Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola does not doubt that Lionel Messi is the greatest player of all time. His opinion would not change even if the forward had not taken Argentina to the World Cup triumph in Qatar, the Spaniard stated on Wednesday.
Guardiola calls Messi the best even without World Cup exploits
Messi scored two goals and again in the shootout as he guided Argentina to a dramatic 4-2 win on penalties over France on Sunday, with the final concluding 3-3 after 120 minutes of incredible action.
The 35-year-old, who enjoyed a trophy-laden tenure under Guardiola during his time at Barcelona, also received the Golden Ball award for the finest player, with supporters stating his performance had further improved his standing. Guardiola said City s 16 players at the competition would slowly return for club duty.
“Everyone has (an) opinion but nobody can doubt that he s there as the greatest of all time,” Guardiola told reporters before Thursday s League Cup fourth-round clash against Liverpool.
“For me, he s the best. It s difficult to understand that a player can compete with what he s done.
“The people who have seen Pele, Alfredo Di Stefano or Diego Maradona… the opinions are sentimental, but the other side, if he (Messi) wouldn t have won the World Cup, the opinion and my opinion wouldn t change.”
“Today, six players came back. They had an incredible, unique experience. Hopefully they come back and work well and in four years they can have another experience in Canada, Mexico and the United States,” Guardiola said.
“The players who were at the World Cup are in better condition than the players who were here. Sergio (Gomez), Erling (Haaland), Riyad (Mahrez), and Cole (Palmer), they re missing the rhythm a bit compared to Rodri or Manuel Akanji.
“I m not concerned about March or April. Now every player has had different managers, a different competition… we have an important game tomorrow, then (in the Premier League) against Leeds (United). The January schedule is demanding so we want them back as soon as possible.”