Lionel Messi Reveals Surprising Toughest Opponent of His Career

The 36-year-old, who currently plays his club football for MLS side Inter Miami, has often been the cause of defenders’ nightmares in years gone by.

Lionel Messi named the toughest opponent of his career, it's not who you'd expect

Messi has spent the vast majority of his career with Barcelona, where he won ten La Liga titles, seven Copa del Rey titles and the UEFA Champions League four times.

He then moved to Paris Saint-Germain before switching to Inter Miami over the summer, where he has helped turn his new club’s fortunes around.

The seven time Ballon d’Or winner only made his debut on July 21, announcing himself with a match-winning free-kick in typical fashion.

He has since gone on to score 11 goals in 11 appearances, helping Inter Miami’s lift their first-ever trophy, the Leagues Cup. While the little magician also guided them to the final of the US Open Cup and dragged them back into contention for the MLS play-offs.

But it was whilst at Barcelona that Messi came up against his toughest ever opponent in the shape of Spanish right-back Pablo Maffeo, who was playing for Girona at the time.

Speaking back in 2020, Messi admitted (quotes via FourFourTwo): “Pablo Maffeo of Girona was the toughest. I’ve never been one who complains, but that [match] was intense!”

Messi was referencing Barcelona’s 3-0 win over the La Liga side back in 2017, when Maffeo, who was on loan at Girona from Manchester City, man-marked him the entire game.

Lionel Messi misses Argentina's 3-0 win in Bolivia | Inquirer Sports

Despite being just 20 years of age, Maffeo refused to let the occasion get the better of him and made sure Messi didn’t get on the scoresheet.

Speaking after the game, the young defender, who was subsequently let go by Manchester City and now plays for Mallorca, explained (quotes via GiveMeSport): “Messi told me: ‘I’ve got you here for the whole day’ and I said: ’You’re the best in the world, I’m not going to leave you.

“He asked me how old I was, if I had been assigned by Manchester City and what it was like there. He said the marking was not pleasant.

“Messi and I were together the whole match. He has asked me a couple of things. He is a good person.”

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