Ludovic Giuly will always be remembered fondly at Barcelona. The French forward lifted the Champions League with the Catalan giants when they beat Arsenal in 2006, and even had a goal disallowed in that final.
By that time he had also won two La Liga titles since his arrival from Monaco two years earlier.
A direct and pacey goalscorer, he often formed a three-pronged attack with Samuel Eto’o and Ronaldinho as Barcelona were at the start of a dominant age.
But Giuly, who will be playing for France at this summer’s inaugural Star Sixes tournament at The O2, left Barça a year after their Champions League success in Paris, and it was largely down to the emergence of a young Argentinian player who was about to shake the world.
A 19-year-old Lionel Messi began to make his mark and in the 2006-07 season, Giuly’s last in Spain, started a spree that would see him become the club’s all-time top goalscorer as well as five-time Ballon D’or winner.
But seeing what Messi has achieved is no surprise to Giuly, who made way for the teenage sensation.
“I saw him Leo growing up, he worked a lot to reach everything that he has accomplished,” said Giuly, now 40.
“When he was only 16 years old, everybody could see that he was different, a player with a lot of technique and very fast with the ball.
“It’s amazing what he did for the past 10 years, playing always at top level. I was lucky to know him and play with him. And for me, he is the best player in the world.”
While at the Camp Nou, Giuly also played with two other players he feels should have both been crowned the best player in the world during their amazing careers.
“Xavi and Iniesta have a very strong relationship with Barcelona,” he said. “Their playing style was what defined the club style.
“They are incredible players: their passing and dribbling skills are top level. These are two players that should have won the Ballon D’Or.”
After leaving Barcelona in 2007, Giuly spent a year at Roma before moving back to France and Paris Saint-Germain.
In three seasons with Les Parisiens, he was a hit with the fans and helped the club win the French Cup in 2010, beating his former club AS Monaco in the final.
PSG have since gone on to become a force in European football and earlier this month he saw them face Barça in the Champions League, with the Blaugrana somehow turning around a 4-0 first leg defeat to win 6-5 on aggregate.
“It was a terrible match for PSG and a historic match for FC Barcelona.” he said. “It was a dream win that only a few could expect. It will be hard for PSG to overcome it.”
He added: “But I think FC Barcelona are going through a tough moment, I believe they can go far but not sure if they will win the Champions League.”