Comparing Lionel Messi's Role for Argentina vs. Role for Barcelona

Jason PettigroveContributor IMarch 29, 2016

Lionel Messi's club and international roles are vastly different.
Lionel Messi's club and international roles are vastly different.MARTIN BERNETTI/Getty Images

Lionel Messi is as important for the Argentina national side as he is for Barcelona, that much is obvious.

That he plays the two differing roles as well as each other, maps out his versatility and genius on the pitch.

Indeed, there can't be too many cases of a footballer being called up by his country but asked to play in a role that isn't the one undertaken on a weekly basis.

Given that not-insignificant piece of information, it still seems a little disrespectful that some Albiceleste fans are yet to truly take him to their hearts, suggesting he plays better for Barca than Argentina.

Pele has weighed in on the argument as to the way in which Messi plays for club v country.
Pele has weighed in on the argument as to the way in which Messi plays for club v country.FRANCK FIFE/Getty Images

Even Pele weighed in on that particular argument last April, telling FIFA.com (h/t Goal):

When he's in Spain, with Barcelona, with a team he already knows and knows well, he's a player. 

But Messi when he's with the Argentinian team is not the same thing. It's a different way of playingthe Argentinian team is not organised the same way.

The same thing happens with Neymar and Brazil.

It's an interesting point because how many times have the Albiceleste coasted along on the coat tails of their best player and been inspired by the deeds of their captain?

At club level, Messi arguably has a better and more cohesive unit around him, which allows his wanderlust to flourish.

Ostensibly now an attacker who dominates the right-hand channel for Barca, it's no surprise when we see him popping up on the opposite flank or centrally.

Luis Enrique is getting the best out of his No. 10 precisely because he is giving him licence to roam within the framework of the team unit.

Having Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets behind him at club level allows Messi to operate much further forward than he does for Argentina.
Having Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets behind him at club level allows Messi to operate much further forward than he does for Argentina.Vladimir Rys Photography/Getty Images

Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, Neymar, Luis Suarez and Co. are completely in tune with the same, and as such, they have made themselves into a more complementary support act for their main man.

In Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria et al, Messi isn't let down in the quality department but arguably has to take on more responsibility in an attacking sense.

At Barca, as soon as Messi has possession he's on his bike without a second thought, knowing that if he doesn't have the beating of his marker from the off, that the trade-off is that wonderfully penetrative short, sharp passing game in and around the penalty area that he and Barca excel at.

Sergio Aguero is a fine striker for Messi to play off of.
Sergio Aguero is a fine striker for Messi to play off of.EITAN ABRAMOVICH/Getty Images

For Argentina, Messi is often as far back as the halfway line as a move begins to develop and will tend to be more direct in possession.

With Di Maria and Aguero's excellent movement a nightmare for defences, fanning out in front of Messi gives him the space and time required to be at his devastating bestsomething that's not always available to him at club level.

What's also worth pointing out is Messi's intelligence as a footballer; his ability to adapt to those around him and tailor his own role accordingly is peerless.  

In so doing, his influence can be seen in both teams to varying degrees, and his vision and pinpoint delivery have taken over from his goalscoring feats on occasion.

He's still able to be a lethal hitman when required at club level and a creative genius internationally, even if we are beginning to see the green shoots of the latter for the Blaugrana.

It's hard to argue which is the better version of the player, but what's not difficult to accept is that both deserve the continued plaudits and adulation.

With at least another World Cup in him, it would be a just reward for Messi to lift the greatest prize that football has to offer.

Perhaps then he will be as revered by his own people as he is by the Catalans who chant his name with vigour at each home game.