The Italian legend says that the Barcelona ace will always be regarded as inferior to his Argentine compatriot unless he claims glory in Russia
Lionel Messi can’t claim to be the best player of all time unless he wins the World Cup, according to Italy legend Andrea Pirlo.
One of football’s biggest debates over the past decade has been whether Messi is superior to Argentine compatriot Diego Maradona.
Maradona is regarded by many as the best footballer in history after virtually single-handedly taking a modest Argentina side to World Cup glory
And Pirlo believes that Messi – despite winning five Ballons d’Or and breaking countless records for Barcelona – can’t overtake Maradona until he also lifts football’s biggest prize.
“It will be important for both Messi himself and for Argentina to win the World Cup in Russia,” Pirlo told Goal as he teamed up with Uber Eats ahead of Russia 2018.
“Messi is always compared to Maradona but he needs to win the World Cup because if you don’t win the World Cup you can’t be up there with the very best.”
Argentina’s preparations for Russia 2018 have been fraught with difficulties. They were thrashed 6-1 by Spain in a recent friendly and had their last game against Israel cancelled.
But despite all the doom and gloom surrounding Messi’s chances of finally winning the World Cup at his fourth and probably final attempt, Pirlo believes that Argentina can do well at the tournament.
“Argentina have had the time now to improve and find the right players for the World Cup and I think they are going to do well in Russia despite the big loss they had against Spain,” the Italian stated.
“Argentina have a lot of good players and if their top players perform they are going to do well.”
Pirlo played in three World Cups during his legendary career, famously lifting the trophy in 2006, but his last appearance four years ago in Brazil was a disappointing one as Italy were eliminated in the group stage after a 1-0 loss to Uruguay.
That game is best remembered for Luis Suarez biting Giorgio Chiellini, an offence that went unpunished during the match but would see the striker banned for four months from all football activity.
However, Pirlo explained that he holds no ill-will towards Suarez despite the incident being crucial in Italy’s elimination as the score was goalless at that time.
“After the game, the Italy players and myself were just depressed by the result,” Pirlo recalled.
“The biting incident was something else but we were more down because we had lost and gone out of the World Cup.
“It was an incident that can happen on the pitch and in this case the referee didn’t see it.”
Pirlo named Brazil as his favourites to win the World Cup in Russia, believing them to be the “most concrete” team in the finals while he also singled out England’s Harry Kane as a player he is looking forward to watching.
“My favourite England player is Harry Kane,” Pirlo said.
“He’s really good and powerful, he’s scored so many goals in the last years and he is one of the players I am going to follow closely at the World Cup.”
Finally, after Italy failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 60 years, Pirlo revealed that he will not be cheering on any other team instead.
“As Italy are not there, I will not be supporting any team in particular. I’m going to watch all the games but I’m not going to support any teams,” he concluded.
Andrea Pirlo will spend his first World Cup as a fan since 2002 at home with McDelivery from Uber Eats.
With more than 3.2 billion people expected to tune in to watch the World Cup at home this year, McDonald’s, the official FIFA World Cup sponsor has partnered with Uber Eats to offer McDelivery in 26 countries for the first time ever during a FIFA World Cup.