Former Germany international and five-time Bundesliga champion Holger Badstuber believes Lionel Messi would be “the greatest” if he lifts the World Cup with Argentina.
Messi was at the heart of Argentina’s emphatic 3-0 semi-final victory over Croatia on Wednesday night, scoring a penalty as he looks to challenge Kylian Mbappe for the tournament’s Golden Boot award, as well as winning the competition with his country.
The 35-year-old Paris Saint-Germain forward has been much improved after his underwhelming debut season in Ligue 1 last year, and has played his most consistent and dangerous football for his country in Qatar.
“He is Argentina’s top star, he is the one who has decided the games so far,” Badstuber, who reached the semi-finals of the World Cup with Germany in 2010, told Eurosport.
“When it’s dangerous up front, he’s always involved. He plays the last pass, he scores the goals, he creates the chances.
“Messi is the man who stands out for Argentina. He senses the chance, he’s hot for the trophy, the team and the whole nation are behind him.”
Asked whether Messi would settle any remaining debate over whether he is the greatest player in history, Badstuber said: “I would say yes.
“That drives him on even more. If he should hold this trophy in his hands, it will be difficult not to consider him the greatest.”
Messi has been linked with a new contract at PSG and has also been mooted for a return to former club Barcelona, as well as a high-profile and money-spinning switch to MLS with David Beckham’s Inter Miami setup.
For now he seems to have held off a challenge from Cristiano Ronaldo, who left the tournament when Portugal were defeated by Morocco, and whose time in Europe might be up, as speculation suggests he will agree a massive two-year contract to move to Saudi Arabia, though Ronaldo has denied any agreements have been finalised.
Argentina’s victory puts them in the final for Sunday where they will meet the winner of France v Morocco in the tournament’s other semi-final.