Wednesday, 7 April 2010

A League of His Own

I have delayed commenting on it but it now seems that I can no longer avoid writing about Lionel Messi's ridiculous form of late. The 22-year-old Argentine hit in his fourth hat-trick of 2010 as his four goal haul sank Arsenal's Champions Leagues dreams. The performance left football fans salivating at his display which leaves no doubt that he is the greatest football player in the world right now. In my previous post I stated that football had adopted the role of a modern day religion. If so, Lionel Messi would be the latest prophet to be given a divine footballing gift.

It seems an almost futile task to attempt to put into words Messi's quality. Over the last two seasons Messi has played 79 games in La Liga and the Champions League, scoring a staggering 66 times. The truth is, however, that goals will never come close to showing just how good the 5ft 7” forward is.

It cannot be debated that he is the best player on the planet. Rooney or Ronaldo may score goals but neither does it with the ease and grace of the Barcelona striker. Nor do they look as menacing with the ball at their feet. Arsene Wenger commented after last night's game that Lionel Messi was the best player in the world by some distance calling him “unstoppable”. Messi appears to be almost inhuman in his current form and if he can carry it to South Africa this June then the odds of 8/1 for Argentina to lift the trophy, and Messi to top-score in the tournament at 11/1, both look extremely tempting.

Messi must be considered more than just currently the best player in the world though. At the age of 22 he seems certain to go on and become one of, if not the, greatest players the world will ever have the joy of watching. His touch, ball control, dribbling, skill, agility, pace, technique, flair, finesse and finishing are unreal. Watching both of his performances against Arsenal have left spectators open mouthed at his ability to glide past players with apparent ease and continuously torment defenders and he recreates this week -in-week-out. Like past icons, such as Pele, Best, Maradona and Zidane, Messi has the ability to do the unthinkable on a regular basis.

Whenever he receives the ball there is an air of expectation, an expectation of brilliance, and he rarely disappoints. Like the past greats Messi has the ability to manipulate the ball in ways 99% of footballers could only dream of. Defenders lunge in desperation to get a piece of ball or man and yet he evades all challengers and then consistently executes the outrages and audacious final ball or shot. There is no footballer anywhere, nor has there been for some time, that strikes the level of fear into an opposition as Messi does.

As long as Messi remains healthy and motivated he can go on to acquire countless amounts of sliver-ware and receive endless plaudits. One would also assume that Barcelona is the place for him to do so. There would be no need for Messi to leave the Catalan club. He is playing alongside other world-class players and they play a style of football that suits him perfectly. Barcelona won all 5 trophies they competed in last season (League, Cup, Champions League, World Club Challenge and Super Cup) and it makes perfect sense for the best player in the world to play at the best club. As such Messi will be at the club, which he joined at the tender age of 11, for the foreseeable future.

Messi is undoubtedly the most devastating footballer of his generation, not only with his goal scoring record but with his ability to produce moments of inspiration, astonishment and pure magic whenever he touches the ball... and he is only 22. Superlatives cannot do the little Argentine justice, no matter how great your vocabulary. He is quite simply unstoppable, as close to a perfect player as it seems possible to conceive.

Thoughts, comments and opinions please...


  1. You are spot on Polly, and do a much better job of describing his talents than i could. I would just like to point out that he and Barcelona won SIX titles last year, you forgot the Spanish Super Cup as well as the European one! I'll forgive you though!

  2. Far far too early to put him in the same bracket as some of those guys. What have Pele, Maradona and Zidane got that Messi doesnt? World Cup Winner's medals. Not only that but these people carried their countries through world cups.

    Im not saying you HAVE to win the world cup to be one of the all-time greats but what I am saying is that is you are 22 and you play for Argentina (not a bad side) then you have to do something at the world cup at one point in your career to be called one of the best.

    Lest we forget, 4 years ago, people (mainly the brazilian press true) were saying that Ronaldinho was going to prove he was 'the greatest player ever' at the world cup. Watching that over-sized shadow trudge around the pitch now should be a warning against ridiculous talk like this. You have to do it across your whole career to earn those accolades.

    I believe Messi has the talent to be the greatest ever; watching him play is, to put it simply, beautiful. But lets see what happens when the eyes of the whole world are waiting for him to fail this summer and he alone has to bare the weight of a nation on his child-sized shoulders. When he looks around and sees Gutierrez and Veron instead of Xavi and Iniesta, then we will see what he is really made of.

    I cant be the only one thinking that he cant go on like this forever..

  3. Messi may not have a World Cup winners medal and he may only be 22 but I think that despite this he can still be considered in the same league as these great players. Maybe he has not enjoyed sustained success yet but he seems almost certain to do so. As I said, I don't think that Messi leading Argentina along way into this summers World Cup is a bad bet.

    As you say, and I commented, he does need to remain healthy, in body and mind. Some of the 'great' Brazilians i.e. Ronaldo, Robinho and Ronaldinho all stand as a warning, like you say. They are all players who peaked too early and since lost their way. The fact is that Messi is not like these players. He has been at Barcelona for over a decade and he lives at home with his parents. He is not gallivanting around like a playboy as these Brazilians did on their rise to fame. Messi lives to play football.

    He may not have a career of accolades as of yet but he has more ability than any of these players and perhaps more ability than any player ever even at his tender age. As they say, 'form is temporary, class is permanent'. Messi has class in abundance so it is not really a question of whether or not this run of form can continue. He will not, of course, continue to hit in hat-tricks every week but he will continue to dominate opponents and steal the headlines wherever and whenever he plays.


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