Lionel Messi is on same level as Diego Maradona, gushes Mauricio Pochettino

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REIMS, FRANCE - AUGUST 29: Lionel Messi of PSG is replacing Neymar Jr, left with coach of PSG Mauricio Pochettino during the Ligue 1 Uber Eats match between Stade Reims and Paris Saint Germain (PSG) at Stade Auguste Delaune on August 29, 2021 in Reims, France. (Photo by John Berry/Getty Images)

Paris Saint-Germain manager Mauricio Pochettino has praised Lionel Messi and believes that the Argentine is at the same level as Diego Maradona despite his struggles in the Ligue 1. The 34-year-old has endured a tough season in Paris, netting just four goals in 23 appearances in the French top tier.

With Lionel Messi forced out to leave Barcelona last summer, it saw a lot of hype follow the Argentine to Paris Saint-Germain when he signed for the club on a free-transfer. However, despite enjoying a fruitful campaign in the Champions League with five goals, Messi has struggled for form and fitness in the Ligue 1. It has seen the 34-year-old net just 4 league goals with 13 assists in 23 appearances which has seen his critics use that as a stick against the forward.

Not only that, it has seen both Messi and Neymar booed by a certain section of the PSG fanbase with them unhappy at what the duo have produced. Yet despite that, Mauricio Pochettino has praised Messi and believes that the Argentine is on the same plane as the late great Diego Maradona. The PSG boss also added that circumstances have meant that Messi isn’t as comfortable as he was at Barcelona but he has no doubts about the 34-year-old’s quality.

“We’re not talking about an ordinary player, Messi is on the same level as Diego Maradona. It is clear that his move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain was a big change, in which an adaptation process was necessary,” Pochettino has told RMC Sport.

“Certain circumstances didn’t allow him to feel as comfortable as he did at Barcelona where he’d spent 20 years. Where he had been the standard-bearer of the club. To judge Messi in this way is unfair. I have no doubts about his quality… Next season will be a completely different season for him.

“This has been a year of learning, and not only at the professional level in coming to Paris, in a new league and with new team-mates, but also at the level of family. This must be taken into account. It’s a major upheaval that can affect a player.”