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El Pelusa admitted that Lionel Messi reminds him of himself back in his playing days...

Diego Maradona, the coach of the Argentine national team, affirmed that Lionel Messi "deserves" to be compared to him.

"It is fine for him to be compared with me. He never loses the ball, he reminds me of me," Maradona declared to TyC Sports in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia.

"Leo is an exceptional lad. He is quiet, but when he has to say things, he says them. On the football field he has proven his worth as one of the greats, and hopefully it stays like this, for him to continue to grow for the good of the team."

Maradona affirmed that Messi "plays at a different level" for football's actual standards, and "the things he does with the ball appear to be impossible because of the speed he does them with."

Messi was superb in Argentina's 4-0 drubbing of Venezuela on Saturday. Not only did he open the scoring for Los Albicelestes, but he was at the centre of their best attacking moves.

"Leo is a phenomenal player," insisted Maradona, hours before the World Cup qualifier between Bolivia and Argentina in the altitude of La Paz.

Gregory Sica, Goal.com

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