Lionel Messi, who possesses unnatural footballing abilities, has served as an inspiration to multiple generations of aspiring young players. The Argentine’s diverse range of talents, combined with his longevity, has drawn fans from all over the world. Lionel Messi, who made his professional debut in 2004, continues to dazzle audiences 17 years later, with no signs of slowing down.
Famous people who look up to Lionel Messi
Aside from the general public, many well-known celebrities have weighed in on La Pulga’s undeniable talent. Lionel Messi has received high praise for his footballing genius and humility from Paul Pogba, Isco, and his best friend Neymar.
Despite annihilating his idol’s team 8-2 in 2020, Alphonso Davies admitted to being a huge Lionel Messi fan. Frenkie de Jong and Christian Pulisic, two youth icons from their respective countries, have also surrendered to Messi’s supremacy, hailing him as their childhood hero.
Given the diversity of Lionel Messi’s fanbase, it is only natural that the majority of them are from his home country of Argentina. A number of high-profile professionals have admitted to growing up idolizing the six-time Ballon d’Or winner. With that in mind, let’s take a look at five Argentina players who are well-known for their admiration for Lionel Messi:
#5 Ezequiel Garay
Garay retired from football in 2020.
Ezequiel Garay has faced Lionel Messi in La Liga while playing for Real Madrid and Valencia, and he knows a thing or two about defending the Argentine talisman. Garay, who played 31 games alongside Lionel Messi for Argentina, has nothing but praise for his compatriot.
In 2011, the now-retired Argentina defender unequivocally stated his feelings toward Messi, saying:
“When people ask me who the best player ever is, I say Leo. From the first time I saw him with Argentina Under-15s to this day, he never ceases to amaze me. He knows no bounds.”
Ezequiel Garay (Valencia): “In Messi, Barcelona has the best player in the world.” He can settle games on his own. We’ll have to be cautious.”
Garay spent his prime years at Benfica and Zenit Saint Petersburg before returning to the Spanish top flight with Valencia in 2016. After four seasons with the Bats, the 32-time Argentina international decided to hang up his boots in 2020.
#4 Emiliano Martinez
Emi Martinez was awarded the Copa America Golden Glove in 2021.
Emiliano Martinez has been a fan favorite since Arsenal’s 2020 FA Cup win. After his exploits, he was transferred to Aston Villa and given his first international call-up.
Martinez was instrumental in Argentina’s fabled 2021 Copa America victory, miraculously saving three decisive spot-kicks in the semi-final penalty shootout against Colombia. A known Lionel Messi fan, he expressed his admiration for La Pulga after winning the competition’s Golden Glove, stating:
“You say ‘he got the players excited,’ and I’m a goalkeeper. I wish I had played every match in a league with him. I’d be a much better goalkeeper.”
With the 2022 World Cup likely to be Lionel Messi’s final shot at World Cup glory, Martinez hopes to bring the trophy home for his idol.
#3 Angel Di Maria
Di Maria has saved Argentina numerous times. Angel Di Maria famously scored in the finals of the 2008 Olympics and the 2021 Copa America, two of Lionel Messi’s most important trophies. Di Maria, a Real Madrid veteran, has openly expressed his admiration for Lionel Messi, praising his compatriot numerous times.
When asked about Lionel Messi, the 116-time Argentina international stated:
“I’ve always wanted to play with Messi in a club team.” Every time we visit the Argentine national team, it appears to be very brief. I’ve always wanted to play with him and have him by my side every day.”
Di Maria, who has played alongside the six-time Ballon d’Or winner at the international level, will now be seen partnering with his Argentina teammates at the club level as well. Messi controversially joined PSG this summer after his 21-year association with Barcelona was terminated.
#2 Paulo Dybala
Dybala is working hard to return to the national team. Paulo Dybala, another Argentina stalwart who grew up idolizing Lionel Messi, has always been compared to his role model due to their similar playing styles.
The Juventus forward has been in and out of the Argentina squad recently, failing to cement his place in the national setup.
As a result, Dybala has only played 12 times with Lionel Messi. Nonetheless, the baby-faced forward was all praise for his childhood idol. Dybala made a recording.
“Lionel Messi is an incredible player.” He’s the one I look up to and try to learn from. He’s been my hero since I was a child. I’ve always admired him and continue to admire what he’s doing. It’s amazing to watch him play. Fortunately, I see him train daily.”
Dybala regained his starting spot after Cristiano Ronaldo’s untimely departure from Turin. However, an untimely injury forced the 30-time Argentina international to miss yet another game. Dybala, 27, has time to restore his once-promising career and accompany Lionel Messi.
#1 Lautaro Martinez
Martinez is destined for stardom. Lautaro Martinez is Argentina’s latest attacking superstar and one of the hottest properties in football right now. With his current contract set to expire in 2023, the Inter forward is on the radar of every top club.
Martinez has long been a fan of Lionel Messi, publicly referring to him as his idol. Goal quoted the 24-year-old superstar as saying,
“The fact that he is Argentinian is a source of pride for us, and we always try to learn from him.” For me, he’s on another level – he understands the game differently and is always one step ahead of everyone else.”
Martinez, like his Argentina teammate, made his debut on the Ballon d’Or shortlist this year. The forward has been heavily linked with a move to Barcelona in the past and could be the ideal heir to Lionel Messi’s throne if anything happens.