'Messi is on the same level as Maradona'

Ligue 1

Paris Saint-Germain manager Mauricio Pochettino has leaped to the defence of Lionel Messi, who claims is on the same level as Diego Maradona.

The Argentine forward registered nine goals and 13 assists across all competitions during his maiden season with the French giants.

Pochettino feels it's unfair to judge Messi after moving to a new league and country, with coach insisting that next term will be better.

"We’re not talking about an ordinary player, Messi is on the same level as Diego Maradona," Pochettino has told RMC Sport.

Read: PSG make decision on Messi & Neymar?

"It is clear that his move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain was a big change, in which an adaptation process was necessary. Certain circumstances didn’t allow him to feel as comfortable as he did at Barcelona where he’d spent 20 years. Where he had been the standard-bearer of the club.

"To judge Messi in this way is unfair. I have no doubts about his quality… Next season will be a completely different season for him.

"This has been a year of learning, and not only at the professional level in coming to Paris, in a new league and with new team-mates, but also at the level of family. This must be taken into account. It’s a major upheaval that can affect a player."

Click through the gallery below to see PSG's highest-paid players this season