Pope Francis Comments on Lionel Messi God Comparisons

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The Barcelona forward has been with the Catalan giants since he joined as a youngster in 2001, and fans have been vocal in their support of the star ever since.

He was outright asked whether or not calling the footie legend "God" was sacrilege.

Pope Francis, born, Jorge Mario Bergoglio is an Argentine and first Pope from outside Europe since the Gregory III who reigned in the 8th century.

"In theory, it is sacrilege", he replied.

"Messi is the same player with Barcelona and with Argentina, and he would be the same if he played with Australia", Valverde said.

Perhaps the Pope will change his mind on Messi's status if he helps Argentina win the Copa America in Brazil this summer.

He added: "I don't [laughing]". Adoring is only for God, they are expressions people use.

The pope replied: 'Of course, he brings happiness, but he isn't God'.

Football fans, pundits and players have for a longtime been embroiled in the debate on who is the best footballer between Ronaldo and Messi, with opinion often divided on who is better.

Messi suffered an injury during the global break with Argentina, which forced him to miss Argentina's second friendly against Morocco. "He's great to watch - but he's not God". "I'd love to say it's something we plan but it's not like that, he did not pay attention to me and scored a goal".

"When I chose to go back, a lot of people were against me".

Barcelona know a 26th La Liga title is within reach if they continue their winning ways regardless of what the chasing pack do, and Valverde said he expects stiff competition in all his team's remaining matches.

Whether he gets awarded with the goal or not, the style and cheek of Messi's chipped free-kick against Espanyol was a wonderous sight to behold.