Barcelona star Lionel Messi urged to honour Diego Maradona by signing for Napoli

Lionel Messi honours Diego Maradona by wearing a Newell's Old Boys shirt

Lionel Messi has been urged to sign for Napoli when he leaves Barcelona - as a tribute to the late, great Diego Maradona. 

Maradona passed away last month at the age of 60 and within Europe at least, Napoli is the club he's most synonymous with. 

During his seven seasons in Naples, the Argentina legend helped the Italian outfit win Serie A twice, as well as a Coppa Italia and the UEFA Cup. This period was very much the peak of Maradona's career, as he also guided La Albiceleste to the 1986 World Cup. 

And former AC Milan and Barcelona forward Kevin-Prince Boateng believes Messi should sign for Napoli to honour his countryman. 

Messi came close to leaving Barca in the summer after their humiliating Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich, but ultimately ended up staying at the Nou Camp. 

However, his contract is due to expire upon the close of the current campaign, at which point he'll likely have his pick of next destinations. 

Former team-mate Boateng, who now plays for Serie B side Monza, has urged Messi to follow in Maradona's footsteps by moving to Naples. 

As quoted by ESPN, he said: "Messi's going to finish his contract at Barcelona, [but] how amazing would it be if he would just call Napoli and say 'I will come'?"

"'They don't give out the No. 10 shirt anymore, [but] I would love to honour Maradona's No. 10 and I would love to come and play one year or two years at Naples, without thinking about money or nothing, just heart.'

"But just that story: 'In honour of Maradona, I will come and play for Naples,' what kind of story would that be for the world, not only for football, for the world?

"It would be a message, it would be history everywhere. I just wish I would be in Messi's shoes. I want to be Messi. I would call the president of Naples and I would tell him."

Kevin-Prince Boateng signs for Barcelona

There are obvious comparisons between Argentina's two greatest gifts to the beautiful game, and it's really not clear where Messi will end up next - whether he'll want to still challenge for European football's top honours, find a club that aren't direct competitors with Barcelona or play in a different continent altogether. 

Napoli is certainly an interesting proposition as the type of club where Messi could enjoy a starring role without as much pressure to win silverware, although it would admittedly take an incredibly selfless man to dedicate what could be the final years of his career to honouring someone else - even if that someone is a footballing legend. 

Boateng though, seems completely overawed by Maradona's impact on Napoli: "I heard stories about him where he came out from the training ground and saw families and gave them money and said 'everything's going to be alright'." 

"That's what made him so special in Naples. Of course he won the league, but he was like a person you could touch, and it's difficult to find. He was always there; you saw him scoring an amazing goal, and then the next day, you could find him walking through the streets."

Unfortunately, that kind of connection between player and fan has become an increasing scarcity in the modern game. 

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