Diego Maradona would be better than Lionel Messi in the modern day, believes Maradona’s former team-mate Bernd Schuster

 Bernd Schuster Diego Maradona Lionel Messi
Bernd Schuster Diego Maradona Lionel Messi

Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi, naturally, continuously draw comparisons with one another due to them both being diminutive Argentines and for their style of play, but Maradona's former team-mate Bernd Schuster believes Diego would be the better footballer if both played in the modern game.

Former German international Schuster played in midfield for Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, among others, during his successful career, turning out alongside Maradona at Barca for two seasons between 1982 and 1984.

During those two seasons, Schuster had the privilege of witnessing Maradona's brilliance first-hand. In an era where pitches weren't pristine carpets and referees allowed a lot more reckless challenges from opposition players, Maradona obviously thrived.

For Schuster, though, this offers only a glimpse of the quality he'd have been capable of had he been playing in today's game.

"We talked a lot about football," Schuster told FourFourTwo about his relationship with Maradona. "We thought about the game in the same way: we liked to entertain the fans.

"Back then, we played on pitches that were in terrible condition and it limited all of us, even Diego, but he was still a phenomenon. If he’d been playing today, with modern facilities and pitches, there’d be no debate about the greatest player ever."

To highlight his point about the dangers of the game over 40 years ago, Schuster reveals he had to have two knee replacements because of a 1981 challenge by Andoin Goikoetxea, dubbed "The Butcher of Bilbao".

"Luckily I was able to play at a high level for another 15 years, but physically it changed me because my knee was never the same again. I couldn’t bend it quite as far and I lost a bit of pace. In fact, two years ago I had to have a knee prosthesis removed and a new one put in. It was a result of that challenge."

After retiring in 1997 with Mexican side Club Universidad Nacional (commonly known as Pumas UNAM) Schuster decided to move into management.

The German led Getafe to the Copa del Rey final in 2006/07, as well as finishing seventh in La Liga. That performance earned him the Real Madrid job for the 2007/08 season, where he won the league title before stepping down in December 2008 due to the emergence of Pep Guardiola's Barcelona.

He moved on to Besiktas and Malaga, with the last job of managerial career coming in China with Dalian Yifang.