Argentine captain, Lionel Messi didn’t hold back his admiration for his teammate, Cristian Romero, after a resounding start to the 2026 World Cup qualifiers against Ecuador.
While Messi himself dazzled with a sublime free-kick, it was Tottenham Hotspur’s center-back, Cristian Romero, who stole the spotlight. His outstanding performance included an impressive five tackles and a whopping eleven duels won, ultimately contributing to Argentina’s clean sheet.
Romero’s precision on the pitch also shone through, as he successfully completed 67 out of 68 attempted passes, seven of which were in the crucial final third.
After the match, Lionel Messi did not hesitate to shower Romero with accolades. Speaking to reporters, he declared, “For me, he is the best defender in the world right now. Amazing performance tonight, man of the match.”
🎙️ Lionel Messi: “Cristian Romero is the best defender in the world.” 🇦🇷 pic.twitter.com/jZZIKusHUO
— Football Tweet ⚽ (@Football__Tweet) September 8, 2023
At just 25 years old, Romero has established himself as a stalwart in the Argentine defense. Since his debut in 2021, he has proudly represented La Albiceleste on 23 occasions, netting two goals along the way. His pivotal role in Argentina’s World Cup victory cannot be understated, as he featured in every match during the tournament, starting in six out of seven games.
Lionel Messi’s endorsement of Cristian Romero has sparked heated debates among soccer enthusiasts online. While some fans argue for alternative candidates like William Saliba from Arsenal or Matthijs de Ligt of Bayern Munich, others defend Messi’s judgment, citing his extensive experience facing the world’s top defenders as validation of his opinion.
Enzo Fernández also named Romero the best defender in the world
Following in the footsteps of his captain Lionel Messi, Chelsea’s star midfielder, Enzo Fernández, has joined the chorus of praise for their fellow teammate, Cristian Romero, on social media.
Fernández echoed Messi’s sentiments, expressing his agreement by commenting on Romero’s Instagram post after the game, simply stating, “The best central in the world.”
In a light-hearted exchange, their compatriot and Manchester United defender, Lisandro Martínez, responded with playful disbelief, writing, “You’re crazy,” accompanied by a clapping emoji.
Enzo on Romero: “The best centre back in the world.”
— All About Argentina 🛎🇦🇷 (@AlbicelesteTalk) September 8, 2023
Despite being a mere 25 years old, Romero is already proving himself as the heir to the defensive legacy left by his older counterpart, Nicolás Otamendi, who, at 35 years old, is approaching the twilight of his career.
As Romero and Lisandro Martínez continue to excel, they are expected to shoulder the defensive responsibilities well into the future, even beyond the upcoming Copa América. This is especially pertinent given Otamendi’s anticipated retirement from the international stage after the Copa América.
For Argentine fans, the prospect of having “the best” defenders in the world to safeguard their team’s defensive line is undoubtedly a source of great joy and optimism.