Kevin-Prince Boateng could have reached the same level as Lionel Messi, according to former Hertha Berlin defender Dick van Burik.
Boateng, 34, has re-joined Hertha Berlin this summer, 14 years after first leaving the club for Tottenham Hotspur – a journey that has seen the Ghanaian represent 13 different clubs not including the German side.
As well as Tottenham, Boateng has played for the likes of Portsmouth, AC Milan, Borussia Dortmund, Eintracht Frankfurt, Besiktas, Fiorentina and Barcelona. Throughout his career, Boateng has won three trophies including Serie A, the DFB-Pokal and La Liga, the latter coming during a surprise move to Spain just two years ago.
When Barcelona sold Munir El Haddadi to Sevilla, they looked to the transfer market for an adequate back up for Luis Suarez and settled on Boateng, signing the Ghanaian on loan from Sassuolo for the remainder of the season, with an option to buy which they did not take.
Boateng would play four times for Barcelona, with three of those appearances coming in La Liga, though he was an unused substitute on a further nine occasions across all competitions. While at Barcelona, Boateng had the opportunity to train alongside Messi, one of the greatest players of all time and shared the field with him for 60 minutes in a 1-0 win over Real Valladolid.
And while Boateng and Messi’s careers cannot be compared, according to the midfielder’s former Hertha Berlin team-mate Van Burik he had the potential to be at the same level.
“Even when Kevin came from the youth to the first team, his potential was immediately world-class,” Van Burik told BILD.
“He can do things that you go to the stadium for. Even then he had the… attitude and simply showed what he can do.
“He has become a great player but I actually expected that he would come even closer to the highest level of Messi. His passing game, the overview, speed, technique, and goal danger, he had it all. That he is now returning to Hertha is a wonderful story.
“As they say in Holland, the circle is round again.”
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The “greatest” players that Hertha Berlin have trained
Although Boateng did not reach the heights of Messi, Van Burik believes the midfielder, and his half-brother Jerome Boateng, are the best players to have come through the Hertha Berlin system having both gone on to achieve success at club and international level.
Jerome Boateng opted to represent Germany at international level and was part of the squad that won the 2014 World Cup, while he has also won two Champions Leagues and nine Bundesliga titles among other accolades.
“Kevin and Jerome Boateng are the greatest players that Hertha have ever trained and both were successful at top international clubs,” Van Burik added.
“Hertha can be very proud of that. If Jerome came now, that would be the absolute Hertha hammer. If both of them finally kicked off where their world careers began, that would be Hertha’s fairy tale.”