Messi was 'clearly' ahead of Ronaldo even before World Cup triumph, says Aguero

Argentina defeated France in the 2022 World Cup final

Argentina defeated France in the 2022 World Cup final


  • Argentina defeated France in the 2022 World Cup final
  • It was Argentina’s third WC triumph
  • Lionel Messi now holds the record for most WC matches played (26)

Former Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero has said Lionel Messi was "clearly" ahead of his long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo even before winning the FIFA World Cup.

Playing in his fifth World Cup, Messi finally lifted the coveted trophy as Argentina defeated France in the final on penalties 4-2 in Qatar. It was Argentina's third World Cup title, their first since the 1986 edition.

Aguero, who was forced to retire last year due to a heart condition, attended every match of Argentina in the recently-concluded World Cup 2022 and even lifted Argentina's winning captain Messi on his shoulders after the side won the final on Sunday (Dec. 18). On the contrary, Ronaldo had a disappointing campaign as Portugal suffered a shocking loss against Morocco in the quarter-final.

Meanwhile, Aguero also insisted that Kylian Mbappe, who became just the second player to record a World Cup final hat-trick, has still not reached the same level as Messi.

"I don't think there is any doubt. For me, there were no doubts before the World Cup and much less now. Cristiano has had an extraordinary career and is a very complete athlete. But Leo clearly has been and is the best," Aguero told

Mbappe and Messi are teammates at Paris Saint-Germain (PSG). The French striker won the Golden Boot at the 2022 World Cup for finishing as the tournament's leading scorer with eight goals.

"What to say about Kylian? He has scored three goals in a World Cup Final and has converted the penalty in the decisive instance. And he has had a great World Cup too. But today Leo has the sceptre. Mbappe's only 23 years old and is already the world champion and runner up. Surely he will go for more because he is a very talented and very competitive player," added Aguero.

At the Qatar World Cup, Messi had ideal support from Argentina's next generation of players as Enzo Fernandez, Julian Alvarez, Lisandro Martínez and Alexis Mac Allister stepped up their game when it was required, and Aguero believes that the future is bright.

"Players like Leo appear from time to time. Hopefully, in a few years, another one will come out with those conditions. How Leo appeared after Maradona," the former Man City star added further.

While Alvarez netted a brace in Argentina's semi-final victory over Croatia, 21-year-old Fernandez, who played for Benfica, won the Young Player of the Tournament award.

"In the meantime, we have many young players who are taking over and who have the winning mentality, character and ability to continue competing at the highest level. Look at what happened during the tournament. Players like Enzo Fernández, Julián Álvarez, Lisandro Martínez and Mac Allister, just to give a few examples, who initially weren't starters ended up being so and with remarkable performances. There is a present and there is a future for Argentina," said Aguero.

The Argentine side had a memorable parade in Buenos Aires on Tuesday, celebrating their World Cup victory with their countrymen.

The World Cup final at Lusail Stadium marked Messi's 26th appearance in the tournament, making him the first men's player ever to do so. The PSG star finished the 2022 World Cup with seven goals and three assists as he also became the first-ever player to score in the group stage, Round of 16, quarter-final, semi-final, and final of the same tournament.

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