Lineker won’t ‘apologise’ for ‘staggering’ Messi praise as MOTD host previews World Cup final

Jason Soutar
Gary Lineker speaks about Man Utd

Gary Lineker has once again heaped praise on Lionel Messi ahead of Sunday’s World Cup final between Argentina and France.

The former England striker has never shied away from letting everyone know how much he loves the Argentine magician.

Messi will have the opportunity to win the World Cup for the first time in his career this weekend.

He won the Copa America last year, his first title with Argentina, and was beaten in the World Cup final in 2014, losing 1-0 to Germany after extra-time.

The 35-year-old had lost four Copa America finals in his career before eventually getting his hands on some silverware as Albiceleste captain.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward has arguably been the best player in Qatar this winter, while France stars Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann have also been on top form.

Some – mainly Piers Morgan – have taken exception to Lineker’s praise of Messi – despite the fact Morgan’s insufferable love for Cristiano Ronaldo has worryingly escalated in recent weeks.

Others, are normal people and don’t really mind, or simply don’t care whatsoever.

Previewing Sunday’s final, Lineker refused to apologise after once again waxing lyrical about the Barcelona legend and believes the game is “really tough” to predict.

No matter the result, Messi will always be regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, the Match of the Day host said.

“One-off finals, they can twist and turn on a little bit of good fortune,” Lineker told the BBC. “An incredible moment that might come for Messi or Mbappe, or both.

“It is a really tough one to predict. I’d personally [say] because it’s probably widely known that I am a massive admirer of Lionel Messi and I make no apologies for that.

“He has given me so much joy, watching the incredible amounts of football that I do watch over nearly two decades.

“I think whatever happens in this final for him, he has confirmed his status as being right up there with one of the all-time greats.

“His performances have been just staggering, game after game of doing those moments. Even in his quiet games, he does three or four things that always take your breath away.

“But the things in these matches have been incredible, so I think he is playing with a bit more of that freedom because of the winning of the Copa America, and he is playing with a joy that we have seen for so many years.

“I would love to see Argentina do it for that reason, France would be worthy winners as well, they are an excellent side but they did win it four years ago.”

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