Argentina and Real Zaragoza defender, Roberto Ayala, has told Marca today that he believes Lionel Messi can be as good as Diego Maradona.
Messi, who is impressing in La Primera Division with Barcelona this season, has drawn plenty of comparisons to the Boca Juniors legend, and Ayala declared he can match him.
"He is a player on another level, a rarity, who you watch when Barcelona play to see what he does with the ball. And today, he does what he wants," he mused.
"He can equal Maradona...There has to be care from him and from the club because each game he gives his best and he is a player who takes many tackles, he must be careful. He has everything it takes to continue at this level and it will depend on him and those around him."
The Argentine also put a definitive answer to an argument which has raged around La Liga lately: whether or not Arjen Robben is as good as Messi.
"I would stick with Messi, he is a different player to me, I do not know if Robben has the quality...We are speaking of two very good players, but Messi has a different quality, there is speed, there is skill, there are other things, but Messi has another quality, a left foot," he declared.
Along with Messi, Ayala also praised Maradona, and the work that he is doing as coach of the Argentine national team.
"They have begun well, now they have a very good test against France and I believe the decision to have Maradona as coach is good for everyone, for him, and the team," he explained.
"For him, because we have a man that has given a lot to the team, and for the team because they will have extra motivation to win with the arrival of Diego."
Ayala, who now plays for Real Zaragoza in Segunda, seems to be nearing the end of a distinguished career, but he said he will never forget his time with Valencia.
"I will never forget the love and affection with the fans and the good years that I had there," he concluded.
James Walker-Roberts, Goal.com