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Lionel Messi vs Diego Maradona, who is the greatest of all time?

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  • Reading time:16 mins read
  • Post last modified:February 3, 2023

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Lionel Messi vs Diego Maradona, It’s always a debatable topic for both fans to decide who is the greatest of all time. In this post, we will decide which of the two Argentine is the best of all time.

It’s almost impossible for any fan to decide who is the best player. So we thought of analyzing and comparing both legends on the basis of stats and figures and judging them on different factors to understand who is the best.

Diego Maradona is the greatest Argentine player. There is no comparison between the Argentine legend(Diego Maradona) and when Lionel Messi came along and changed everything.

Comparing the two legends of different eras is quite difficult for anyone. We have done some extensive work and gathered some useful information.

Let’s check out this ultimate guide to understand which Argentine international should be analyzed as the better player. 

Lionel Messi vs Diego Maradona

Lionel Messi vs Diego Maradona(Trophies and Personal Accolades)

If you go with the numbers, Messi is way ahead of Maradona. Messi has won 10 league titles while the other side Maradona has 3 league titles. He has a total of 24 domestic trophies while Maradona had 8.

In terms of international trophies and impact, Messi is now ahead of Maradona. Messi won the Copa America in 2021 and won the world cup in 2022 and thus leading the chart when it comes to international criterion

while on the other side Maradona also single-handedly helped Argentina to win the world cup in 1986.

It is unfair to compare Maradona with Messi in terms of individual accolades. Maradona was the best player of his generation but he was not qualified for football’s most prestigious award until 1995.

It was only for European players until 1995 after that it was expanded to become open for any player at a European club.

Fifa World Player of the Year came into existence after 1991. So Maradona is not a part of this award until he was 31. While Messi has won a record-breaking seven Ballons d’Or overtaking Ronaldo and 2 Fifa best player awards in his career.

Furthermore, Messi has won the La Liga Best Player award eight times. However, the Serie A best player award was not originated until 1997.

The similarity between the two players are they both have won Fifa World Cup Golden Ball. The biggest accomplishment of Maradona was winning Fifa Player of the Century in 2000.

Lionel Messi vs Diego Maradona(Goalscoring)

lionel messi vs diego maradona

In the goal-scoring department, Leo again is ahead of Maradona. We will not see any better goalscorer than Messi again. Messi has been the most consistent player in the history of football. He has scored 638 goals in 740 appearances for Barcelona.

There is no doubt about Maradona’s goal-scoring ability. He is known for his dribbling skills. He scored 259 goals at the club level.

Messi’s Overall goals for the club and the country are way ahead of Maradona’s. He has scored more than 700 goals for club and country with Maradona’s 300.

Messi has won six European Golden Shoes. Leo is the highest goalscorer for his club and country. He also broke the record of Gerd Muller for the most goals scored in a calendar year (91).

Lionel Messi vs Diego Maradona(Tenure)

lionel messi vs diego maradona

Both Maradona and Messi are above the rest in the early stage of their career. Maradona was more dominant than Messi at a younger age.

He got the national call-up at the teenage of 16 and till 20 he amazed the world with his talent scoring 100 goals at the senior level.

Messi started playing for Barcelona at 17 and got the Argentinian cap at 18. He started showing what he is capable of when he scored the hat trick against the mighty Real Madrid at an age of 19.

After reaching 30 both players become the legend of the game. Messi has broken almost all records and won the seventh Ballon d’Or.

While Maradona’s footballing career started to downfall after 30. He suffered an injury in his late career which almost finished his career in Argentina.

Lionel Messi vs Diego Maradona(Flexibility)

lionel messi vs diego maradona

Messi has been the legend of the game while playing for a single club Barcelona. There is no other player who is more dominant than Messi for a single club in the history of the game. He has done it for more than 10 years for Barcelona.

While Messi has settled in Barcelona and has no desire to leave his club. Maradona was a more flexible player and was consistent for the different clubs winning multiple trophies with three different teams.


I think when we talk about the dribbles we have to talk about both Argentine legends. They are the top 2 best dribbles of all time.

Dribbling is the most difficult skill in football and both Messi and Maradona have done it with ease. Both are known for their natural dribbling skills. Both players can torture any defense with their insane dribbling skills.

Maradona was completely unstoppable against the England team in the world cup in 1986. His solo goal against England was said to be one of the best goals of all time. He had torn the midfield and the defense of England with his close control.

All-round capability

Talking about consistency, goalscoring, longevity, and all-around capability Messi had done far better as compared to Maradona.

If we see the fitness, skills, and professionalism of this generation’s of players as compared to the 1980s and 90s there is a major gap.

So I think it is quite difficult for any player to score goals against the top defenders of this generation and Messi has done it for so long. In this aspect, Messi has an edge over Maradona. 

International Criterion

One of its biggest Achievements of Maradona is winning the World Cup for Argentina. Messi has been criticized a lot in the past for not winning any international trophy with the national team.

However, he has done it by winning Copa America in 2021 and the world cup in 2022.

He has replied to all of his critics by winning an international trophy with the national team. He single-handedly led the team to victory by winning Copa America and World cup and now Messi is all set for the upcoming 2024 Copa America

Messi is a star player in Argentina, and his performance in the World cup 2022 showed that there is no one who can replace him when it comes to leading the team and scoring the goal on the biggest stage.

Earlier Messi also reached the World cup final in 2014 and gave some memorable performances for his team.

Maradona on the other side is an Argentina star. He was the dominant force in the 1986 world cup scoring five goals and recording five assists as he inspired Argentina to a world cup win in 1986.

Maradona’s performance was so remarkable in the world cup many, believe it was the finest individual performance of any player in the history of the world cup.

His breathtaking doubles against England and Belgium in the knockout stage and a late assist for Jorge Burruchaga in the final show the mental strength of a player in big games. He also played an integral part in taking Argentina to the world cup final in 1990.

Big Games

While Messi is not able to show the performance for Argentina when it really matters, his records and scoring in the big games for Barcelona can’t be compared to anyone.

He is one of the players who has always been there for Barcelona when the stage is big. He has scored 2 Champions League final goals which is the most for any player in history including some big names like Raul Gonzalez and Daniele Massaro.

Messi is the player with the most assists(14) in the knockout stages of the Champions League. He is also the top scorer in El Clasico with remarkable 26 Clasico goals.

On the other side, Maradona’s big game display can’t be ignored. He is the most influential player in his club.

He always scored for the team at the club level when it needed the most. His memorable performance against Juventus, Bayern Munich, and Stuttgart will not be forgotten any time soon.

He led the team to UEFA Cup glory in 1989 which is the most difficult competition than the Champions League at that time. He helped Napoli to win another league title in 1990.


Maradona with Pele is one of those players who inspired the generation to play the beautiful game. His influence at the club and national level are still incomparable.

However, Messi has replied to his haters by leading the team and guiding Argentina to Copa America and the world cup.

Eric Cantona said earlier “Some say Pele was the greatest player of all time, but not me. Maradona will always be the greatest.

He won World Cup in 1986, narrowly lost in the final in 1990, and then in 1994 maybe would have won it again had he not been banned.

The crucial difference with Pele is that Maradona wasn’t surrounded by great players; he had to carry the team himself.

If you took Maradona out of Argentina they would not win the World Cup, but I think Brazil without Pele would still have won.” 

Sir Bobby Robson stated “A genius, a real artist, one of the greatest players in the world. He could win a match on his own. On his own.” 

Club accomplishments

Messi has won four Champions Leagues and broken multiple records in Barcelona. His club accomplishment is just insane compared to none. While Maradona was a part of two seasons scoring 2 goals in 6 appearances.

But it is unfair to compare Maradona with Messi, as only the winners of their domestic leagues fitted for European Cup qualification.

Maradona sparks Napoli to success in the Uefa Cup, which is his biggest achievement at the club level due to the presence of each league’s top teams in the competition.

Maradona has won 1 world cup, 1 UEFA cup, 1 Italian Cup, 1 Italian super cup, and a 2-time Italian Champion. The trophy haul is something you have to give credit to the Argentine legend.

Though Messi’s trophy list is just out of this world at the club level. During his whole career in Barcelona, he has won ten La Liga titles, six Copa del Rey, 8 Spanish super cups and 3 club world Cups, 3 UEFA super cups, and four Champions Leagues.

Overall Impact

I think both players have a massive impact on their clubs and country. Both are the legends of the game. It’s unfair to come up with a resolution. They both have inspired the generation of players and each had a huge impact on world football.

Maradona has been a great role model in Argentina. While Messi on the other side also single-handedly won the world cup for Argentina.

If we talk about longevity and consistency for a longer period of time it would be Messi who has maintained his fitness and consistently performed during his career. Although Maradona is ahead of Messi in terms of Mentality.

So comparing the two on different parameters I think the best players of different eras can’t be compared to each other. The best players are always been the best in any era they play.

Let’s just enjoy the game of both legends!

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Kamran Khan

A geek, who just loves to update sports, gaming, and tech updates from around the world to the other geeks out there. A passionate sports lover, a tech geek from the mind, and a gamer from the heart.

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