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Ancelotti refuses to call Messi 'the best in history' as Real Madrid boss makes Benzema declaration

7:44 PM IST 29/12/22
Lionel Messi Argentina 2022
Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti has refused to call Lionel Messi "the best in history" and seemingly thrown Karim Benzema into the debate.
  • Ancelotti unsure over Messi claims
  • Refuses to call him best in history
  • Adds Benzema into conversation

WHAT HAPPENED? Ahead of Real Madrid's return to action following the conclusion of the World Cup, Ancelotti was quizzed on all things football by reporters. With Messi having won the tournament with Argentina, naturally he was asked if he now considers him to be the best player in history, to which he gave a rather interesting response.

WHAT HE SAID: Ancelotti explained: "It's hard to say. He's a great footballer. His career is spectacular but if he's the best in history, I don't know because each era has had very important players. Saying that he's been the best in history isn't going to come out of my mouth."

THE BIGGER PICTURE: The Real boss went further in his analysis of the debate, suggesting that his own striker, Karim Benzema, has a right to be in the conversation: "I have enjoyed all the players and now I have a Ballon d'Or (winner) every day here (Benzema). I have seen Maradona and Cruyff and I have enjoyed them". The Frenchman won the 2022 Ballon d'Or following an exceptional season where he fired Real to a La Liga and Champions League double, following years of consistent world-class form. Interestingly, though, there was no mention of Cristiano Ronaldo, who Ancelotti coached in his first spell at Real.

AND WHAT'S MORE: Ancelotti also gave an update on Benzema's fitness, with the striker having been left out of France's World Cup squad due to injury. "We've got Benzema back and that's good," he said. "He came back on December 10. He started working with the team, played 30 minutes and 45 minutes in friendlies and he's doing well, with enormous enthusiasm. He knows that his first leg of the season has not been good and he wants to show things in the second. He's going to show all his quality in this stretch of the season."

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WHAT NEXT FOR REAL MADRID? The veteran manager will be hoping the early withdrawal from the World Cup has allowed Benzema to get back to his best possible shape, with the Blancos set to get back to La Liga action against Real Valladolid on Friday.