Bendtner: 'Messi is the world's best' - Exclusive
Published 23:00 29/03/10 By John Cross
Nicklas Bendtner has hailed Lionel Messi as the best player in the world for his "crazy" talent.
But Bendtner says Arsenal can frustrate Messi and Barcelona and believes they can upset the reigning European champions at the Emirates.
Danish striker Bendtner has even suggested that Arsenal's style means that Barcelona will not go into tomorrow night's Champions League quarter final as favourites.
But Bendtner has conceded that Arsenal must find a way of stopping the current World Player of the Year after putting Messi above all of his rivals like Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Bendtner said: "To me, Messi is the greatest player in the world right now. He has got a fantastic vision of the game, and what he can do technically - it's just crazy.
"The things he can do with the ball - and at pace and top speed - is just amazing.
"What decides it for me is not his many goals, because his goal account is impressive, but the thing is that he can do so much for his team. What counts is the total amount of his many, many qualities. He is just the greatest.
"He has got such quick feet and such good dribbling skills that you simply can't take the ball away from him when he is in high speed.
"If I were a defender, I would try to make sure that he couldn't turn with the ball. As soon as he has turned towards the opposition goal with the ball at his feet, he is almost impossible to stop."
Bendtner's high praise for Messi shows the respect for the brilliant Argentina forward from within the Arsenal dressing room.
Messi has been in sensational form for Barcelona recently - scoring a remarkable eight goals in three games - before starting from the bench in Saturday's win at Real Mallorca.
But Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola will be hoping that Messi is at the very top of his game tomorrow night, especially as they will be without Spain midfielder Andres Iniesta, who is out with a hamstring injury and may also miss the second leg.
That is a ray of hope for Arsenal but Barcelona's other injury doubts, Gerard Pique and Xavi, both declared themselves fit yesterday and will travel to London today.
Barcelona are the overwhelming favourites and the absence of Iniesta may also present a chance for ex-Arsenal striker Thierry Henry to start on his emotional return to the Emirates.
But even though the odds seem against Arsenal to avenge the 2006 Champions League final defeat in Paris, Bendtner insists that Barcelona will find it tough going.
Bendtner believes that Barcelona - and Messi in particular - may struggle to handle Arsenal's style and high speed tempo which they are not used to in La Liga.
Bendtner added: "What counts in our favour is that we are playing in a different style to what Barcelona are used to in the Spanish League.
"Against us, Messi won't have the same amount of space and time to challenge and dribble with the ball, and the pace of the game in England is also higher than in Spain.
"It will be a totally different kind of game against us than Barca are used to, so even if they are probably slight favourites against us, I would say that the odds are quite even."
Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas is confident of shaking off a knee injury suffered at Birmingham on Saturday with the former Barcelona youth teamer desperate to face his boyhood heroes.
Fabregas's close pal and ex-team mate Gerard Pique has revealed that he has been swapping texts with the Arsenal midfielder and the Barcelona defender is confident they can stop him.
Pique said: "We've been swapping texts and Cesc is optimistic [he will play]. I know that he will be desperate to play. He will see this as the game of the season.
"Cesc is the king at Arsenal. We know how important it will be to stop him because Arsenal are very dangerous, especially with Cesc in their team.
"People talk about Arsenal copying our style. I don't mean to sound arrogant, but it's impossible to copy our style. I am confident by the end of the second leg that Cesc will not be happy."