Liverpool head coach Jurgen Klopp has named Paris Saint-Germain superstar Lionel Messi as the greatest footballer of his lifetime.
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The debate between Cristiano Ronaldo and his old foe has taken a decisive twist this month, with Messi lifting the World Cup. The 35-year-old produced one of the best individual tournament displays to guide Argentina to the title in Qatar.
Lack of international honours had always been used against the PSG star, having failed to lift any trophies during the earlier stages of his career. But, after winning both the Copa America and World Cup in just over 12 months, that particular angle of attack has been disproven.
And Liverpool manager Klopp has revealed his delight for Messi and Argentina, talking about his credentials as the greatest of all time.
“Argentina deserved it and when you saw the team and the country celebrating, then it probably hit the right country in difficult times. I am really happy for them, they waited for a long time,” Klopp said.
“The greatest footballer in my lifetime, Lionel Messi, the way he plays football in this age should give us all a hint at how long footballers can perform at the top level. We shouldn’t close the books too early. It was a joy to watch him.”
It’s not the first time Klopp has picked Messi over Ronaldo, while explaining the difference which sets the two icons apart, he said: “For me Messi, but I couldn’t admire Ronaldo more than I do already,” he told YouTube channel freekickerz in 2020.
“The explanation is the following: we’ve played against both already and both are almost impossible to defend. But Messi has much lower physical requirements from birth on.
“If you could paint yourself a perfect player, it would have Ronaldo’s height, he could jump and run as high or quick as Ronaldo can do. And what is then even added to that is his total attitude, it is absolutely perfect and professional, it couldn’t be any better.”
Klopp added: “And on the other side, there is the small Messi who makes everything look so simple. And therefore I like him maybe a little bit more as a player on the pitch. But Cristiano is also an absolutely incredible player.
“It’s really difficult, therefore, but what both have in common is that both have left their footprints for such a long time. There are also some younger players who have a similar potential, but to do that over this time period is even more incredible.”