Paris Saint-Germain defender Marquinhos has hailed Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi as “the best player in the world” after coming up against him in Brazil’s 3-0 2018 World Cup qualifying win against Argentina on Friday.
Goals from Philippe Coutinho, Neymar and Paulinho silenced Messi and Marquinhos’ PSG teammate Angel Di Maria in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, thanks largely to a concentrated operation performed by the hosts’ defence.
Speaking with L’Equipe, Marquinhos said it took “a collective effort” at the back for Brazil to “master” Messi’s threat and that “double and even triple pressure” was needed to stop the 29-year-old.
“For me, [Messi] is the best player in the world,” the PSG man added. “He is an extraordinary dribbler of the ball and he is so fast too. A single player is not enough to stop him.”
Marquinhos, 22, has established himself as an important member of Tite’s preferred Brazil starting XI and is now up against PSG teammate and captain Thiago Silva to keep his place.
The former Roma man has “plenty of admiration” for his “friend” but emphasised the importance of competition for places in the Brazil setup.
“Thiago Silva? He has worked hard to return, as it was his objective to get back to the international setup,” Marquinhos said. “Does it put Miranda under pressure? This is normal. Competition is strong here and it does everyone good. Every single player is working hard to be on the pitch.”
Silva is expected to sign a contract extension with PSG in the coming weeks and L’Equipe report Marquinhos will be one of the first players who will follow the skipper’s lead at Parc des Princes, along with in-form striker Edinson Cavani.