Lionel Messi is a great player. That cannot be argued. If I were to say he was the greatest player in the world today, I would probably receive little argument on that either. But despite the statement by Barcelona President Joan Laporta that "Messi is the best ever," he is not there yet.
I believe he would be the first to back me up on this. Messi has recently stated that to become a true footballing legend, you must win a World Cup. This Summer he will have his chance.
Despite the fact that Messi's numbers in La Liga this season are nothing short of spectacular, netting 25 goals in 24 games, and 34 in total for his club, Messi has yet to be able to duplicate this play on the international stage.
Messi started in 18 of Argentina's 20 World Cup qualifying games, and could only find the back of the net 4 times. In his short career for Argentina, Messi has scored 13 goals in 43 games for his country. Those are hardly the numbers you would expect from the greatest player of all time.
To put things in perspective, In the 2009/2010 season, Messi has played a total of 49 games for club and country, scoring 36 times. This is a spectacular goal record. But compare it to Wayne Rooney, who is up to this point the most likely player to dethrone Messi as FIFA's World Player of the Year.
Rooney has suited up 47 times for club and country, and found the back of the net 39 times. Here is something else to consider. Messi would have to win the Ballon D'or, awarded to Europe's top player, this year and next just to equal Michel Platini's feat of 3 in a row from 1982 to 1984.
The fact that Messi has achieved so much by the age of 22 is astounding, but it does not warrant the accolade of being the greatest player ever. His teammate Pedro Rodriguez, has just stated that Messi is "better than Maradona".
I cannot agree. It is too soon to start making these claims. This doesn't mean that he won't be, but in order to be regarded as a true all time great, Messi must continue what he is doing at Barca, and transfer this form onto the international stage.
Then, and only then, will his name be relevant in a conversation about the all time greats.