The Barcelona captain may be approaching his mid-30s, but the 19-year-old believes the Argentine is still the greatest player on the planet
Real Sociedad winger Ander Barrenetxea says it is ‘a joke’ and ‘absurd’ to say Lionel Messi is ‘finished’ at the highest level as the youngster prepares to face Barcelona in Wednesday night’s Supercopa de Espana.
At 33, the Rosario-born forward has reached an age at which most outside players would consider retiring, but the six-time Ballon d’Or winner has declared his desire to continue playing – with or without Barcelona.
Examples of aging duo Cristiano Ronaldo at Juventus and Zlatan Ibrahimovic at AC Milan have proven that stars can continue to contribute at the highest level into their 30s if handled properly, and Barrenetxea believes Messi should always be considered the best of all time.
“To be able to play a Supercopa, having always seen it on TV, is a blessing for me,” said the 19-year-old. Marca before Wednesday’s game.
“We have earned it with our work and we will appreciate it and participate in it. We will go out to win as always, knowing that they are a great team.
“I think it’s a joke that they say Messi is over, it’s nonsense. He is the best player of all time and he can decide a game at any time. Hopefully it won’t be Wednesday. Let’s play a great game and get to the final. “
Barrenetxea can be counted among a host of young emerging Spanish talents who have caught the eye, with Barca’s Pedri also part of the crop of potential future stars who are making names for themselves at the top of the game.
“I know him from the national team,” Barrenetxea said. “Pedri is an incredible player, he turns as he wants. If he’s at Barcelona and he’s a regular at Messi, that’s something he deserves. They didn’t give him anything. I am very happy for him because he is very humble.
“I also saw Bryan Gil doing what he does at Eibar since he was 16, when we were with the under 16s. I didn’t see a full-back who stopped him the whole game. There are very few with its quality.
“I would also add [Yeremi] Pino and [Alex] Baena from Villarreal, Borja Sainz … The truth is that several members of my generation got together [and are playing first-team football]. “