Lionel Messi will never match Diego Maradona as “the greatest of all”, claims legendary Argentine striker Gabriel Batistuta.
The Barcelona superstar is already assured of a place among the all-time greats, with his exploits for club and country seeing him set a new standard in the modern era.
He will, however, be forever compared with an iconic countryman of the past, with Maradona one of few talents that can claim to have achieved a similar level.
Batistuta believes the 1986 World Cup winner remains the finest to have ever lived, with his remarkable ability complemented by a personality which marks him out above Messi.
A man who netted 54 times for Argentina during his own distinguished career told Corriere dello Sport: “Diego was the greatest of all.
“He represents an Argentinian in many things, not just in football. He has a charisma. He has rare talent and fantasy.
“Messi, even if technically is same or more, he doesn't have more charisma than Maradona had.
“Diego could bring to life the entire stadium. Everyone looked at him. I played with him and I can tell you how decisive he was.”
Messi’s incredible achievements have seen him break countless records on the way to collecting five Ballon d’Or awards.
He has helped Barca to numerous major honours, but remains without silverware at senior international level.
Argentina have made Copa America finals with Messi leading the way, while also reaching the final of the 2014 World Cup, but fate has always conspired against them.
There will be a determination to right those wrongs in Russia this summer, with Messi conceding that he has one last shot at global glory and a CV to match the great Maradona.