Ronaldinho: Best in the world Messi can play until he is 50!

By Sports Desk December 17, 2022 972

Lionel Messi "can play until he is 50", according to Brazil legend Ronaldinho.

Argentina can lift their third World Cup on Sunday, when they take on reigning champions France at Lusail Stadium in a highly anticipated match that will crown the tournament's winners.

At 35-years-old, Messi has played a vital role for Argentina in Qatar as he seeks a first World Cup crown, scoring five goals to become La Albiceleste's record goalscorer in the competition, surpassing Gabriel Batistuta.

Messi can cap his spectacular career against France, who are looking to make their own history as the first nation to retain the World Cup since Brazil in 1962.

Ronaldinho, who was part of the Selecao team that won the 2002 World Cup and like Messi is a former Barcelona star, is not surprised that the forward is still performing at the highest level at his age.

When asked if he expected to see Messi playing at this high standard in Qatar, Ronaldinho told L'Equipe: "For Messi, this level is normal, isn't it?

"He has been the best in the world for many years already. 

"It's his last World Cup, but I was sure he would come back and do whatever it takes to win it. 

"For me, he can play until he is 50 because he has a lot more qualities than all the others."

Standing between Messi and international football's elite title are France, who beat Morocco 2-0 in the semi-finals to reach a fourth World Cup final, all of which have come since 1998.

Forward Kylian Mbappe has once again impressed with five goals at the tournament, joint-most with Messi, and at 23 he could become the youngest player since Pele to lift the World Cup twice.

Ronaldinho spoke of his admiration for Mbappe, as well as Didier Deschamps, who can become just the second head coach to lead a team to victory at two separate World Cup editions after Italy's Vittorio Pozzo.

"I love Didier Deschamps, he is very good," Ronaldinho added. "He is a lord, who was a very good player and who knows football very well. 

"I like the way France play under him. In Brazil, he has a very good image and we appreciate the way Les Bleus play.

"France are too strong really, even if before the competition they were among the favourites, so it's only a half surprise. I'm happy to see France in the final.

"I love watching him [Mbappe] play. He does everything very well and he is still very young. 

"He has all the qualities, the speed, the dribbling and, in front of goal, he has the composure. 

"These are the type of players that we Brazilians love to see play. He seems like a strong personality too."

Ronaldinho's Brazil were the pre-tournament favourites to lift a sixth World Cup in Qatar, but they crashed out after a penalty shoot-out defeat to Croatia in the quarter-finals.

He hopes the Selecao's current group can learn from their disappointment.

Ronaldinho added: "I think Brazil had a very good team too, but things didn't turn out the way we thought. Brazil are still under pressure because when we think football, we think Brazil. 

"It was a very good group with a lot of talent, though. I hope this generation will gain something [from their Qatar campaign]."

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Last modified on Saturday, 17 December 2022 12:08
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