The ‘third best player in the world’ debate has produced a number of different contenders since Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s mission for world domination kickstarted back in 2007.
At that time, Kaka was regarded as the best of the rest after winning the Ballon d’Or – the last player to do so before the Ronaldo-Messi duopoly began.
But this season a new name has entered the fold.
Paulo Dybala has been absolutely electric for Juventus so far in 2017/18, scoring ten goals in six Serie A appearances and a further two in the Italian Super Cup in August.
But despite his manager Max Allegri branding him the ‘third best player in the world’, his national coach Jorge Sampaoli can’t find room for him in the Argentina starting line up.
And it’s all because of Messi.
- Why are Peru insisting on bringing their own water bottles to play Argentina?
- This one passage of play proves how reliant Argentina are on Lionel Messi
- How do Paulo Dybala and Lionel Messi compare at 23-years-old?
Sampaoli believes it is too risky to trial both Dybala and Messi in the same team with so much at stake this week in terms of World Cup qualification.
Argentina are currently fifth in South American qualifying and welcome fourth-placed Peru to Buenos Aires on Thursday knowing a defeat could leave their hopes of reaching the finals in Russia in tatters.
And the former Sevilla boss believes now is not the time to field both players together as they are too similar and occupy the same positions.
“As there is no time to work the Dybala-Messi relationship, we should go to something more concrete,” Sampaoli said.
“Leo needs to move in the field normally as he does with his club.
“To invent a position so as he can develop a system or to structure him, that would be crazy.”
So, for now at least, we won’t be seeing two of the finest talents on the planet in tandem.
But if Argentina do reach the World Cup, Sampaoli has time to devise a masterplan to accommodate both.