Lionel Messi has never been short of admirers, and after winning the 2021 Copa America with him, one of Argentina's stars has made a bold claim about the playmaker.
In an interview with Argentine newspaper Ole, goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez has revealed his strong adoration for his captain, stating that he would "die for him".
The Aston Villa shot-stopper explained that he was left speechless when Messi posted an image on Instagram of the two of them sharing a hug following their Copa semi-final win over Colombia on penalties, in which Martinez was the hero having saved three of the five penalties.
"They are sentences or pictures that you keep for the rest of your life. Or to have a frame that I’m hugging him," he said.
"Same thing in the semis, when he came to hug me, same as the interview or what he put on Instagram, it gave me strength to stop in the final and be even better. It gives me strength.
"That he puts a photo with the caption 'he (Martinez) is a phenomenon', how can I not perform in a final?
"I want to give him life, I want to die for him. I said it four or five months ago, I said I prefer that he wins the Copa America before I do. And it's true.
"Just like every Argentine. The Brazilians, for me, wanted Argentina to win the Copa just because of Messi.
"And an Argentine isn't going to want Messi to win it? It (winning the Copa America) happened and hopefully we can give him the World Cup."
Click through the gallery below to see Argentina celebrating their Copa America triumph