'On a different level': Celtic's Callum McGregor raves about 'unbelievable' opponent

Callum McGregor of Celtic FC in action against Luis Coimbra Aurelio of CFR Cluj  during the UEFA Champions League 2019

The Celtic midfielder is often deemed one of the best talents in Scotland - but even the Hoops ace admits Lionel Messi appears "on a different level from everybody else".

Lionel Messi of Barcelona celebrates scoring his sides first goal during the UEFA Champions League Group C match between Celtic FC and FC Barcelona at Celtic Park Stadium on November 23,...

Celtic ace Callum McGregor has declared Barcelona attacker Lionel Messi the toughest player he's ever come up against (official Celtic website).

The Hoops midfielder described the Argentine as "on a different level from everybody else" and, despite being "unbelievable" to watch, is "even better in person".

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McGregor has faced Messi twice in his career, during the 2016-17 season when Celtic and Barcelona were in Champions League Group C together (Soccerbase).

 

The Hoops found themselves on the receiving end of a 7-0 rout in the Camp Nou clash on 13 September, Messi scoring his sixth Champions League hat-trick that night (BBC Sport).

McGregor came on in the 76th minute that day, while he was subbed off in 71st minute of the return fixture at Parkhead on 23 November as Messi claimed another two goals (BBC Sport).

In a Q&A with Celtic View, the 26-year-old was asked on who he feels are the best footballers he's played both with and against.

Callum McGregor of Celtic FC in action against Luis Coimbra Aurelio of CFR Cluj  during the UEFA Champions League 2019

For the former, McGregor replied: "I’d probably say either Jamesy or Broony. They’re both top players and do the business for us season in, season out. It would be hard for anyone to argue against the two of them."

Regarding the latter question, he said: "Lionel Messi is the best opponent I’ve played against. I came up against him in the Champions League a few years ago and he seems to be on a different level from everybody else.

"When you watch him, he’s unbelievable but he’s even better in person. Any time you got close to him, it felt like he knew what you were going to do and he just did the opposite. If you pressed him he would pass it and if you sat off him he’d dribble at you and past you."

Lionel Messi in action during the week 8 of La Liga match between Valencia CF and FC Barcelona at Mestalla Stadium in Valencia, Spain on October 7, 2018.

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