Argentine star compared to greats

09:20, March 19, 2010      

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Lionel Messi earned himself comparisons with sporting greats Diego Maradona and Michael Jordan after the Barcelona forward's brilliant performance in the Champions League on Wednesday.

After scoring a hattrick against Valencia in La Liga on Sunday, Messi netted twice and helped create another to inspire Barca to a 4-0 win over VfB Stuttgart at the Nou Camp and send the holders through to the quarterfinals 5-1 on aggregate.

"I think he is certainly one of the best in the world and people are right to make comparisons with Diego Maradona," Stuttgart coach Christian Gross said.

"It's amazing when you think he is still only 22. He's just a fantastic player."

Argentina forward Messi also earned effusive praise from Barca coach Pep Guardiola.

"The best players are always in the thick of the action," Guardiola said

"(Michael) Jordan did it with the Bulls, (Kobe) Bryant does it with the Lakers and Leo does it here.

"We want him to stay with us because he's the best and we wouldn't swap him for anyone."

Messi's first goal came in the 13th minute when the FIFA World Player of the Year raced at the Stuttgart defense and smashed the ball past Jens Lehmann into the roof of the net.

His perfectly-weighted pass nine minutes later set Yaya Toure free on the left to cross for Pedro to score Barca's second and Messi struck again on the hour with a clinical drive from the edge of the penalty area.

Source: China Daily
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