21 big names who have declared Messi the GOAT: Neymar, Rooney, Guardiola…

Quick Reads
Lusail, Qatar. 18th Dec, 2022. Soccer, World Cup 2022 in Qatar, Argentina - France, Final, at Lusail Stadium, Argentina's Lionel Messi kisses the World Cup trophy as he receives the "Golden Ball Award"

Lionel Messi has taken a major step to securing his legacy as the greatest player in the history of football by finally lifting the biggest trophy of them all – the World Cup. 

At the age of 35, he’s won the most prestigious trophy going, having scored seven goals at Qatar 2022, while also being given the Golden Ball award for the best individual player.

Some of the biggest names in the sport have declared Messi as the GOAT – above Diego Maradona, Pele, and his great rival Cristiano Ronaldo.

Having already won seven Ballon d’Or, four Champions Leagues, 11 league titles and countless more trophies, there can be no argument that the Argentinian icon has secured his place in the annals of history.

Here are 18 big names from the world of football that consider Messi to be the greatest of all time.

Pep Guardiola

“He is the best player of all time. I compare him with Pele. I am so happy to see this football,” Guardiola said in 2015, after Messi’s Barcelona knocked Bayern Munich out of the Champions League en route to the treble.

READ: The four times Lionel Messi has faced a Pep Guardiola team and how he fared

Wayne Rooney

Luka Modric

“Hopefully (Messi) win this World Cup, he is the best player in history and he deserves it,” Modric told reporters, following Argentina’s 3-0 victory over Croatia

“He is having a great World Cup, he is showing his quality and greatness in every game.”

Neymar

“Losing hurts me, it hurts me… it’s something I haven’t learned to live with yet. When I lost, I went to give a hug to the biggest and best in history that I saw playing,” the Brazilian wrote on social media after losing 1-0 to Messi’s Argentina in the 2021 Copa America final.

“My friend and brother MESSI, I was sad and I told him: ‘You beat me.’ I’m very sad for having lost. But this guy is awesome! I have great respect for what he has done for football and especially for me. I HATE TO LOSE!!!! But enjoy your title, football was waiting for you for that moment! CONGRATULATIONS BROTHER.”

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by NJ 🇧🇷 (@neymarjr)

Arsene Wenger

The legendary Arsenal manager had already made up his mind when Messi was just 22 years old.

John Terry

James Maddison

Jesse Lingard

Jamie Carragher

Trent Alexander-Arnold

“Nothing needs to be said on that,” the Liverpool right-back told talkSPORT during the World Cup. 

“The best player ever. As he’s getting older, it’s still magic to watch him. He’s something that I don’t think I’ll ever see again. I’m just trying to enjoy every minute watching him.”

Andrew Robertson

“I sometimes play as a fan and not as a professional footballer, which is maybe my downfall at times,” Robertson reminisced in That Peter Crouch Podcast.

“Me and Fabinho were tracking Messi back and we both ended up on the ground and I just ruffled his hair a bit. He wasn’t too happy and it’s something I wouldn’t do again, that’s for sure.

“It’s disrespectful to the best player who’s ever played the game. That match, I’ve never seen a changing room so pumped up. I don’t know what came over me.

“I do regret it but it’s something everyone always mentions to me. I wasn’t thinking. In the Nou Camp in the first leg I thought I dealt with him as well as I could have but he still walked off with two goals in a 3-0 win and all everyone is talking about is Messi.”

LeBron James

Gary Lineker

“Never mind Messi’s goal scoring records. Never mind that Messi’s the best dribbler ever. Messi’s also the best passer the game’s ever seen,” Lineker tweeted back in 2015.

He evidently hasn’t changed his mind over the years.

Ilkay Gundogan

“Lionel Messi [is the best player in the world],” the Manchester City midfielder told Goal.

“In my opinion, he has very special abilities. He has talent and he always manages to show it on the pitch. He always has the instinct to make the right decision.

“He uses his speed well against the opponents he plays. He has a strong finish. All in all, no one else has as much quality as Lionel Messi.

“He is the star player of my generation and the greatest footballer of all time. I hope we get to watch him play for a few more years.”

Frenkie de Jong

Declan Rice

“You know what, it is such a hard question because obviously what him and Cristiano Ronaldo have done is a freak of nature, nobody will ever do that ever again,” the England international said, speaking to Gary Neville on The Overlap.

“Messi, I just feel what he does with a football, he is just special, and I don’t think we will ever see a player like that ever again.”

Ander Herrera

“You are asking for 50 goals per season. From there, if he doesn’t score them, people talk,” Messi’s former team-mate at PSG told Spanish outlet AS.

“Nor should we forget that Leo has had the all-time record in Ligue 1 – he has hit the post 10 times! If he had scored 10 more goals, it would [have] been a very good season for Leo.

“But for me, he is the best of all time, without any discussion. Now I admire him even more for how he manages his day-to-day life with total humility, [and] always with a smile for people.”

Jan Oblak

“It is a difficult question, yes, but with Messi I have always said it. He is spectacular. He is at the highest level. For me he is the best,” Oblak told GOAL.

Rene Higuita

“Let’s value and enjoy Leo Messi… we don’t know how many centuries will have to pass to see another like him.”

Andy Murray

Beth Mead


READ NEXT: An XI of quality players that have been humiliated by Lionel Messi

TRY A QUIZ: Can you name Barcelona’s XI from Lionel Messi’s first game as No.10?