Gerard Pique explains why Lionel Messi is even greater than Diego Maradona

Barcelona star Gerard Pique has explained why Lionel Messi is greater than predecessor Diego Maradona.

The La Liga giants kick off their Champions League knockout campaign against Napoli on Tuesday night.

Messi is hoping he can guide his side to a first European title for five years.

But he has to go to the former stomping ground of another legend from his country.

Maradona, who spent two seasons with Barca before heading to Napoli, won the World Cup with Argentina in 1986.

It has seen the pair compared over the current forward’s 14-year career.

But Pique, who has spent 12 years playing with the 32-year-old at the Nou Camp, has suggested Messi has the advantage.

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Speaking in the pre-match press conference, the Spaniard said: “Everything has already been said about Maradona.

“[He was] a unique player in the history of this sport, who went through Barça and Napoli and will be remembered forever.

“If you ask me [who is the best between he and Messi], I would tell you that I go for Leo's regularity and magic. I’ve been up close with Leo for years.”

The Barca defender went on to explain how he felt about heading to Maradona’s former stomping ground.

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Pique added: “Well, of Napoli, we have a lot of information.

“They have been growing in recent weeks, with very good players, and for sure they can put us in trouble if we don't go out on the field with an appropriate mindset.

“We will try to impose our style from the beginning, and generate opportunities. It will be important to score goals.”

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Barcelona take on the Serie A giants at the Stadio San Paolo.

Their last European campaign ended in the semi-finals, with Liverpool pulling off an incredible 4-0 win at Anfield after losing the first leg 3-0.

And coach Quique Setien has admitted the Reds are still in the players’ minds 10 months later.

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