Lionel Messi just won the FIFA Ballon D'Or for the fourth year in consecutive time—making a huge case for him to be considered the greatest player of all time.
Aged just 25, what the Barcelona and Argentina striker has achieved in his career already is mind-boggling, and to consider that that he could very well achieve all that and more in the remainder of his career is simply unfathomable.
Truth be told, there was never going to be another winner at the Ballon D'Or presentation ceremony, with no disrespect intended for Cristiano Ronaldo or Andres Iniesta.
Both are quality players who are invaluable to their respective teams, but even they are not on the same level as the Argentinian international.
His level is simply greater than any other player in the game today.
He should be considered in the same discussion as Pele and Diego Maradona as to being the greatest footballer ever to grace the earth with his presence.
Consider that this is a man who just netted 91 goals in all competitions—a world record in the eyes of the vast majority and an incredible achievement in the eyes of the others.
91 goals, a Copa Del Rey title and a huge head in the 2012/13 La Liga title race that has caused many to already crown Barcelona as the champions. Those achievements would be a lifetime's work for many and would be considered great achievements at that.
Messi achieved it all in just one calendar year.
For a man who is just 25 years old, his record is one of the most glittering records available in world football today, and one that clearly rivals the likes of Maradona and Pele. Some will say that without a World Cup victory he will never be as good, but with the accolades and trophies that he has already won, you'd have to say he comes close to beating those mentioned above.
Five-time La Liga winner; two-time Copa del Rey champion.
Five Super Cups, two UEFA Super Cups and two FIFA Club World Cups.
Oh and three UEFA Champions League titles.
Plus an Olympic gold medal.
According to Soccerway, Messi has scored 321 goals in all competitions since his debut for Barcelona back in 2004/05. By comparison, Maradona scored 292 throughout his 16-year career with Pele the clear winner on 697 goals in his 18-year career.
Yet achievement-wise, there can be no greater claim to fame than that of Messi, who has topped off all his domestic and international achievements with a fourth consecutive recognition that he is the greatest player currently in world football.
Neither Maradona or Pele had the chance to win the Ballon d'Or, but even if they did, you wonder whether even they would have won the title four years in a row.
Four years without a slip-up, without a poor season, without any indication of slowing down or relenting—it's truly a remarkable achievement from Messi.
"To tell you the truth, it is really unbelievable to win this award for the fourth consecutive time." Lionel Messi on winning the #Ballondor— FIFA.com (@FIFAcom) January 7, 2013
The world will never truly be able to compare him with the footballing greats that we consider to be the greatest of all time, for they are different players of different styles and generations.
But make no mistake, Messi's name is in the discussion.
His name should no longer be touted alongside the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo for being the greatest player on each; his name should be talked about as one of the greatest ever.
No lack of a World Cup trophy is going to change that, especially when he's only 25.
We could very well be witnessing history made in right in front of us.
And after four straight years, we simply cannot wait for more.
Does Messi deserve to be considered one of the greatest ever?
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