Gary Lineker has stuck to his guns and again backed Lionel Messi to win the Ballon d’Or.
The former Barcelona striker has never been shy in voicing his admiration of Messi, who he has previously hailed as the greatest player of all time.
Now at PSG, the Argentine has endured an emotional year on and off the pitch.
The Catalans were unable to extend the 34-year-old’s contract due to financial issues and Messi gave an emotional press conference before departing.
Prior to that he had led Argentina to the Copa America title he and the country so craved.
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Not since 1993 had Argentina won the continental trophy but they saw off Brazil in the final.
It was Messi’s first international honour and that achievement has him down as the favourite to win the Ballon d’Or for a seventh time.
Lineker was quizzed on who he thought would win the individual award and told Marca : “It will be difficult to overcome Messi. He had a great first part of the season and then he won the Copa América with Argentina.”
Messi won the prize in 2019, his sixth success, which took him clear of rival Cristiano Ronaldo
The Portuguese star has five but victory for the PSG new boy would take him further clear.
Lineker played in an era where Diego Maradona was the game’s standout name and watched on as he scored his two famous goals against the Three Lions at the 1986 World Cup.
Messi was touted early in his career as Maradona’s heir apparent and Lineker believes the pair are in a league of their own.
He said: “They are two Argentines, it is true, but the reason [I love them] is easy: I love football and what they gave to the game, nobody has given it to them.
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“Without comparing them, both did things that the rest of us mortals cannot even imagine. They gave us happiness. There were other greats, like the two Ronaldos, for example, but I consider them more as tremendous scorers.
“Diego and Leo did, and do, in each game, two or three things that neither I nor almost anyone did in an entire career. They play another sport.”
He added: “I also love Ronaldo. I respect him very much, he is a giant too, but my honest football opinion is that there is no comparison as to who is the best. Because of the things that Leo does.”