Saturday Dec 12, 2020. 15:00
Ghanaian Kevin-Prince Boateng has called for Lionel Messi to honour the legacy of countryman Diego Maradona by playing for Napoli when his time at Barcelona comes to an end.
Argentine legend Maradona is a much-feted figure in Naples, having led the Partenopei to their only two Serie A titles in 1987 and 1990.
In fact, the late Argentine is so beloved that Napoli’s stadium has been renamed in his honour: the Stadio San Paulo is now the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.
Messi, whose contract with Barcelona will come to an end in mid-2021, looks set to open a new chapter away from Catalunya and Boateng believes Napoli would be the perfect destination for him.
“Messi’s going to finish his contract at Barcelona, [but] how amazing would it be if he would just call Napoli and say ‘I will come’?” Boateng told ESPN.
“‘They don’t give out the No. 10 shirt anymore, [but] I would love to honour Maradona’s No. 10 and I would love to come and play one year or two years at Naples, without thinking about money or nothing, just heart.”
The Ghanaian added, “It would be like a movie. He’d have to go to practice by a f****** helicopter because people would eat him alive they’d be so happy.
“But just that story: ‘In honour of Maradona, I will come and play for Naples,’ what kind of story would that be for the world, not only for football, for the world?
“It would be a message, it would be history everywhere. I just wish I would be in Messi’s shoes. I want to be Messi. I would call the president of Naples and I would tell him.”
Boateng explained his understanding of why Maradona’s legacy remains so prevalent in Naples: “I heard stories about him where he came out from the training ground and saw families and gave them money and said ‘everything’s going to be alright’.
“That’s what made him so special in Naples. Of course he won the league, but he was like a person you could touch, and it’s difficult to find.
“He was always there; you saw him scoring an amazing goal, and then the next day, you could find him walking through the streets.”