Italian Club Inter Milan and Argentina national team forward Lautaro Martinez has said that for the Argentines, Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi is as important as Diego Maradona.

“For us Argentines, Leo is as important as Maradona was,” he told La Repubblica as quoted by Goal.

Martinez heaped praises on his national teammate acknowledging him as the best in the world.

“It’s something that goes beyond football. He is the best in the world; playing with him in the national team is a privilege,” said the striker about Messi, adding, “He is generous; he shows me his movements, he teaches me to find spaces that apparently do not exist.

“(Winning the World Cup with Messi) would be wonderful. He got very close to it. He has come close to the Copa America, playing three finals.

“Messi as world champion, together with his team-mates, would be a great thing for all Argentina.”

Notably, Messi bagged his world-record sixth Ballon d’Or at the ceremony in Paris earlier this month. He surpassed the likes of Liverpool stars Virgil van Dijk, Sadio Mane and his long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo to bag home the coveted award.

With this award, Messi, who had also bagged The Best FIFA award earlier in the year, took his Ballon d’Or tally to six and became the most successful player since the inception of the award, surpassing Cristiano Ronaldo, who has five such awards to his name.

In Wednesday’s Clasico, the Argentine added another feather to his cap by becoming the second Barca player to play 42 matches against old-foes Real Madrid.

Messi equalled former Catalonia striker Xavi Hernandez with the most Clasicos played for Barcelona, and is only behind Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos who has 43 such matches to his name.