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Ukraine skipper Andriy Shevchenko has said that AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic could have been crowned the world player of the year if it had not been for Lionel Messi. The Barcelona striker Lionel Messi is widely regarded to be one of the best players in the world.

He has now won the Ballon d’Or three times in succession, which is a feat achieved by only a select few players in the world. Andriy Shevchenko won the Ballon d’Or when he was playing for AC Milan in 2004. Zlatan Ibrahimovic helped AC Milan win the Italian Serie A title last season by scoring 35 goals in all competitions. Even though he has not been able to replicate the same feat this time around, Shevchenko believes that Ibrahimovic is clearly one of the best players in the world.

Shevchenko will be coming up against Zlatan Ibrahimovic when Ukraine take on Sweden in the second game of the group D. He has sensationally claimed that Ibrahimovic has the ability to take Sweden to the semifinals of the Euro 2012. He has also said that even though the Sweden team is not strong in the midfield and defence, the presence of Ibrahimovic alone will help them do well at the Euro 2012.

“With Zlatan in the squad, everything is possible. He has enjoyed perhaps his best season yet. If there wasn’t Lionel Messi around, Zlatan could easily have won the Ballon d’Or this year, and he’d have deserved it. I know Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s quality very well, and a team with someone like him is automatically a candidate for a final victory. Maybe the Swedish national team is not so strong in defence and in midfield, but I feel they will be a competitor for a semi-finals berth,” said Shevchenko ahead of the match with Sweden Football.

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Barcelona midfielder Seydou Keita has said that striker Lionel Messi is a machine after the Argentine broke all records in the world following his four goals against Espanyol. The four goals against Espanyol in the 4-0 meant that Lionel Messi has now overtaken every other record in terms of the most number of goals scored in a single season. The Argentine now has 72 goals for Barcelona in all competitions this season. This has led to midfielder Seydou Keita believing that Lionel Messi is very similar to a machine that is made to score goals. The 4-0 win over Espanyol was also the perfect send off for Barcelona manager Guardiola according to the midfielder.

The 30-year-old midfielder came on as a substitute in the match against Chelsea, but was unable to score a goal that would have seen his side through to the Champions League final. As it is, Barcelona have also failed to defend their league title for the first time in three seasons. Even though Guardiola will be going out on a low, Seydou Keita reckons that the task of much more easier for the assistant manager Tito to once again make Barcelona successful due to the presence of Lionel Messi.

“Leo is a star, he gets better every day and every match. We’re lucky to have him in the team because he’s a machine. Pep has given everything to this club. He’s won a lot of titles. It’s a source of pride for the supporters and the club to have him. Thank you Pep,” Keita said after the match. The 72 goals scored by Lionel Messi this season breaks the all-time record held by Romanian Dudu Georgescu, who achieved the record back in 1977. Ronaldo is the closest competitor to Lionel Messi this season with 44 league goals.