Messi needs World Cup triumph to confirm all-time great status alongside Maradona & Pele, says Pochettino

Lionel Messi Argentina 2022-23Getty Images
  • Poch believes win would prove Messi's greatness
  • Feels Messi could play in Maradona's era
  • Argentina haven't won tournament since 1986

WHAT HAPPENED? The former Paris Saint-Germain and Tottenham boss is eager to see his home nation go all the way in Qatar, and Messi will be key to their chances. He believes Messi needs a World Cup triumph in order to prove his greatness alongside Argentina icon Diego Maradona and Brazil legend Pele.

WHAT THEY SAID: Asked if winning the World Cup matters in terms of Messi's legacy among the best players in football history, Pochettino told The Athletic: ''Yes it matters, because the World Cup is different. Like Maradona or Pele, you need to confirm with the trophy, which is the maximum expression of football. When you lift the trophy, it’s like, ‘OK, he is the best in the world’. It is the only thing missing for Messi, to lift the World Cup, and I hope in Qatar that it happens. Because I am argentino, and of course my desire is for Argentina to win the World Cup. And to confirm Messi is one of the best, in the same place as Maradona and Pele.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Qatar 2022 will be the fifth World Cup of Messi's career, with the Albiceleste coming closest to victory in 2014 by reaching the final against Germany. Pressed on comparisons with Argentina's 1986 hero Maradona, Pochettino added: "Maradona could play today and Messi could play in the past also. Like Pele or [Alfredo] Di Stefano or [Johan] Cruyff, these type of players, they will adapt, because they are so, so, so clever. They can adapt to every single period of time.''

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IN THREE PHOTOS:

Messi Argentina 27 09 2022Getty Images

Diego MaradonaGetty

Pele Brazil 1970 World CupGetty

DID YOU KNOW? Messi leads Argentina in caps (165) and goals scored (91) for Argentina, followed by Javier Mascherano and Gabriel Batistuta, respectively.

WHAT NEXT FOR MESSI? After a captain's performance on Wednesday against UAE which saw Messi grab a goal and an assist, the boy from Rosario will lead out the Albiceleste against Saudi Arabia in their Group C opener on Tuesday.