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Last Updated: Friday, 24 February 2006, 07:50 GMT
Maradona hails Messi as successor
Barcelona's Lionel Messi
Messi is tipped as the next Argentina legend
Argentina legend Diego Maradona has hailed Barcelona's Lionel Messi as his successor after the 18-year-old's Champions League display at Chelsea.

He said: "I have seen the player who will inherit my place in Argentinian football and his name is Messi.

"Messi is beautiful to watch - my kind of player in our blue and white jersey.

"He's a leader and is offering classes in beautiful football. He has something different to any other player in the world," added Maradona.

And the former World Cup-winning captain said: "Messi is the best player in the world, along with Ronaldinho. I see him as very similar to me."

Former Barcelona player and coach Johan Cruyff said Messi "is the reason why Barcelona are a better team this season. The boy can conquer the whole stage".

Last June Messi was the inspiration behind Argentina's under-20 World Cup win. He was named player of the tournament in Holland and was also the leading goalscorer.

He has been capped by the full Argentina side, but was sent off just two minutes into his debut against Hungary in August.

Argentina boss Jose Pekerman is under mounting pressure to include Messi in his World Cup squad.

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