Barcelona and Argentina captain Lionel Messi has paid tribute to Diego Maradona who died at the age of 60 on Wednesday.
Messi took to social media to offer his thoughts following news that the soccer world has lost one of the greatest players ever to grace the game.
He wrote, “A very sad day for all Argentines and football. He leaves us but does not leave, because Diego is eternal. I keep all the beautiful moments lived with him and wanted to take advantage to send condolences to all his family and friends. RIP.”
Maradona joined Barcelona from Boca Juniors in 1982, and spent two years at the Camp Nou before moving on to Napoli. He won the Copa del Rey and the Spanish Super Cup during his brief spell with the club and while there were certainly moments of magic it was a difficult time overall for Maradona.
Illness and injury disrupted his time at the Camp Nou, and his last game for the club came in the final of the Copa del Rey against Athletic Club which saw Maradona lash out at Miguel Sola and the game end in a mass brawl.
Maradona was subsequently hit with a three-month ban from Spanish football but moved on to Italian club Napoli where he enjoyed great success, winning two Serie A titles, the Coppa Italia and the UEFA Cup.
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Barcelona and Puyol Tributes
Barcelona have also paid tribute to Maradona and been joined by current and former stars in offering their thoughts on the Argentine genius.
Former Barcelona captain Carles Puyol wrote on Instagram, “Rest in peace, friend. A very strong hug for your family and for the Argentine people.” Meanwhile, former Barca star Javier Mascherano posted a message on Twitter that read, “Eternally Thanks Diego for everything you gave us !!! Rest in peace. You earned it more than enough.”
The Argentine Football Association expressed in a statement “its deepest sorrow for the death of our legend”, adding: “You will always be in our hearts,” while Argentina president Alberto Fernandez has announced three days of national mourning.
Maradona, Messi and the GOAT Debate
There’s no doubt that when it comes to debating the greatest players of all time that the names of both Maradona and Messi will both feature heavily. Indeed Messi’s inability to lead Argentina to glory is often used against him when it comes to comparisons with Maradona.
Messi has won every title possible with Barcelona and also claimed the Ballon d’Or a record six times. Maradona spoke about comparisons between the two back in February before Barca’s Champions League clash with Napoli, as reported by Marca.
Leo is a great talent, a very good boy, but they want him to carry unfair amounts of pressure. He has to live his life and career knowing he is the best footballer, yet there have been comparisons for almost 20 years, what is there to compare?
Maradona managed Messi with Argentina from 2008-10 when the former attacking midfielder took charge of the national team. He left two years later after the Argentinian Football Association (AFA) agreed not to renew his contract.
Messi may just have one more shot at World Cup glory with Argentina in 2022. The captain will be 34 by the time the tournament kicks off in Qatar with Argentina aiming to be crowned world champions for the first time since Maradona inspired the team to glory in 1986.