Real Madrid star Federico Valverde has named Lionel Messi as the player who caused him the most problems when tasked with marking the Barcelona icon.
Valverde has come up against Messi on 12 occasions for both club and country. He's been on the winning side four times while losing six matches against the 2022 FIFA World Cup winner.
Lionel Messi has managed two goals and three assists in those games and has been a thorn in the Real Madrid midfielder's flesh. The 25-year-old admitted as much during an interview recently.
Valverde was asked which player has caused him the most problems when marking him. He responded (via MadridXtra):
Lionel Messi is regarded as one of the most difficult attackers to play against in history. He's destroyed defenses with his quick feet and football IQ, bagging 721 goals and 344 assists in 888 club games while at Barca, Paris Saint-Germain, and Inter Miami.
The 36-year-old has also been tough to handle on the international stage. He's Argentina's all-time top goalscorer with 106 goals and 56 assists in 178 caps.
The Inter Miami superstar has won the Ballon d'Or seven times during his illustrious career. He's expected to win a record eighth award later this month after captaining Argentina to the World Cup last year.
Real Madrid icon Marcelo is in agreement with Valverde over Lionel Messi being his toughest opponent
Former Real Madrid captain Marcelo also admitted that Lionel Messi was his toughest opponent earlier this year. The Brazilian has faced the Barca hero 33 times during his career.
Messi lit up the El Clasico rivalry over the past two decades with 26 goals and 14 assists in 31 games. He was on the winning side 15 times during those clashes and will go down as one of, if not the greatest stars to play in the rivalry.
Marcelo heaped praise on Lionel Messi by labeling him as incredible. The Real Madrid legend praised the Argentina icon's capabilities to still perform at the highest level despite being in his mid-thirties (via GOAL):
"Messi is incredible, the toughest opponent I’ve ever faced. We all know the quality he has even now, aged 35, and before it was the same. El Clasico has always been one of the best games to watch and play. I was lucky enough to have featured in one of the best eras of Clasicos."
Both Marcelo and Messi no longer play their football in La Liga as the Real Madrid icon plays his football at Brazilian side Fluminense. Meanwhile, Messi continues to wow fans at Inter Miami in the MLS.
The 10-time La Liga champion has given Marcelo's praise merit with scintillating performances in the twilight of his career. He's bagged 11 goals and five assists in 13 games across competitions at DRV PNK.