Lionel Messi on turning down No 10 at PSG, comparison with Diego Maradona
- Lionel Messi won the Ballon D'Or last week
- He scored 30 goals for Barcelona last season
- He scored four goals and assisted five in his side's Copa America
Lionel Messi believes the No 10 jersey belongs to his Paris Saint Germain teammate Neymar. The seven-time Ballon D'Or winner explained why he turned down the Brazilian's offer to take the elite number.
Speaking to France Football in comments carried by Marca, Messi said, "The ten belongs to him (Neymar). I came to a new team to help. It was an extraordinary gesture on his part – I expected it because I know Neymar. We spent time together at Barcelona and we’re friends. But it seemed more fair that he kept number ten. That’s why I took another one I liked.”
Messi and Neymar played together at Camp Nou for four years before the latter left for PSG in the most expensive transfer - €222 million. The two won four La Liga and one Champions League title for the Catalans.
Messi on Monday won his seventh Ballon d’Or beating Bayern Munich centre-forward Robert Lewandowski. He scored 30 goals for Barcelona last season and was pivotal to their success in the Copa del Rey. The Argentine then made a move to PSG. He scored four goals and assisted five in his side's Copa America.
After Lionel Messi's shift, the former Barcelona talisman was offered the No 10 jersey, which Neymar carries at Parc des Princes. However, Messi opted for a No 30.
Lionel Messi opens up about comparisons with Diego Maradona:
Talking about comparisons with late Argentine legend Diego Maradona, Messi said, "Honestly, I have never compared myself to Diego, absolutely never,” he said. “I never paid attention to those comparisons. Some of the criticisms annoyed me in the past. I had a bad time with the national team, really, but not for those reasons."
“I often get angry at things, at criticism, but it stays in the dressing room. That’s where they should stay, private. It’s intimacy that makes a group strong, in addition to the fact that we can get pissed off and say things to each others faces that can help us improve. This can happen to me and to any other player.”