Naples (Italy) (AFP)

Lionel Messi is "the greatest of all time", assured Monday Gennaro Gattuso, the trainer of Naples, club marked by the passage of the legendary Diego Maradona, on the eve of the duel between his team and Barcelona in the Champions League.

"He is the biggest and he is an example for everyone, he never says a word higher than the other. He does things that only exist on the Playstation, things unthinkable. It's been a few years already he is the tallest of all time, "Gattuso said in a press conference.

Relaunched on the comparison with Maradona, who played in Naples from 1984 to 1991, Gattuso replied that the idol of Napoli was "a god of football".

"But I saw him on VHS, or on DVD. Up close, at the stadium, I never saw him. I know the champion he was and I know I missed something wonderful. I regret it. Today I see Messi doing things that Maradona was doing, "he said.

Captain of Napoli and Napolitain himself, Lorenzo Insigne was more diplomatic.

"Messi is the strongest in the world today. But for us Neapolitans, Maradona is everything and I don't want to compare. Maradona is sacred," he said.

The two men, however, agreed on the need not to focus exclusively on Messi.

"I read things about devices, individual marking ... We have to do a collective service, because it's not just Messi," said Gattuso, who said he was an admirer of the work of Quique Sétien, the new Barça coach.

"I watched him a lot, in Las Palmas, at Betis Sevilla. I have great respect for him, he's a very great coach. And I see again with him the Barcelona that we haven't seen for a year and half, two years, "said the Italian technician.

Insigne, for its part, considered that Naples had the means to hinder the Catalans.

"It’s a difficult game but we’re trying to prepare as well as possible. The Champions League is something else. We lost a lot of points against the little ones, but in the Champions League we were able to beat Liverpool and a draw at home, "he said.

© 2020 AFP