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Lionel Messi is the greatest ever regardless of Sunday's result

Lionel Messi is football's greatest ever player with or without a World Cup winner's medal, says Kevin Kilbane.

Former Republic of Ireland international Kevin Kilbane joined The Football Show to discuss Lionel Messi.

Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe face off in the World Cup final on Sunday.

Mbappe already has a winner's medal. Messi doesn't. Mbappe is arguably the best player in the world right now and Messi is coming to the end of his career. Messi is still hugely impactful, he has dragged Argentina to the final for the second time in his career.

But for many Messi needs to win on Sunday to solidify his status as the best ever player.

It's undoubtedly a huge game for his legacy even though it comes so late in his career. Mbappe will probably play in another World Cup final so it's not as big of a game for him. Argentina fans understand the gravity of the game and are fully behind their superstar.

"I think it means everything, Messi means everything to them," Kilbane said.

"I went to watch the Poland game actually. Being around the Argentinian fans watching that match, it was incredible. Every time he got the ball no matter if it was on his own 18-yard box, they just stand up. They just wait for something to happen when Messi is on the ball."

But while he's beloved by his fanbase and most of South America, if Messi doesn't win a World Cup it will always be used against him. He has won everything else that he could possibly win in his career. All of the greats have won World Cups. Messi won't be held alongside Maradonna or Pele if he doesn't.

Or will he?

Not everyone thinks that Messi needs to win the World Cup to validate his career. He can still be the best player to ever play without winning the biggest competition in international football. Since the Champions League has eclipsed the World Cup as the pinnacle of football, it's less relevant than it was before.

And even if Messi doesn't win on Sunday, he's enjoyed great international success throughout his career.

Kevin Kilbane believes Messi is the best player ever regardless of Sunday.

"I don't think it's going to tarnish his legacy if he doesn't win another World Cup. This is his fifth major final, three Copa Americas and two World Cup finals. Obviously the one win in the Cop America has given him some sort of gravitas further down the line that he's won an international competition.

"But I don't see it as that.

"Even if he didn't win the Copa America, it wouldn't make any difference to me. But in some people's eyes...they feel as though he's got to win a World Cup to be considered on the level of Maradonna, to be considered on the level of Pele.

"For that reason, and just to put that shadow of the doubt out of the way, I hope they win for that reason.

"But for me personally it doesn't make any difference. I think we all know, any football fan whose watched the game for the last 20 years, we all know we've witnessed something special in him. In my opinion he's the greatest ever."

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Kilbane Kylian Mbappe Lionel Messi World Cup