Lionel Messi taking the record as Argentina’s top scorer in World Cup football has inspired no hard feelings from previous holder Gabriel Batistuta.
The star forward netted his 11th goal across five tournaments with a penalty in the 3-0 semi-final win over Croatia.
It moved Messi to five strikes at Qatar 2022, level with Paris Saint-Germain team-mate and France attacker Kylian Mbappe ahead of their final showdown on Sunday.
Batistuta, who scored 10 goals in three editions between USA 1994 and Korea/Japan 2002, insists he was happy to see his record broken by the 35-year-old.
“[Messi breaking the record] didn’t hurt me at all because I enjoyed it while I had it,” he told Argentine newspaper Clarin. “Leo deserves this. If there’s one person who has to be up there, it’s him.
“Messi is not an alien, he is a human being who plays better football than anyone else. When that person exceeds you, you can’t suffer, he just gives you pleasure.”
2 – A comparison between Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappé across the last two editions of the #FIFAWorldCup (2018 & 2022). Showdown. pic.twitter.com/sIANUBIlUy
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Also a finalist at Brazil 2014, Messi is yet to win the World Cup, and has confirmed this weekend’s match will be his last shot at the ultimate glory with Argentina.
And Batistuta is backing him to seal the deal eight years on from defeat to Germany, suggesting his drive will finally get him over the line.
“I expected him to be much calmer, but he is playing like a 20-year-old,” he added. “That’s because he’s hungry, he’s here to win the Cup. That’s what football needs, that’s what Leo is spreading to the whole team.
“Argentina have all the conditions to take the title. There’s something in the atmosphere, a positive energy, for this to happen. For Messi and for the fans too.”
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