Lionel Messi picks out his toughest ever opponent – and it’s not who you might think


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The Barcelona forward has locked horns with some of the world’s best defenders since his debut in 2004.

Messi has enjoyed many memorable duels with Real Madrid centre-back Sergio Ramos, but he has picked a more surprising name as the toughest opponent he has come across.

“Man-marking doesn’t bother me – you know that there will be tough matches and it can be strange to always have someone around you,” the Barcelona captain told DAZN.

“In truth it hasn’t happened to me that often. It doesn’t bother me, but it is strange.

“Pablo Maffeo of Girona [was the toughest man-marker. That was intense!

“I’ve never been one who complains. I think physical contact and kicks are part of the game.

“I get more annoyed when I play bad and I get a little more angry. But if I’m not [playing bad], it’s not a problem, it’s part of the game and I don’t take it personally.”

Messi also revealed that being La Liga’s all-time top scorer is the individual record he cherishes most.

The Barcelona captain has found the net 432 times in Spain’s top flight, which puts him 121 clear of second-placed Cristiano Ronaldo.

“I think the La Liga goal record is very important and very significant,” Messi added.

“There have been spectacular players in this league, the best in the world, and being the all-time top scorer in this league, given the level of the Spanish league, is special.

“I think it is one of the best records I have created. I have been playing in La Liga for many years.

“I don’t know if other forwards have stuck it out as long as me, but this has helped me a lot to score many goals – and for me it is an honour to be in the history books in La Liga.”

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