FC Barcelona: Is Lionel Messi Really the Greatest Player Ever?

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FC Barcelona: Is Lionel Messi Really the Greatest Player Ever?
David Ramos/Getty Images

Since the Argentine scored 5 goals against Bayer Leverkeusen in the Champions League, the Messi question has arisen in many newspapers.

The Argentine certainly makes a strong case for himself, with a pinpoint through pass, mesmeric dribbling skills, and robotic efficiency in his finishing. Best ever or not, there is absolutely no question as to his place as one of the greatest of all time.

 

Arguments For:


1) His Scoring Record

Messi has scored 234 goals for Barcelona in 8 seasons. By the tender age of 24, that is an astonishing record, which betters that of Bobby Charlton, George Best, and even Diego Maradona at the same ages.

The Young Argentine has certainly shown that he has the ability to score all kinds of goals, from putting a header past Edwin van der Sar against Manchester United in 2009, to scoring free-kicks against Getafe. He is also one of the best penalty-taker's in world football.

 

2) His Age

Messi is just 24, and has a long career ahead of him. He has already won several Spanish Leagues and three Champions Leagues, and looks to increase that trophy cabinet in future. He's on great form, and doesn't look like he will stop scoring anytime soon.

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3)His Sheer Ability

The Argentine is skill personified—he has great dribbling ability, vision and the ability to pick a through pass. He is fast, has great acceleration over short pockets of space, great positional ability, and a great finish from long and short distance. It would not be an exagerration to call him a Machine. 

 

Arguments Against:


1)He plays at Barcelona, in a system specially designed for him to excel

As a great manager once said: "Tactics cannot be separated out from the rest of football. For any player, tactics are part of what makes him a good player. A player can be individually hugely talented, but can need a specific type of structure to express that talent."

That is certainly true in Messi's case. He is deployed in a revolutionary false-nine role at Barcelona, starting as the main striker and dropping deep into the attacking midfield positions to flummox center-backs.

The system assumes two things: a) That Messi will be able to both go for goal himself and make through passes for players running on. And b) that he will recieve quality service from the likes of Xavi and Iniesta.

David Ramos/Getty Images

When both a) and b) are ticked, as is often the case (to Messi's credit), he is able to function at full capacity. But, take him away from that comfortable structure, and that great service, and he might struggle.

Messi has not passed that test yet, and that remains a question mark over his claims to greatness.

He still has to go some way to replicate Maradona's achievements of winning the Serie A twice with a poor, almost relegation-bound Napoli, and the World Cup with an Argentine side that was severely lacking in quality.

 

2) The World Cup

This is often one of the biggest criticisms of Lionel Messi—he has never been able to produce for his country. This may be slightly unfair, given the underwhelming amount of quality that surrounds him on the international stage.

However, the point stands that he still does not have arguably the most prestigious trophy in world football in his trophy cabinet. His performances for Argentina have been sub-par for his insanely high-standards, as he has "only" scored 22 in 63 for them.

 

Conclusion:
It is beyond argument that Messi is the best player in the world right now, but he has the advantage of being a star in the modern era, where we are able to use statistical tools and tactical analysis to see his worth from game to game exactly.

This was perhaps not the case for the likes of Pele, Zico, Maradona, Platini and so on and so forth.

I don't believe that Messi is the best player ever, but he is pretty close. And if he isn't now, he most probably will be in the next 4 years.

Come read this article and more at my blog:http://90minutesup.blogspot.com/

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