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Maradona was pure art, Messi is a Speedy Gonzales - Ayala

5 months ago
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Roberto Ayala believes there are significant differences between Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona, who he said was "pure art".

Diego Maradona was "pure art" and Lionel Messi is "a Speedy Gonzales", according to Argentina assistant coach Roberto Ayala.

Ayala played alongside Maradona at the start of his career and in his twilight years lined up with Messi.

The former Napoli, Milan and Valencia centre-back believes there are significant differences between the two players widely regarded as the best to have come out of Argentina.

"I played with both of them, with Diego I was taking my first steps. They are two footballing giants, and when he retires, Messi will be remembered," Ayala told FOX Sports.

"I don't know if it'll be like Diego, it doesn't matter. They are different. Diego was pure art in all his mannerisms, Messi a Speedy Gonzales who carries the ball two centimetres from his foot."

Messi's failure to win a senior international title with Argentina often counts against him when he is compared to Maradona, who spearheaded the country's success at the 1986 World Cup.

Barcelona star Messi has suffered defeat in four finals – three at the Copa America and the 2014 World Cup – but Ayala is confident he can be successful with Argentina.

Ayala has been impressed by the six-time Ballon d'Or winner's humility in the national team set-up.

"I hope that he gives us his footballing level, that he makes us grow as a team. Having a team with him, not of him," said Ayala.

"He wants to be treated like this, like just one more. We told the players, 'He will not be treated differently by us. You all have to step up, do what you do for your clubs, and he will help you. You have to take advantage of that.'"

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