Can anyone please tell me what's the difference between in and of in the following sentences? Are they both correct?

  • Lionel Messi is the greatest player of/in the Argentina football team.

  • John is the best student in/of the class.

  • The roads in/of the USA are wider than those of Russia.

In these cases, in and of are interchangeable. Of relates to being a part of something, in relates to a group somebody is in.

If you think of Argentina, the class and the USA, these are places, which also can be interpreted as entities, giving a reason why both prepositions can be used.

However, I think that if you use of in the first sentence, it will give you the impression that Messi is one of the all-time greats of the Argentina football team, if not the greatest; however, in will imply that he is the best in the current Argentina football team.

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