A few days before, former Barcelona forward Lionel Messi stunned one and all after branding his national teammate Cristian Romero the ‘best defender in the world’.
Leading up to the story, a report from Mundo Deportivo claims that back in 2021 when Messi was still a part of the Barcelona roster, completely unaware of what was going to pan out, the former captain insisted Joan Laporta sign Romero, who at that time was on loan at Atalanta from Juventus.
It’s been two years since the incident and Messi continues to admire his national compatriot so much so that Romero, according to him, is the best defender in the world.
Speaking after Argentina’s recent 1-0 win over Ecuador, the veteran forward said: “For me, he is the best defender in the world right now. Amazing performance tonight, man of the match.”
“Having him behind me is the best thing that can happen to me. He always forces me to go forward, because he always wants to play one on one with his opponent. “I have become accustomed to not looking back and that is very good for an attacking player.”
So why did Barcelona overlook Messi’s advice?
Messi’s remarks on Romero explain not only his profound respect for his fellow countryman and close friend but also underscore the invaluable assurance he derives from sharing the field with the centre-back.
However, at the time of his suggestion, Barcelona found themselves in dire need of forwards, prioritizing attacking firepower over bolstering their defence. Astonishingly, Laporta remained impervious to this urgent plea.
Remarkably, it was Atalanta who seized the opportunity, securing the covaeted player for a mere €16 million and they orchestrated a deal that would eclipse all expectations, trading the player to Tottenham for a staggering €50 million.