Manchester United manager and former Barcelona coach, Pep Guardiola, has said that Argentina star and latest World Cup winner, Lionel Messi, is the greatest footballer of all time.
In an interview seen on Sky Sports on Wednesday, Guardiola said Messi’s World Cup triumph confirms he’s the best footballer in history. He added that the World Cup win is the “final achievement of an incredible career” for Messi.
The coach admitted that even if Messi hadn’t won the World Cup he would still rate him as the best.
Guardiola also congratulated Argentine player Julian Alvarez, who is also a Manchester City player, saying “one of our own is a world champion,” as well as Nicolas Otamendi, who was also a former City player.
The Man City boss said, “Everyone has an opinion but nobody can doubt that he is there, with the greatest of all time. For me I said many times, he is the best, but it will be difficult to understand.
“A player can appear and compete with what he has done in the last 50 years to 70 years, but the people who saw Pele or Di Stefano or Maradona, they can say their favourite.
“In their opinions they are sentimental, you know? But on the other side, if he (Messi) had not won the World Cup, my opinion about what he has done for world football, it wouldn’t have changed absolutely anything. Of course, for him it’s the final achievement of an incredible career.
“Do you know why Messi is the best player I’ve ever seen in my life, because he is a competitor. He’s an animal.”
Congratulating Alvarez, Guardiola said, “We are incredibly happy for him (Alvarez), congratulations to him and Nicolas Otamendi, and personally to Lionel Messi.
“For Argentina as a country, they are a well-deserved champion. For Julian, he is with us and we are delighted because he played a lot.
“His contribution was amazing for the team and the way they played. We have a world champion in our team.”
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Inter Miami’s official social media account experienced an extraordinary surge, from 2.1 to 4.5 million followers in 12 hours, more than doubling its follower count accumulated over the previous five years.
However, the impact of the ‘Lionel Messi effect’ extends beyond Inter Miami. The announcement of Messi joining the team sent shockwaves throughout Major League Soccer (MLS), signifying a potential game-changing moment for football in the United States and Canada.
The goat (greatest of all time) is coming,” MLS tweeted.
“Millions of MLS fans all over the world welcome you, Leo.”
Among those highly interested in Messi’s arrival in MLS was the league’s commissioner, Don Garber, who took to Twitter to stress that “This should be fun.”
According to Jim Curtin, head coach of the Philadelphia Union, it was likely the greatest day in MLS history.
“It’s the best player that the sport of soccer has ever had, in my opinion,” he noted.
LAFC’s Colombian defender, Jesus Murillo, expressed enthusiasm about facing Messi as an opponent, stating that as a player, he always wanted to compete against the best.
Meanwhile, LAFC coach Steve Cherundolo avoided answering questions about Messi’s arrival, humorously stating that he had many thoughts but preferred not to share them at the moment.
Atlanta United, who faced LAFC that night, posted an image on Instagram featuring Argentine player Thiago Almada alongside Messi and a World Cup trophy, symbolizing two world champions now in MLS.
Messi’s arrival received recognition beyond the football world as well. Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis
Antetokounmpo, who is a member of the ownership group of MLS’ Nashville SC, wrote, “Welcome to MLS Messi! See you in Nashville.”
Harry Maguire tops list of Man United players to be offloaded
Manchester United are set for a major clear-out this summer with defender Harry Maguire topping the list of players to be offloaded.
It is understood that both player and club would reach an agreement to part ways despite the England international having a contract that runs till 2025.
According to Italian journalist, Fabrizio Romano, United have a list of six players to be released as the club aim to shake up the squad ahead of the new season.
Aside Maguire, Wough Weghorst, Dean Henderson, Eric Bailly, Don Van De Beek and Alex Telles complete the list of the players the club considered surplus to requirements.
With the Red Devils back in the UEFA Champions League, strengthening the squad to challenge in Europe appears to be a priority for the Old Trafford board.
Guardiola commends Man City 4-0 victory over Real Madrid
Real Madrid Manager, Pep Guardiola on Wednesday said that Manchester City were perfectly prepared with the right mix of calmness and tension for their Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid.
The English champions dismantled the holders 4-0 with a ruthless display to secure a 5-1 aggregate win.
The result meant Manchester City secured a final berth against Inter Milan where they will bid to win European club soccer’s most prestigious trophy for the first time.
It was sweet revenge for a painful semi-final loss to Real Madrid 12 months ago.
“I had the feeling these last days that we had a mix of calm and tension to play these type of games.
“And after 10 or 15 minutes, I had the feeling that all the pain that we had, what happened last season . . . it was really tough, losing the way we lost and I think in the moment we had to swallow poison,” Guardiola told reporters.
Real Madrid knocked Manchester City out 12 months ago 6-5 on aggregate after an extraordinary late comeback.
“In sport, obviously you have another chance and when the draw was Madrid, I said, ‘Yeah, I want it’,” Guardiola said.
Bernardo Silva netted a first-half double to put City in control and, after Erling Haaland failed to convert two gilt-edge chances, Manuel Akanji and Julian Alvarez completed the rout.
Real Madrid arrived with history on their side as title-holders and record 14-times European champions.
But Manchester City, buoyed by an unbeaten 23-game run in all competitions, had not lost in 26 Champions League matches at the Etihad Stadium, which was a writhing sea of sky blue for the visit of the Spanish giants.
Manchester City had played the 2021 semi-final against Paris St Germain in Manchester with no fans in attendance due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This time the players stayed on the pitch long after the final whistle to celebrate, with Haaland wearing a Norwegian flag draped around his shoulders.
“(Tonight was) much, much better,” Guardiola said. “I felt, I don’t know why, you smelled that the team was ready to compete at the level that they competed today.”
City are three wins away from a treble as they play Manchester United in the FA Cup final on June 3 and could win the Premier League as early as Saturday.
“We’re closer. This season is really really good, what we’ve really done already.
“The pleasure, the joy, how much we have fun this season again and again. We make happy our fans, all around the world watching us, they see a good team playing. This is the biggest compliment,” Guardiola said.
Guardiola added that the players, staff and families would gather for a team breakfast before enjoying a day off on Thursday ahead of their preparations for their final push to clinch the English League title.
Victory over Inter Milan in the Champions League final in Istanbul on June 10 would secure the one trophy Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mansour has craved since buying Manchester City in 2008.
Manchester City lost to Chelsea two years ago in their only previous appearance in the final.
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