England’s 1986 Golden Shoe winner Gary Lineker has heaped praises on the “incredible” Argentina and PSG forward Lionel Messi. According to Lineker, Messi is the greatest player of his lifetime. Lineker says that he thinks Argentina will win the final against France on Sunday.
“I think Messi will win the Golden Ball unless Mbappe scores a hat trick or does something extraordinary in the final. In an interview with FIFA+, Lineker stated, “It is in the balance for the Golden Boot – one goal could win it for either Messi or Mbappe.”
The England striker became famous around the world for scoring six goals at Mexico ’86.
He is currently directing the BBC’s television coverage of the FIFA World CupTM in Qatar. The five-goal Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe, as well as the four-goal Julian Alvarez and Olivier Giroud, will compete for the Golden Boot.
Lineker also explains why he thinks Messi is the greatest player of his lifetime and hopes that the Argentina captain will have a “beautiful game” in Sunday’s final against France.
The Adidas Golden Boot was first awarded to the top goalscorer of the competition in 1982 under the name Golden Shoe. In 2010, it was renamed Golden Boot. The awards for runners-up are the adidas Silver Boot and the adidas Bronze Boot, respectively.
Lineker says that Messi and PSG were in great form going into the tournament, and he has had some incredible moments, like the incredible goal against Mexico, the assist against the Netherlands, being named man of the match against Australia, and obviously the remarkable assist for the third goal in the semi-final.
“But it’s not just the assists and goals with Messi, it’s the little things that people perhaps don’t notice as much. When he is locked in by about three or four players and he suddenly finds a way to wriggle out; his vision in the way he sees a pass; the weight of his passing as well as his goalscoring. I think that’s what sets him apart”, he said
“You can only talk about people in your lifetime and I didn’t really see much of Pele as I was very young, but in my lifetime only [Diego] Maradona really can compare for just doing things that other mortals can’t do. You can compare people statistically in terms of goals – obviously [Cristiano] Ronaldo is a great footballer – but what separates Messi from even the greatest of players is that ability to do the things that others can’t do. Maradona is the only other player to do that and he didn’t do it over the period of time that Messi has, so that maybe gives [Messi] the edge”.
“I think with the weight of the world off his shoulders having won the Copa America, he came into this probably a bit freer to be able to play and Argentina probably over the last three or four years have found a way to win and a way that works for Messi. It’s very similar in a way to the 86 team of Maradona – a very tough, uncompromising, hard-working side with a very good centre-forward like they had in [Jorge] Valdano and now have in Alvarez. It has really worked for them. There is just one step to go”. Gary Lineker stated.
The Golden Boot side is interesting because neither he nor Mbappe is a natural goal scorer, whereas Alvarez and Giroud might be. Lineker went on to say that Messi will be the tournament’s best player because of how consistently he performs.
Mbappe has given some fantastic performances and magical moments, but not nearly as many as Messi, especially not in the quarterfinals or semifinals. In contrast to Messi, who has done incredible things throughout, he only had a bit of magic that led to the second goal against Morocco.
Meanwhile, although France’s Giroud did not make a single appearance in a team that won the World Cup four years ago, he nonetheless played a significant role in that team. Four years later, the 36 years old, has scored four goals, and he probably could have scored more than two in the semi-final.
He has been momentous. Even though he did it in the first half against [Romain] Saiss when his hamstring was injured, it’s clear that he won’t run behind defenders anymore.
He has always been a good finisher, good in the box, and knows how to find space and risk getting into that space to score goals. Occasionally, Mbappe and [Antoine] Griezmann, who has been outstanding, have assisted him.
On goals, Giroud has gone past Thierry Henry, Harry Kane and has joined Wayne Rooney [on 53 goals], Messi has gone past Maradona concerning World Cup goals and even [Gabriel] Batistuta.
It’s good that records are constantly being broken. There are a lot of things that help, and it’s good to see great players stay in the game for longer because sports science has clearly improved tremendously.