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L. Messi

Messi is 'the best' but World Cup triumph won't end GOAT debate, insists ex-Barcelona team-mate Iniesta

13:13 GMT+4 21/12/2022
Lionel-Messi
Andres Iniesta has insisted that Lionel Messi's World Cup success with Argentina won't end the debate over who is the greatest player of all time.
  • Messi fired Argentina to World Cup win
  • Iniesta believes GOAT debate will still rage
  • Believes Spain should stick to same model of football

WHAT HAPPENED? The Argentine skipper inspired his nation to their third global crown with scintillating displays across the 2022 tournament in Qatar, leading many fans and experts to claim that he is now out in front as the best player in history. However, Messi's former Barcelona team-mate Iniesta believes that the arguments will still go on as there will be "excuses" for those that favour some of the 35-year-old's rivals, such as Cristiano Ronaldo.

WHAT THEY SAID: "I am sure anyone who doesn't view Messi as the best will find an excuse to keep seeing it that way, regardless of whether he won the World Cup or not," Iniesta told ESPN.

"For me, Messi is the best with or without [winning] a World Cup. I think the fact he has won a World Cup, more than what other people [think], is a huge source of happiness for himself. Not just for him, but for Argentina as a country. They are always in the running and the fact they've won it in the way they did makes it totally deserved."

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Iniesta, who scored the goal that gave Spain victory in the 2010 World Cup final against the Netherlands, also weighed in on his nation's disappointing round of 16 exit in Qatar after going down to Morocco. La Roja's failure has led to question marks over whether they should continue with their possession-based football model, but Iniesta has put his weight behind the existing style. "I think the model has to stay the same," he said. "At the end of the day, a model of play is good if you're able to give 100%. The game against Morocco was not lost because of the model or not, but because other things were lacking to win the game. I think the idea has to remain. The only thing is every game is different and you have to try and find solutions on a game-to-game basis. From there, the debate will always exist because there are so many small details that can change games. Maybe if [Pablo] Sarabia scores unsteady if hitting the post in the last minute, this isn't a debate. We were all disappointed to go out but these experiences serve to learn and to improve."

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WHAT NEXT FOR MESSI? Messi is expected to return to Ligue 1 action at club level with Paris Saint-Germain against Strasbourg on December 28.