Diego Maradona says Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are a “cut above” the rest and does not think anyone will get even close to matching their achievements.
Maradona himself is widely considered one of the game’s greatest ever players after an illustrious career that included trophy-laden spells at Barcelona and Napoli and, perhaps most famously, a starring role in Argentina’s 1986 World Cup triumph in Mexico.
Few have come close to matching Maradona’s achievements since, though Messi and Ronaldo certainly enter the conversation.
The duo is arguably the two greatest players of the modern era, netting goals with alarming consistency and winning more 60 honours between them, including league titles in England, Spain and Italy and nine Champions League triumphs.
It is little surprise therefore that Maradona chose Messi and Ronaldo when asked to pick out his favourite players from the current generation.
“Messi and Cristiano, Cristiano and Messi. For me, these two are a cut above the others,” Maradona told France Football.
“I don’t see anyone approaching them. Not a single person [will] achieve half of what they do.”
Reflecting on his playing career ahead of his 60th birthday at the end of this month, Maradona couldn’t resist having another cheeky dig at England when asked what his dream gift would be on his big day.
I dream of being able to score another goal against the English, with the right hand this time,” he laughed, referring to his infamous ‘Hand of God’ goal against the Three Lions at the 1986 World Cup.
Maradona also revealed he had agreed on a shock deal to join French side Marseille from Napoli after helping the Serie A club to UEFA Cup success in 1989.
However, Napoli president Corrado Ferlaino blocked the deal despite initially giving Maradona his blessing to move on.
“The leaders of Marseille contacted me and offered to double my salary,” said Maradona.
“I was playing in Naples at the time and president Ferlaino told me that if we won the European Cup (the UEFA Cup), he would let me go.
“[Marseille president] Bernard Tapie and [manager] Michel Hidalgo even came as far as Italy to see me make me a proposal and so that we could all discuss it together.
“Once I returned to Naples I said to Ferlaino ‘thank you President for all these beautiful years, I am going’.
“At that point, he started playing the fool, like he didn’t understand, and he backtracked. End of the story.