Messi needs World Cup to be all-time great alongside Maradona, Pele – Pochettino

Messi breaks Argentina’s record for caps at Copa America win (video)
Argentina's Lionel Messi celebrates scoring his side's second goal from the penalty spot during a Copa America soccer match against Bolivia at Arena Pantanal stadium in Cuiaba, Brazil, Monday, June 28, 2021. (AP Photo/Bruna Prado)

Former PSG manager Mauricio Pochettino believes Lionel Messi must lead Argentina to victory in the 2022 World Cup to cement his place as an all-time great.

Pochettino wants to see his country go all the way in Qatar, and Messi will be crucial to their prospects.

He believes Messi needs a World Cup triumph in order to prove his greatness alongside Argentina icon Diego Maradona and Brazil legend Pele.

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When asked if winning the World Cup matters in terms of Messi’s legacy among the best players in football history, Pochettino told The Athletic: ”Yes it matters, because the World Cup is different. Like Maradona or Pele, you need to confirm with the trophy, which is the maximum expression of football. When you lift the trophy, it’s like, ‘OK, he is the best in the world’. It is the only thing missing for Messi, to lift the World Cup, and I hope in Qatar that it happens. Because I am argentino, and of course my desire is for Argentina to win the World Cup. And to confirm Messi is one of the best, in the same place as Maradona and Pele.”

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Qatar 2022 will be the fifth World Cup of Messi’s career, with the Albiceleste coming closest to victory in 2014 by reaching the final against Germany. Pressed on comparisons with Argentina’s 1986 hero Maradona, Pochettino added: “Maradona could play today and Messi could play in the past also. Like Pele or [Alfredo] Di Stefano or [Johan] Cruyff, these type of players, they will adapt, because they are so, so, so clever. They can adapt to every single period of time.”

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