AC Milan great Paolo Maldini's old comments about Lionel Messi on ESPN in 2018 have resurfaced, when the Italian named some of his toughest opponents. The Milan legend played for nearly 40 remarkable years, which understandably saw him play with, and against, quite a few players.
Speaking on ESPN (via GiveMeSport), Maldini named three of the toughest opponents he faced in his career. What attracted attention was his reverence for Lionel Messi, whom he was glad not to have played against. He said:
“First of all, I have had the chance to play against great, great players and I think the best ones were, of course, [Diego] Maradona when he played for Napoli, Ronaldo when he played for Inter – Brazilian Ronaldo – and I didn’t play against Messi because he was injured, thank God he was injured."
When a reporter remarked that Lionel Messi was lucky as he never faced Maldini, the legend was quick to state the opposite, while also naming his third toughest opponent. He said:
“No, no, I was lucky. I also played against [Michel] Platini, so a long, long time ago. So these three maybe were the best I played against.”
While other legends mentioned have long retired from the beautiful game, the legendary Argentine is still plying his trade at Paris Saint-Germain (PSG).
Lionel Messi could move back to Camp Nou: Reports
If Maldini had faced Lionel Messi, it would've been when the attacker was in his youth and still playing for Barcelona. Messi left the Blaugrana last year after the Catalan club were unable to register him due to their well-documented financial issues.
The forward signed a two-year deal with PSG with a potential option for a 12-month extension, but could return to Catalonia as soon as next summer.
This is according to ESPN's Gemma Soler, who stated that Barcelona could re-sign the forward in the future, with the relationship between the two parties steadily improving.
According to Soler, the Catalan giants have worked towards mending their relationship with Messi and are now confident that the worst is behind them. If a return does materialize, it would be an emotional reunion for both parties, who have not enjoyed the best of times since their separation.
Lionel Messi has been far from his glittering best at PSG, falling behind former Barcelona teammate Neymar and prodigy Kylian Mbappe in the French capital. Although the Argentine maestro won the Ligue 1 title last season, he could only score six goals in 26 league appearances.
He has, however, found his scoring boots under new PSG boss Christophe Galtier this season. The 35-year-old has scored three goals in as many appearances across all competitions so far.
Barcelona endured a fairly disappointing season last year but were rejuvenated following the arrival of Messi’s former teammate Xavi Hernandez as manager.
Barca is looking stronger under the Spaniard’s guidance and Messi is looking like his old self so far this season. A reunion next summer could be the stuff of dreams for Culers around the world.