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Lionel Messi is the finest talent to have ever graced a football field, says Humberto Maschio, with the Argentine ranking the Barcelona superstar above Pele, Diego Maradona, Johan Cruyff and Alfredo Di Stefano.
For Maschio, Messi is the obvious choice as the six-time Ballon d’Or winner has raised his game above the standard set by those who went before him.
Maschio told Clarin: “I've seenDi Stefano,Pele, Maradona,Cruyff - I've seen them all. But Messi is the best.
“I've faced some of those myself but I repeat, again, Messi is the best.”
Maschio acknowledges that the likes of Pele and Maradona were sporting geniuses, but he still considers them to sit in the shadow of a modern-day superstar.
He added: “They were great players in their time but the pace of the modern game is so different. Just look at the goals Messi has scored.
“Leo doesn't run around much on the pitch but when he needs to, it's as if the ball is stuck to his feet.
“I've seen players with unbelievable pace but when they have the ball, they slow down. Yet with Leo it's the opposite and he does it in such a fantastic way.”
Messi has raised the bar of individual excellence over the course of his stunning career.
He has been able to maintain remarkable standards since bursting onto the scene as a precociously-gifted teenager and now has 633 goals for Barcelona through 729 appearances.
Messi has also registered 70 efforts through 138 outings for Argentina, but is still waiting on a first piece of senior silverware at international level.