plays," Van Dijk said in June.

"I don't think there is any case and I think that Messi is still the best player in the world and it doesn't matter if he isn't in the Champions League final."

Barcelona v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Semi Final: First Leg

Giorgio Chiellini

Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini spoke about the differences between marking Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo during an interview with Eurosport Italy in 2016.

The Italian always had a plan when he played against Ronaldo, who is now his teammate. But with Messi, it was just too difficult to come up with one.

“With Cristiano Ronaldo you mark him trying to not let him inside on the right,” Chiellini said. “With Messi… you cross yourself and pray!"

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Jerome Boateng

The clip of Messi sending Bayern Munich’s Jerome Boateng to the floor during Barcelona’s Champions League semi-final win over Pep Guardiola’s side will be shown long after both players retire.

In an interview with ESPN FC two months after the match, Boateng said he can look back and laugh at the moment Messi humiliated him in front of millions.

The German didn’t suffer from sleepless nights after being undone by the player he believed at the time to be the best on the planet.

"For me, he's the best player in the world,” Boateng said. “That's football.

“Sometimes you look bad or something happens. I'm a defender, that doesn't kill me or anything."

ANALYSIS

GIVEMESPORT’s Scott Wilson says:

I feel for any defender who has to come up against Messi.

How do you stop a player who can get past you in the blink of an eye?

It speaks to Messi’s immense ability that his rival for the 2019 Ballon d’Or is ready to hand it to him and that Ramos, who plays for Barcelona’s fiercest rivals, came to his defence following criticism back in Argentina.

Greatness recognises greatness and in Messi’s case, it’s not hard to spot it.

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