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Di Stefano, Cruyff and Messi - Football legends are not made by World Cups, says Crespo

01:00 GMT+3 16/06/2018
Lionel Messi Argentina
The former Chelsea and Argentina striker thinks that his compatriot has nothing to prove this summer in Russia

Hernan Crespo says Lionel Messi is already a legend and that he shares the status of Johan Cruyff and Alberto Di Stefano, who were regarded as the best in the world but never lifted the World Cup.

Argentina have had a turbulent qualification campaign and needed Messi's goals on the final day to get into the upcoming 2018 World Cup in Russia. He scored a hat-trick against Ecuador in the final game to send the two- time World champions to another major tournament.

Crespo is fourth on the all-time top scorer list of Argentina and earned 64 caps for his country. Messi ranks at number one for goals in his national team and Crespo thinks that his compatriot doesn't need to win the World Cup to be as legendary as Diego Maradona.

"I don’t want to compare Maradona and Messi. We are proud because they are both Argentine and we a really proud of that," Crespo told Goal. "I think it is not important to compare him. It is Messi. He is great and that’s even if he never wins the World Cup.

"He would be like Di Stefano or Johan Cruyff that were the greatest players in the world, even without winning the World Cup. I think Messi, from his generation, deserves to win the World Cup. But football isn’t about what you deserve, you just have to do it and that’s it."

Argentina are now led by Jorge Sampaoli, who replaced Edgardo Bauza during the qualification campaign. However, the results have remained inconsistent and Argentina have suffered two big friendly defeats against Nigeria and Spain.

Crespo thinks that Argentina's problems come from a lack of midfielders, but thinks his country can win the World Cup as they have the best player in the world in Messi.

"I hope that the national team can win the trophy, but it is not easy," he continued. "I think we are one step down from the favourites of Spain or Germany. I think we are at the same level as England, Brazil or Belgium, but we have a chance because we have great players. We have a new manager that was in charge for the last 10 games.

"It is not easy for him to win something important but I dream because we have a great player like Messi. There’s also Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala. I hope he call Icardi. You never know, it is one month where anything can happen.

"You need balance, yes. We have problems in the midfield because we don’t have many options. Our forwards are perfect because we have a lot of options to score. Different ways they can combine to score, but you need somebody in the midfield. We have a few players but there aren’t enough at the highest level.

"[Javier] Mascherano doesn’t play at a high level because he is in China. [Ever] Banega is at Sevilla but he has good moments and bad moments. The other one is [Lucas] Biglia, he is at AC Milan but has a lot of injuries. We don’t have a lot of choices."

Crespo played under Roberto Mancini at Inter, who has recently been announced as the Italian national team boss. The 42-year-old says Mancini has always dreamed of managing his country and wished him the best in his new role.

"I know him very well," Crespo added. "I think for him it is a dream to manage the national team. I am very happy whenever he is happy. He is my friend."