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27 Feb, 2020 14:35

‘He would not be able to do what I did’: Diego Maradona says ‘in decline’ Lionel Messi wouldn’t have same impact in Serie A

‘He would not be able to do what I did’: Diego Maradona says ‘in decline’ Lionel Messi wouldn’t have same impact in Serie A

Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi are arguably the two finest Argentinian footballers in history, but the World Cup-winning legend said Messi would struggle to match the impact he made on the Italian game.

Maradona, who almost single-handedly dragged Argentina to their 1986 World Cup win, has long been considered one of the game’s greats. But his status as his country’s best-ever footballer has been under threat from the incredible exploits of Messi over the past decade or so.

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The Barcelona magician has enjoyed tremendous success during his glittering career, winning five Ballon d’Or awards and numerous trophies with his club. But greatness on the international scene has so far eluded him. 

Messi’s impressive goalscoring form has continued this season, with the Barca No.10 scoring 23 times in 29 appearances across all competitions, but his impact hasn’t been the same on the European stage, with just two goals so far in this season’s UEFA Champions League.

Messi once again went goalless during his team’s 1-1 Champions League draw against Napoli this week and Maradona, who represented both clubs during his career, says that Messi wouldn’t be able to match his exploits in the Italian game if he was to join Cristiano Ronaldo by making the switch from La Liga to Serie A.

Messi arrived at (Napoli stadium) San Paolo in decline,” Maradona told Spanish newspaper AS. 

Messi has not lived the life I have. Leo could play extraordinarily in Naples, but he would not be able to do what I did. Let’s be clear about that.”

Maradona won two Serie A titles, as well the Coppa Italia and the UEFA Cup, during his spell in the Italian city between 1984 and 1991, before moving back to Spain for a brief spell with Sevilla, and is remembered as one of the Napoli’s most beloved characters.

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Maradona – currently the manager of Gimnasia La Plata in the Argentinian top flight – still has fond memories of Napoli and says that he hopes some of the sport’s biggest names can help the club to future success, even if his legacy as their best player remains forever intact.

I wish the Neapolitans could have a Messi, even though San Paolo is Diegoed,” he said.