Javier Mascherano has claimed that Barcelona star Lionel Messi is football’s version of Michael Jordan after watching some of Netflix’s documentary miniseries The Last Dance.
The former Barcelona midfielder and centre-back played with Messi for eight years at the Camp Nou and with the Argentina national team, sampling first-hand the ‘competitive animal’ his compatriot is on the field.
That desire to win at all costs was also in evidence on the final day of the 2019/20 LaLiga season, when Messi lambasted his team-mates for conceding the title to rivals Real Madrid.
The Last Dance also portrayed Jordan as a ruthless – and occasionally divisive – winner in the Netflix series, causing high tension within the Chicago Bulls dressing room.
But Mascherano believes the two are similar in their competitive attitudes but described Messi as more down to earth.
‘The one who plays at Barcelona is the closest thing [to Jordan],’ Mascherano told Fox Sports’ 90 Minutos, as reported by the newspaper Ole.
‘At least in the way they compete. It’s another sport. Relationships are different.
‘For the little I saw of the series [the Chicago Bulls documentary on Netflix], Leo is more down to earth and natural.
‘But they are competitive animals, that’s why they have had so many years at the top.
‘Leo is perhaps more of a human. But well, obviously, in borderline situations there is a look, a shout or something.
‘These are collective sports. As much as you are the best, you need those around you. You just can’t do everything.
‘To keep your place, it’s important to have the number one, but your teammates must play their part.’
Jordan won six NBA titles and to this day holds countless records with the Bulls, but had personal and many competitive rivalries with the likes of Isiah Thomas and Karl Malone.
Messi meanwhile has won 10 LaLiga titles and four Champions Leagues and shared a rivlary with Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo during his spell in Spain.