Lionel Messi has received further backing of his status as the world’s greatest player by one of the up and coming stars bidding to one day replace him as the best in the game, Pedri.
The Spain midfielder started his career alongside Messi in the famous blue and red of Barcelona three years ago.
And the heir to Messi’s throne at the Camp Nou believes his ex-colleague’s December World Cup win with the South Americans justified his Best FIFA award earlier this week, as well as ending the GOAT debate with former Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.
Pedri, an ambassador for TCL Mobile, said: “I have always been clear on this. Since I saw Leo as a little boy he was the best. And when I had the opportunity to play with him he confirmed it to me.
“We already saw in the World Cup what he is capable of doing and what he has been doing for many years. I messaged him to congratulate him, but I think his phone was blowing up!”
Messi turns 36 this summer and Pedri, 20 is at the forefront of players tipped to succeed him as the world’s best in the not-too-distant future.
“Hopefully I can win it one day,” he smiled. “It is very complicated as there is a lot of competition with very good people like [Erling] Haaland and [Kylian] Mbappe, but obviously we work for challenges like this.”
Other rivals to the crown include England’s Jude Bellingham and Jamal Musiala in Germany, but Pedri welcomes the competition.
He added: “They are two amazing players, real stars. The three of us are at a great level, but there are many more top-quality players.
“We are seeing Gavi [here at Barca], who is crazily good, Gabri Veiga [at Celta Vigo], who is having a great time at the moment too. They are players who have a lot of talent and people will be talking a lot about them.”
Pedri’s importance to Barcelona in the wake of Messi’s switch to Paris St Germain cannot be under-estimated.
Since the Spain star sustained a hamstring injury in the home leg of Barca’s Europa League tie against Manchester United, they won just one of their four following matches.
PEDRI was speaking as a global brand ambassador for TCL Mobile. #InspireGreatness @TCL_Global. More details here: http://tcl.com/global/en/mobile