Tottenham legend’s take on Lionel Messi

Kilbane Ireland Messi

Tottenham Hotspur legend Ossie Ardiles claims that Lionel Messi plays in a better side than the Diego Maradona-inspired Argentina team that won the 1986 World Cup.

Messi has come in for criticism in certain quarters for failing to replicate his Barcelona exploits with his national team.

At the age of 26, the forward is Barca's all-time leading scorer and the only player in history to win the Ballon d'Or four times, but his World Cup campaigns with La Albiceleste have ended with quarter-final defeats to Germany in 2006 and 2010.

Many have tipped Messi to shine in Brazil to cement his legacy as one of the greatest players of all time, but former Spurs man Ardiles thinks that the Barcelona superstar has more talented teammates than Maradona did when he led them to glory in Mexico in 1986.

Writing in his column in The Times of India, Ardiles wrote: "There is a lot of expectation on Messi.

"Everyone talks about how Maradona made the 1986 edition his own, and all expect Messi to do the same. But Messi has a better team than Maradona did in 1986 and luckily for him, he has people like Sergio Aguero and Angel di Maria alongside him."

Ardiles added that Messi and his teammates are under massive pressure to win the World Cup in Brazil this summer.

"All the top players in the world today, whether it is Cristiano Ronaldo, Arjen Robben or Robin van Persie, play under huge pressure," he wrote. "How they handle it is what matters. Despite the pressure they still have to go out there and do their job.

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"Argentina are one of the clear favourites and as they go into their first match with Bosnia. Argentina fans would love to see their team lift the cup, more so because they would be doing so in their arch-rivals' backyard. So there is enormous pressure on Messi and Co."

Alejandro Sabella's side kick off their World Cup campaign on Sunday evening against Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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