Lionel Messi can have every accolade in the world but only a championship win in the 2018 World Cup Russia with Argentina will “seal his legacy”, according to former US men’s national football team manager Jurgen Klinsmann.
The Argentine star has lifted almost every club trophy Barcelona set their sight on, but he has never won a major trophy with his country.
“A player like Messi needs to seal his legacy by winning the World Cup,” said Klinsmann to Goal. “I want him to win it because he deserves it.”
Messi and Argentina have suffered painful losses in the finals of three major tournaments. Germany outlasted Albiceleste 1-0 in extra time in the 2014 World Cup final in Brazil, and Chile defeated Argentina in the finals of the Copa America in 2015 and 2016, both in the penalties.
Currently, Argentina are fifth in the CONMEBOL qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup Russia, but only the top four teams can make it to the final tournament. The Sky Blue are a point behind fourth-place Chile and third-place Uruguay, and they are just two points below second-place Colombia with four fixtures remaining in the qualifiers. Only top team Brazil have already ensured their qualification with 33 points in 14 matches.
A World Cup win, according to Klinsmann, will bring Messi the same level of stardom that Diego Maradona received when he won the 1986 World Cup.
“I admire Messi, I’ve always admired him,” added Klinsmann. “But I also admire Maradona, especially because I played against him several times, in Inter against Napoli, and in Argentina versus Germany. He is an artist because he saw what anyone else couldn’t see.”
“He knew what he was doing and what he was going to do, even before he got the ball. He was always an artist in the field.
“Messi is different, he is a perfectionist. He’s a great character because he’s humble. He has one main quality: he’s a great scorer.”