Comparisons between Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi are unfair until the current Argentinian maestro retires, says our Sony Team Ambassador Alessandro Nesta.
Asked to judge the pair in a live web chat with fans, Nesta replied: “It’s too early to say. Once Messi has retired then we can answer that question. Messi still has one more chance to win the World Cup.”
Of course, Maradona lifted the coveted trophy in the victory over West Germany in 1986 – a tournament where he also won the Golden Ball.
That’s going one better than Messi, who controversially won the Golden Ball for player of the tournament this time round despite critics saying he flopped in the final, which Nesta agrees with.
When asked if Messi should still be considered one of the best players of all time despite his World Cup final performance, Nesta replied: “Of course he should. Messi didn’t play well in the final but this shouldn’t erase all the amazing things he has done so far in his career.”
So what do the stats say? At the age of 27, Messi has already played more games and scored more goals for Argentina than Maradona. Messi has 93 caps and has scored 42 goals while Maradona collected 91 caps with 34 goals.
Maradona’s career was interrupted when he was suspended from football for 15 months in 1991 after failing a drug test, for cocaine, in Italy, and he was sent home from the 1994 World Cup in America after testing positive for ephedrine.
In contrast to the controversy, he was chosen as the joint FIFA Player of the 20th Century along with Pelé and his second goal against England at the 1986 World Cup finals in Mexico was voted the Goal of the Century by FIFA.com voters in 2002.
Maradona made 491 appearances in his club career, scoring 259 goals. Messi is likely to eclipse his fellow number 10’s goal-scoring exploits this season having already scored 243 times in 277 appearances for Barcelona.
With the next World Cup in Russia four years away, Messi has plenty of time to further his club and international careers but what happens in 2018 could be the defining factor in how the pair go down in history. As Nesta says, only time will tell.