Buenos Aires Times

sports WHO IS THE GREATEST PLAYER EVER?

Macri chooses Messi over Maradona while on trip to Russia

In response to the age-old question, the president tipped the scales in the direction of Barcelona's star forward. Perhaps it was to be expected, given Macri and Maradona's history.

Wednesday 24 January, 2018
President Mauricio Macri and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin leave after a signing ceremony following their meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow yesterday.
President Mauricio Macri and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin leave after a signing ceremony following their meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow yesterday. Foto:ALEXANDER NEMENOV / POOL / AFP

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President Mauricio Macri paused from his diplomatic agenda after a meeting in Russia on Tuesday to talk football. Specifically, which legendary Argentine forward is the better player. 

And unlike many of his countrymen, Macri didn't hesitate in his choice of Messi over Maradona.

"I've taken the position of Messi. Because of his consistency, because of the number of goals he's scored and because football evolves. To be the best right now is more difficult than having been the best in the past," he told Russia Today.

Macri said he entrusted the future of Argentine football in the World Cup to "God and Messi."

The comments came during a Kremlin meeting on bilateral cooperation between Macri and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. 

"We have signed a declaration of cooperation, which means we will work to strengthen relations in various areas: technical, military, cultural, humanitarian, economic and commercial, among others," Putin said after the session.

Invitation

Putin invited Macri to visit Russia again this summer, saying "the Argentine national team is one of the favourites" to win the World Cup, which will be held in Russia this summer.

"We hope to reach the final ... God and Messi will decide if we win the World Cup or not," Macri said. "We have an amazing team but the World Cup is very competitive. It's very difficult to win one. Having reached three finals in a row has been incredible," he added.

Argentina has suffered a string of defeats in finals in recent years, losing the title-deciding clashes of the 2014 World Cup, 2015 Copá América and 2016 Copa América Centenario.

The president promised to return to Russia with his six-year-old daughter Antonia to attend Argentina's first two matches in the World Cup, held in Russia this summer.

"But I hope the third will be the final," Macri added, earning a smile from Putin.

After his trip to Russia, Macri will travel to Davos, Switzerland on Wednesday to attend the 2018 World Economic Forum.

Chequered past

Maradona captained the Argentina team that won the World Cup in Mexico in 1986 on top of his prodigious club success. Messi has yet to win a World Cup with Argentina, but reached the final in 2014 and has won five Ballon d'Or awards, four Champions Leagues and eight Spanish league titles with Barcelona.

Macri and Maradona have a chequered past, beginning when Macri was the president of Boca Juniors and Maradona began playing for the club in the 1990s. 

Maradona has publicly criticised Macri's government too.

"What I don't understand is why Argentines continue voting for him and he keeps sinking us," Maradona told Telesur in a late 2017 interview.

-TIMES/AFP/DPA

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