Back in the days of Diego Maradona, Johan Cruyff or Pele, Barcelona's Lionel Messi would have been a substitute, says Hugo Gatti

The former goalkeeper has voiced his opinion that the Fifa Ballon d'Or nominee would not have been a star back in the old days and neither would his Barca team-mates
Former Argentina international Hugo Gatti believes that Barcelona attacker Lionel Messi would have struggled for regular first-team football in the era of players such as Pele, Johan Cruyff and Diego Maradona.

Messi is considered by many to be one of the best players in the history of the game and could be awarded the Ballon d'Or for the third year in succession next week.

However, the 67-year-old Gatti is not impressed with his compatriot and feels Messi would have been a bench-warmer in previous decades.

"The best player ever is without any doubt Pele. After that you have Alfredo [Di Stefano], [Johan] Cruyff, and Diego [Maradona]," Gatti said in an interview with Radio La Red.

"In those times, Messi would have been a substitute rather than a star.

"All of these Barcelona players who say they play for the best team in the world would have been bench-warmers in the times of Maradona and Cruyff."

Gatti made 18 international appearances for Argentina between 1967 and 1977.

Starting in November and continuing through January, Goal.com is publishing exclusive extracts from Graham Hunter's highly-anticipated new book, 'Barca: The Making of the Greatest Team in the World'. Last Friday's extract took a closer look at the most influential figure in the club's history: Johan Cruyff: Don't miss it!