19th April, 2019
Lionel Messi has yet another feather added to his cap as a senior great has come out to declare him the undisputed best football player at the moment, That person is none other than the Brazilian great, Rivaldo.
It will be recalled that Messi was voted fifth in the running for last season’s Ballon d’Or, finishing behind Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann, Cristiano Ronaldo and winner Luka Modric.
However as it stands today, the Argentina international has been at his free-scoring best in 2018-19 netting 45 times in all competitions and setting up another 12 goals for his team-mates in LaLiga alone.
It is therefore not surprising at all that Rivaldo feels Messi is out in front in terms of being the world’s best player at this moment in time and has backed the 31-year-old to win a sixth Ballon d’Or later this year.
“For me, I would give him the Ballon d’Or today for what he’s doing,” Rivaldo told Spanish publication Sport. “Everything that he’s doing is spectacular: the goals, the big games he steps up in. There’s no other player like Messi this season.”
The player’s latest goals came in Barcelona’s 3-0 win over Manchester United in Tuesday’s Champions League quarter-final second leg, where he scored twice to send the Spanish champions through 4-0 on aggregate.
Also on the score sheet in in that match was Philippe Coutinho with an impressive curled finish past David de Gea, which he followed up with a fingers-in-the-ears celebration.
That was seen as a direct response to his critics, having come under fire during his first full campaign at Camp Nou, and Rivaldo says the best way for his compatriot to win over supporters is to continue to score goals.
“Coutinho’s a player I like a lot and who has to succeed at Barca,” he added. “Coutinho scored a great goal. The [celebration] wasn’t so good. In the moment you score a goal and with the criticism he’s received… it was the heat of the moment.
“If you asked him today, he would be more intelligent. There are things that happen in football and what’s important is that he scores goals like that because that way the fans are happy with him.”