Messi still the best despite international failures: Ronaldinho

Sun Jul 17, 2016 10:25am EDT
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By Shravanth Vijayakumar

CHENNAI,  (Reuters) - Lionel Messi is still the best player in the world despite never winning a major international trophy for Argentina, former Barcelona team mate and Brazil great Ronaldinho said on Sunday.

The 29-year-old Messi, who retired from internationals last month after Argentina lost to Chile in the Copa America final, is his country’s top scorer with 55 goals.

The five times World Player of the Year has played in three Copa America finals and the 2014 World Cup final, but lost them all.

Cristiano Ronaldo, his frequent rival for FIFA's prestigious Ballon d’Or, recently won Euro 2016 with Portugal, to reignite the debate about which of the two is the world's best player.

“For me, Messi leaving international soccer does not change anything," Ronaldinho told reporters on Sunday.

"He is still the best soccer player in the world. The respect I have for him doesn’t change at all...

"And if he really has decided to leave international soccer then the sport will miss his presence, and so will the fans," added Ronaldinho, who plays in India’s Premier Futsal league.

Ronaldinho, who played at Barcelona for five years from 2003, said he had nurtured Messi when the pair played together at the Nou Camp.   Continued...

Argentina midfielder Lionel Messi (10) carries the ball during the second half of Argentina's 4-1 win over Venezuela in quarter-final play in the 2016 Copa America Centenario soccer tournament at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports