With academies signing up players at increasingly younger ages, street smarts will soon become a thing of the past, according to the Argentine
The 1986 World Cup winner argued that his fellow Argentine is one of a kind, and that any future superstars in the game will have physical attributes more commonly associated with Ronaldo than with the Barcelona winger.
Now working as a commentator in Spanish football, Valdano believes a man of Messi’s build and talent is unlikely to be seen again.
“Messi contradicts everything,” Valdano told Tiempo. “Being a genius, he can change anything. He has the power of a hero, of a superstar.
“This week he released a statement on Instagram responding to Eric Abidal, the technical secretary, who had for some reason criticised the players – he left Barcelona shaking.
“Then, on the pitch, he has the power to imbalance any side. He has decided three of the last four results with his devastating influence. He has become more mature and more aware of his power.
“There is only one Messi,” he added. “It’s hard to know what will come after him. Taking into consideration that a genius is born every 15 or 20 years, the next one will have a more academic background.
“Messi is a formative miracle: he owes his gifts to both the streets and the academy.
“Until the age of 13 he grew up in Argentina, with a more informal education, then moved to Barcelona where he learned to play attractive football – but it was much more formal.
“The streets have disappeared from training schools for football players. In South America there are still areas of poverty where football continues to reign.
“The next Messi will be more similar to Cristiano Ronaldo than Messi, more physically superhuman, more competitive, just as heroic, but cut from a different cloth.”
The Barcelona captain became just the second player to reach double figures for goals and assists in Europe’s top five leagues this season in his side’s 3-2 win over Real Betis on Sunday.
Since grabbing ten goals and 14 assists in the Spanish top flight for the first time in the 2007-08 campaign, Messi has only failed to reach double figures in both categories on one occasion, in the 2016-17 season.