Gaizka Mendieta has rubbished claims Lionel Messi needs to win international honours to be considered a footballing great.
Lionel Messi does not need to win a World Cup to be classed as one of football’s greatest players, according to Gaizka Mendieta.
The Barcelona superstar is viewed as one of the most iconic players to have graced the game but international honours have so far eluded him.
Messi has secured nine LaLiga titles, lifted the Copa del Rey on six occasions and is a four-time Champions League winner since making his Barca debut in 2004.
However, with Argentina the 30-year-old has a string of runners-up medals from major tournaments – including four years ago at the 2014 World Cup.
Some critics have said Messi cannot be held in the same esteem as legendary names Pele and Diego Maradona until he tastes success with his country, but Mendieta disagrees.
Speaking courtesy of Nissan, official Champions League partner, the Spaniard said: “You don’t need a World Cup title to be the best.
“He [Messi] has shown for many years with his level and pace. We don’t need to see him winning the World Cup to admire him.
“He is among the greatest anyway.”
The World Cup in Russia could end Messi’s long wait for international success, something Mendieta would like to see – providing it is not at Spain’s expense.
“I am supporting Spain, but I have to say I will support Messi because we have a Barcelona link and a personal relationship,” he added.