New York: Lionel Messi is the "best footballer of all time" and the Argentina superstar should continue playing for his national team, his former club teammate David Villa has said.
After announcing his retirement from international football after Argentina`s Copa America loss to Chile earlier this year, Messi on Friday said he would like to make a comeback for the national side.
Messi is often compared to past greats Pele and Diego Maradona amid the five-time World Footballer of the Year ongoing battle with Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo for modern day supremacy.
FC Barcelona`s all-time leading goal scorer has collected 28 trophies during his career at the Spanish club, while his overall title count stands at 30 - thanks to an Olympic gold and a successful World Youth Championship in 2005, one more than Brazilian legend Pele`s career trophy count.
Villa, now captain of American football outfit New York City, played alongside Messi for three years at Barcelona
They together won two La Liga titles and a Champions League crown among others. He was asked to rank the 29-year-old alongside the greats.
"Messi is the best, for me. I hope that he keeps playing because the World Cup in 2018 in Russia will not be the same without Messi," Villa was quoted as saying by portal Omnisport on Friday.
The 113-cap veteran and Argentina captain will now be at the disposal of new coach Edgardo Bauza for the forthcoming South American 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Uruguay and Venezuela.