Messi is a step ahead of everyone else, says Inter star Lautaro Martinez

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Lionel Messi is the world's best player because he is "always a step ahead of everyone else", according to Inter striker Lautaro Martinez. 

Martinez had been tipped to join his compatriot at Barcelona during the transfer window, but the Catalans were unable to strike a deal with the Nerazzurri even after Messi had ended his attempt to leave Camp Nou. 

Still, Messi and Martinez have played together for Argentina since the latter made his international debut back in 2018. 

The 23-year-old says he always tries to learn from the six-time Ballon d'Or winner – a player he claims understands football on a different level to his contemporaries. 

"I know Leo more from the times we've been team-mates for the Argentina national team rather than from having come up against him," Martinez told UEFA.com. 

"I've said it in the past and will say it again now and in the future: he's the best player in the world. The fact he's Argentinian is a source of pride for us and we always try to learn from him. 

"For me, he's on another level – he understands the game in a different way and he's always a step ahead of everyone else." 

Inter are preparing to get their Champions League campaign underway on Wednesday, when they host Borussia Monchengladbach at San Siro. 

Martinez remembers watching Jose Mourinho's treble-winners defeat Bayern Munich in the final in 2010, when compatriots Diego Milito, Esteban Cambiasso, Javier Zanetti and Walter Samuel all played. 

Zanetti, who is now Inter vice-president, was hugely important in helping Martinez settle in Italy after his move from Racing two years ago. 

"Javier is a very important Inter man, and for us [players] as well because he passes down to us everything he's experienced at this club," Martinez said. 

"He did so to me when I first came to Italy. Whenever I've needed something, he's always tried to help me. He always lends an ear and asks how I'm doing or gives me a hand with anything I might need. 

"He's always there to make sure I'm alright inside the club and outside too. Above all, he helped me with the language when I arrived, with what the club meant and how we train. He was very important in those matters, so I'll always be grateful to him. He really helped me out when I got here."