"Messi and I weren't really friends at Barça"
He played with the Argentine for some of his best seasons at Barcelona, but they never got along
He is for many one of the best central defenders that FC Barcelona have had in this century. Rafael Márquez is a modern legend of the Blaugrana club and now, under the presidency of Joan Laporta, he has returned to the club to lead none other than Barça B, the reserve team that has been up and down for years. However, Márquez, who played for Barça between 2003 and 2010, has a small "blemish" on his record: he never got along with Lionel Messi.
From the get go, Rafa Márquez made it clear on several occasions he does not consider the Argentine the best footballer in history: "We were never really good friends, it was always a good relationship, cordial and respectful. We were both quiet, in the dressing room we carried it that way and on the field we transformed to win each match", he said in an interview for Spanish TV show El Chiringuito.
In another interview, this time for the Mexican media outlet TUDN, Márquez detailed an argument he had with Messi in a match, in which the Argentine apparently did not score goals: "They gave Messi the ball and he began to make fun of one and another time, he reached the goal and didn't score, so you know that I don't like to lose even in marbles, I scolded Leo because he didn't pass the ball and didn't score, he got angry, we started arguing. Pep came in and kept quiet Leo, and the fight is over". The only seasons in which Messi, Márquez and Guardiola coincided were 2008-09 and 2009-10 and in both Messi scored 38 and 47 goals respectively, seasons that earned Messi his first two Ballon d'Ors.
That said, in the El Chiringuito interview, Rafa Márquez revealed who is for him the best of all time: "The best of all time is Pelé, although I did not see him play, but for everything he won, how he marked football and his transcendence despite the times he played in. For the Ballon d'Or this year (2021), I'd give it to Lewandowski. If it wasn't him, it would be between Leo and Benzema, but it's very difficult to prefer one of those two".
The former Mexican player also detailed part of his experiences with the Brazilian star Ronaldinho, whom he highly esteems: "I lived with Dinho from the beginning in Barcelona and I saw his different abilities, obviously Messi is one of a kind, but Ronaldinho was magic, the joy of football, the party. When you thought he was going to do something, he took something else out of the hat, it was magical. We know that he never gave what he could perhaps". Now at Barça, Rafa Márquez is rarely heard to speak ill of Messi.