Barcelona legend Xavi Hernandez has stated that team-mate Lionel Messi is 'already' the best player to ever kick a football.
Messi is only 27 but has won a large haul of medals and set numerous individual records in what has been a stellar career so far.
Since bursting onto the scene as a 17-year-old, Messi has scored 356 goals in 428 matches in all competitions for the club, more than any other player, and his goals have helped the team win six titles, the Copa del Rey twice and the Fifa Club World Cup twice.
He has won the Ballon d’Or four times, more than any other player, and held the award for four consecutive years from 2009 to 2012.
The only thing missing from his CV is an international trophy, though he came mightily close at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil - he won the Golden Ball after being named the tournament's best player.
Xavi, himself a Barcelona legend who has made more appearances for the club than any other player, says Messi is superior to Pele, Diego Maradona, Zinedine Zidane and others who could claim the crown as best ever.
"Messi is the best player in the history of football," says Xavi in an interview with Canal+ that will be shown on Thursday.
"He makes a difference. He’s the best. No one compares. He’s by far the number one player."
Coming off of injury last season Messi lost his Ballon d'Or crown to great rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who helped fire Real Madrid to a tenth European Cup win with 51 goals in 47 matches in all competitions - Messi 'only' scored 41 goals in 46 games in what was his worst season since 2008-09.
Xavi, who is now retired from international football, was linked with an exit from the club in the summer but told the club he "wanted to finish my career at Barca".
He also named Andres Iniesta as the "most talented Spanish player in history".Reuse content