Thursday 05 January 2017, 13:23

Aguero: Messi makes it look so easy

Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero have much in common. Argentinian, talented and prolific goalscorers, they have built up a perfect understanding, despite one being left-footed and the other right. Together they have won a FIFA U-20 World Cup title and Olympic gold and have appeared in various finals with the senior national team. Now the firmest of friends, there was a time when Aguero did not even know who Messi was, as he admitted to

“We were having lunch with the national U-20 team,” explained a smiling Aguero. “Lionel was sitting next to me. All my team-mates were talking about the boots he’d brought from the USA, and I just couldn’t work out how he’d got hold of them. Who was this kid?”

Already a first division player with Independiente, the 17-year-old Kun had evidently not been keeping a close eye on the latest developments in Spanish football, as he acknowledged:  “I asked him his name and he said: ‘Lionel, Lionel Messi,’ but I had no idea who he was. I was just trying to work out how he’d managed to get those boots. Then one of my team-mates said to me: ‘You don’t know who he is? It’s Messi, the kid from Barcelona’. That’s when I realised who he was. I tell you one thing, though: he knew who I was!” As Aguero went on to explain, the story still brings a smile to the face of the Barcelona star, with whom he has since built up the firmest of friendships and a fierce rivalry when it comes to video games.

“You only have to say hello to Leo to realise what a good kid he is,” said the Manchester City striker. “A lot of people don’t know that, because he doesn’t like to show it on TV or in public. He’s just an ordinary guy, though. He’s a good mixer and he cracks jokes just like any Argentinian. He gets on well with everyone and he’s as normal as they come.”

“He deserves it” One place where Messi is not normal is on the pitch, as Aguero confirmed. “He’s ahead of the rest, including the other nominees,” he said in reference to Cristiano Ronaldo and Antoine Griezmann, his rivals for The Best FIFA Men’s Player of 2016 award. “And I’m not just saying that because he’s my friend. I train with him and I see it with my own eyes. He does things I don’t see anyone else doing. He’s the best there is.”

Listing the skills that make Messi the player he is, Aguero pointed to his ability to accelerate with the ball at his feet and the ease with which he takes chances when running at full speed. “He makes it look so easy. It’s incredible,” said El Kun.

The winner will be revealed on 9 January in Zurich, following the vote by football writers, fans and the coaches and captains of the national teams affiliated to FIFA. Though the sense of expectation will continue to rise ahead of the announcement, Aguero is in no doubt: “Messi is the best in the world.”

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