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"Messi the best player I've played against," says Real Madrid legend Raul

ANALYST
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4.51K   //    01 May 2015, 12:35 IST
Raul SI
Raul signed with North American Soccer League club New York Cosmos in the United States

Lionel Messi is the best player former Real Madrid captain Raul has played against as the New York Cosmos striker admitted during his interview with Sports Illustrated. Raul, in his 16-year-long career at Real Madrid, has faced the Barcelona forward on several occasions, and insists that there is no one like him.

Raul is Real Madrid’s all-time top goalscorer, having scored 323 goals in the Blanca kit and is also their most-capped player with 741 appearances. Since leaving the club in 2010, the former Spain captain has gone on to play for Bundesliga club Schalke 04 and Qatar-based side Al-Sadd.

Messi the best opponent

“Messi is the best player I ever played against,” reveals Raul. “I was lucky enough to play with Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo, Luis Figo, Cristiano Ronaldo, but Messi is different. Messi makes everything look so easy, so effortless – even the impossible.”

“When you watch him play, it’s almost as though you are watching him in the street playing with his mates,” he added. “In my early days, the best players I ever faced would have been Roberto Baggio and Ryan Giggs.”

When asked who the toughest defender he had come up against was, he named Milan legend Paolo Maldini, which doesn’t really come as a big surprise.

“The best defender I came up against was Paolo Maldini, he was a strong and elegant player. I remember how difficult it was to play against him,” he answered. “He’s one of the best centre-backs in football history. His attitude out on the pitch was amazing. He’s a football idol.”

“And the best keeper is Oliver Kahn. Those Champions League duels with Bayern were so tough,” he added.

Hoping to see Madrid in Champions League final

Raul was also asked what he thought about Madrid’s chances of winning silverware this season.

“Madrid are well-placed. They have a difficult game against Juventus in the Champions League – Juve are a very good side with some very talented players. But I am hoping to see Madrid in the final in Berlin," said Raul.

Real Madrid are currently second in the league, two points below league leaders who are favourites to wrap up the league this season.

“As for La Liga, that’s a bit more complicated. Barca thrashed Getafe the other night but there are still four games to go and anything is possible. I just hope Madrid maintain the momentum right up until the last day.”

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