What's the story?
Former Argentina and Barcelona striker Javier Saviola believes that despite failing to inspire his country to an international title, former teammate Lionel Messi remains the best player in the world.
In case you didn't know...
Messi's international future is still up in the air as the five-time Ballon d'Or winner had asked the Argentine FA for a break from duties with the national team following his country's early exit from the World Cup in Russia last summer.
The 31-year-old talisman has failed to replicate his Barcelona successes with La Albiceleste, and the immense pressure on his shoulders to bring a trophy home has left him somewhat disillusioned.
There have been varied reports of the Argentine's return to international football next month, but whether he does return or not remains to be seen.
The heart of the matter
Saviola, who has played alongside Messi for both club and country, has defended his compatriot from critics, maintaining that the Barcelona ace is still the best player in the world and in history, despite his shortcomings with the Argentine national team.
Speaking to Goal, the former Blaugrana star said, "I was Leo's colleague, I know what he feels about the country and how much it hurts when things don't go as he would like. The most important thing is to trust that everything will go well and I believe that the next World Cup will be for Argentina.
"Messi is the best in the world and maybe in history. We are always looking forward to winning some competition with Argentina, which is what we need to conquer. Playing for the National Team is different, because Argentina is not Barcelona. In Barcelona they train all year long, players have been together for many years and all the methods are different. I think that's the big difference," Saviola added.
Saviola has echoed what a few analysts feel about Messi's failures with Argentina. The national team is always hastily put together, which combined with the fact that the onus is always on the Barcelona man to carry everything on his shoulders, would make it very difficult for any player to deliver the goods.
Still, Saviola claiming that Messi is the best in history despite him not winning a single international trophy, suggests that there may be a bit of bias in his words.
The Catalan giants are scheduled to face Valladolid in LaLiga on Sunday night. Messi has, as usual, been in roaring form this domestic season, and he would be expected to continue banging in the goals in the remaining matches.Published 13 Feb 2019, 20:33 IST