Makes it more exciting: Messi praises rival Oblak as ‘one of the best goalkeepers in the world’

The Slovenian international is a pivotal presence in Diego Simeone’s team and the Argentine superstar says it is a pleasure to confront him

Lionel Messi praised Atletico Madrid’s marksman Jan Oblak, calling him “one of the best goalkeepers in the world”, while admitting he appreciates the challenge of trying to beat him.

The Slovenian international, who joined Diego Simeone’s team from Benfica in 2014, has established himself as one of the best goalkeepers in the game in recent years and remains a point of reference for Los Rojiblancos.

Earlier this year, he became the goalkeeper who scored a century of clean sheets in La Liga with the fewest games, beating Miguel Reina’s previous record of 222 by a whopping 40 games.

He picked up where he left off earlier also around this time, having kept out goals in nine of his 13 top flight games this season, to help establish Atletico as true title contenders against rivals and current players. holders of Real Madrid.

He has conceded the fewest league goals – just five – while only three goalkeepers have made more than his 39 saves.

This gives him an 88.1% save rate, comfortably ahead of Yassine Bounou in second place, the Sevilla stopper who saves just under 80% of the shots he has faced.

Oblak made four saves when Atleti overcame Barca 1-0 last month, with Messi unable to find a way out on that occasion – and the Slovenian’s form earned the acclaim of the Argentine, who he offered unequivocal praise for him as an opponent at best.

“It’s nice to face each other,” said the 33-year-old Bud Football . “He is one of the best goalkeepers in the world right now, and it’s always good to fight against the best.

“It is an extra motivation to be able, or try, to score a goal, with what it means and how difficult it is, as it shows in every match he plays.

“So, it’s good to see him out but also to face him in games. It makes them more exciting.”

Barça are next on the pitch against Eibar on Tuesday, while Simeone’s side face Getafe the next day.