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Lionel Messi the GOAT? Argentina and Barcelona star poses with goats for photoshoot

New York City-based magazine PAPER has taken Lionel Messi's status as football's GOAT one step further by pairing the Barcelona forward with a number of the animals for a photoshoot.

Messi supporters claim that the five-time world player of the year is the GOAT -- Greatest Of All Time -- and often use an emoji of an actual goat to illustrate their point.

Picking up on that, PAPER arranged for Messi to be photographed with a number of goats ahead of this summer's World Cup.

In one of the images, Messi grabs the reins of a big male goat and in another one he's captured wearing an Argentina shirt while laughing and playing with one of the babies.

"I am a big fan of animals," Messi told the magazine. "I grew up with them and they have taught me many things. Now we have our dog Hulk who really is part of the family, we always include him. Our children learn so much from Hulk: The love shown between him and the kids and the kids and him is constant."

However, it turns out Messi is more at ease with animals than he is with the idea that he is the best player to ever play football.

"I don't consider myself the best, I think I am just another player," he says of his GOAT status. "On the field, we are all the same when the game begins."

The shoot took place at La Granja Natura, a Barcelona farm and educational centre.

Veterinarians and staff from the farm were present on set to ensure the safe treatment of the goats and to verify that they were healthy and suffered no harm.

Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.

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