Messi needs World Cup win to ‘confirm’ status as best in the world, says Pochettino

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Mauricio Pochettino feels Lionel Messi needs to win the World Cup in order to be considered the number one player in the world.

Mauricio Pochettino believes Lionel Messi needs to win the World Cup with Argentina to “confirm” his status as the best player in the world.

Messi won 11 league titles and four Champions League trophies during an illustrious club career.

However, international success has largely eluded Messi, losing to Germany in the 2014 World Cup final and finishing as Copa America runners-up three times.

Although Messi has finally won the Copa America in 2021, Pochettino feels the 35-year-old needs to win international football’s premier prize to be certified as the best player in the world.

“Like [Diego] Maradona or Pele, you have to confirm it with a trophy,” Pochettino told The Athletic. “When you pick up the trophy, it’s like, ‘Okay, he’s the best in the world.’

“It’s the only thing Messi is missing, lifting the World Cup, and I hope that will happen in Qatar.”

“Because I’m Argentine and of course my wish is for Argentina to win the World Cup and confirm that Messi is one of the best, in the same place as Maradona and Pele.”

Messi joined Paris Saint-Germain after leaving Barcelona in 2021, allowing Pochettino to watch him closely as his head coach.

It also allowed Pochettino to judge Messi against another Argentine great, Maradona, who Pochettino played with briefly at Newell’s Old Boys.

Asked to compare Messi and Maradona, Pochettino explained: “Both are different but both great. I don’t want to compare because when you compare you try to show one better than the other.”

“I think Messi, whether you win the World Cup or not, for me he needs to be on the same level as Pele and Maradona. With different energy, different style, different personalities. But both great.”

Pochettino’s tenure as PSG head coach has lasted just 18 months, but during that time he has also been able to watch Neymar, who is hoping for World Cup success in Qatar with Brazil.

Pochettino rates Neymar as one of the best ever and said: “The way he doesn’t feel pressure, he’s an amazing player. Very charismatic, with amazing energy.

“We can say that Neymar is one of the best players in the history of football. He may not have achieved everything that Messi or Cristiano [Ronaldo] has achieved. But the quality is at the same level.”

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