Thiago Almada earns praise from Lionel Messi following Argentina debut

Chris Smith
Almada has caught the eye of Lionel Messi.
Almada has caught the eye of Lionel Messi. / Eric Espada/GettyImages

If a seven-time Ballon d'Or winner offers you a compliment, it's usually a sure sign that you're on the right path.

Having excelled during his debut season in Major League Soccer, Thiago Almada received high praise from none other than Lionel Messi after making his senior Argentina debut on Friday.

Almada came on as a 54th-minute substitute as La Albiceleste beat Honduras 3-0 in a friendly, completing 91% of his 22 attempted passes, creating one chance, and making four recoveries.

Even in limited minutes, the Atlanta United midfielder did enough to impress arguably the greatest player ever to grace the pitch.

"Thiago is very fresh. He is a very fast player who knows how to play one-on-one. He is very mischievous. He is not afraid of anything," Messi said after Friday's victory.

Argentina face Jamaica in another friendly on Tuesday, with Almada one of a number of young players looking to make Lionel Scaloni's World Cup roster. The two-time champions have been drawn into Group C alongside Mexico, Poland, and Saudi Arabia.

Since signing for Atlanta United from Velez for an MLS-record $16m fee last winter, Almada has registered six goals and six primary assists across 27 regular season appearances.

The Five Stripes are ninth in the Eastern Conference, two points adrift of the MLS Cup Playoffs spots with two matches remaining.