With Lionel Messi having come up against some of the world's best defenders during his career so far, the FC Barcelona superstar has now named a surprise player as the toughest opponent he's faced.
Messi regularly meets Sergio Ramos in LaLiga, came up against Virgil van Dijk last season against Liverpool and once embarrassed Jerome Boateng in the UEFA Champions League, but the Argentina international overlooked these and more when naming his toughest opponent recently.
The 32-year-old is regularly the victim of man-marking, a tactic he claims does not bother him, but revealed that Girona defender Pablo Maffeo was the toughest player to beat in those circumstances.
"Pablo Maffeo of Girona (is the toughest), that was intense!" Messi said when asked about his toughest opponent recently, according to DAZN.
The encounter he refers to came in 2018 when, despite Barcelona winning 3-0, Messi was nullified by the former Spain youth international, who even turned down the chance to trade jerseys after the match.
Following that clash, Maffeo himself commented on his performance and highlighted how challenging it was to mark the record six-time Ballon d'Or winner.
"I had to mark him and I had to be close to him and not watch the ball. It is difficult, not just from a football perspective, but also psychologically," Maffeo said, as per SportBible.
Click through the gallery below for images of the 2019 UEFA Team of the Year, which includes Lionel Messi!
The former Manchester City youth player is currently enjoying his third stint at Girona, having rejoined the club on loan from VfB Stuttgart at the beginning of this season.
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